Promotion & Void Abuse - Protect your business!
We hear a lot about operators looking for ways to find fraud in their restaurant or bar. There are huge benefits to regularly reviewing your promotion and void usage and putting up precautions to prevent staff from padding their pockets with potential store profits. Not only can you prevent theft through proper management, you can also improve guest experiences. Here are some common schemes we see in the industry and how to prevent them:
Coupons are great tools for attracting new customers to your restaurant and hopefully turning them into longtime regulars. Unfortunately, some restaurant employees use coupons to take advantage of their employers and increase their take-home pay. Coupon abuse is actually one of the easiest and most overlooked restaurant theft scams.
- Collect Those Coupons: If you don’t already do this, it’s a good idea to collect coupons with their corresponding guest checks so that servers cannot reuse them. Servers often purchase coupons themselves and use them toward guest checks paid with cash, then bring the same coupon to their manager multiple times and pocket the discounted amount. If you’re a restaurant manager, have your servers physically staple the coupons to their corresponding checks, even if they have to reprint the check from the point of sale system.
- Make It Personal: A very high percentage of coupon-baring guests are first-time diners – discounted restaurant gift certificates allow guests to try new hot spots they may not normally go to. When a server presents a coupon used by a first-time diner to an authorizing manager, it’s best practice for that manager to personally drop off the check and mention that you took the discount off. This way, if the guests did not give the server the coupon they will be surprised; if they did give the server the coupon they will be pleased with the manager’s attentiveness. Plus, servers are less likely to try reusing coupons if they know their managers are doing table checks.
- Track, Track, Track: Logging coupon purchases is a great way to keep a close eye on discounted checks while keeping your staff honest. To do this, you should create unique promotion types within your restaurant's point of sale system for each coupon you accept. This allows you to determine whether the promotion is successful and lets you compare sales with past promotions.
Red flag and red flag!
The End of Night Promo/Void Ticket
We have all seen this trick to save time, creating 1 single ticket in the system that is a mass item dump throughout the night for items that need to be voided for various reasons in order to prevent managers from spending too much time at the computer voiding or comping items.
- Don't Do It: How much time are you really saving? Enough time that it's worth giving your team an open invitation for theft? Ending this practice allows for more checks and balances on void abuse but also allows new insight into training opportunities and improved shift management. For example, is a common void type 86'd item? Can we improve the communication between our BOH and FOH teams to prevent serving staff from selling items we are short on and ultimately disappointing the customer? Also, are you even clearly tracking the void or promotion types when it's 1 list at the end of the night?
- Break It Down: In the case, you feel this is a necessary practice, there are some important metrics to track to catch abuse offenders. As a first step, instead of a single ticket, create a ticket for each void type. This way you can begin by managing the voids by type. This will give you some level of visibility into common issues and management opportunities as we previously discussed.
- Track, Track, Track: On average you should see the same amount of voids/sales amount in a shift. Running a trend report for like days such as the last several Fridays you can highlight any large tickets. Keep an eye on who is working on these higher comp nights. Is it the same manager and/or servers working when these spikes occur.
Employees know the value of building a growing group of regular guests who request their service. The honest way of building a reputation with guests is through exceptional service, however, some staff use other motivators such as providing free food or beverages. In addition to adding extra covers to your shifts, these types of regulars tend to leave larger tips, often times in cash. This customer/server scam is a win-win collaboration as the customer pays less and the server takes home more money.
- Tighten the Reigns It feels like less of a time burden to share the power of the comp with multiple staffers such as long-time servers but this feeds the temptation and often entitled feeling to abuse the practice. Not only should the comp ability be limited to the management team for theft purposes, but it should also be limited for superior service. If there is an issue with a guest complaint due to service whether it is from the bar, the kitchen, or the server themselves; it should be addressed with a table visit from the manager on duty to ensure the guest feels adequately heard.
- Track, Track, Track: Compare the peer group by running a promotion detail report to check for serving staff with higher than average comps. If a specific individual is regularly at the top of the report could indicate to a scam or a training opportunity. Having one-on-ones with these individuals to dig into their high comped nights will allow you to seek out fraud, intimidate the server from abusing comps for personal gain, and/or allow for insight into better staff management. See the links below to our walkthrough of this report!
Learn more about managing your Promotions and Voids, here are our walkthroughs of the recommended reports:
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