Server Theft - Protect your business!
We hear from many operators looking for ways to find fraud in their restaurant or bar. There can be huge benefits to regularly reviewing your servers' sales and putting up precautions to prevent staff from padding their pockets with potential store profits. Not only can you prevent theft through proper management, but also improve guest experiences. Here are some common schemes we see in the industry and how to prevent them:
Same Ticket Scam
Item combinations that are regularly sold can be a useful tool in server theft. Simple, repeat tickets such as a drink and the lunch soup/salad special can be reused from table to table until a credit card is used while the tables paying in cash go right to the server's pocket.
- Peer Comparison Your staff is not all likely to be committing the same scams. Utilizing your Server team reports or Check Search, you can track scams by watching key metrics such as table turn times, cover counts, payment % of sales, and items sold (server controlled items such as your NA beverages). For example, if a server sees a significantly smaller amount of cash transactions than their peers, it is likely some is being pocketed. Audit the additional red flag metrics such as less covers, long turn times, or lower server managed items sold.
Cash sales are an easy and enticing theft item for even the most honest person. When a guest requests a draft beer from your bartender and hands them a $20 bill, there is not much to prevent them from putting that money into their tip jar instead of ringing it in and adding it to the register.
- Peer Comparison It is typically safe to assume that your entire staff is not stealing. This allows you to track and compare individuals against the rest of your team. This is also another way to track against the Same Ticket Scam. The Service Payments Report will provide you with a Cash % of Sales amount that will enable you to track and compare servers Cash sales to their peers.
- Example: If the average server or bartender is seeing 20% cash sales over a period of time, and there is an individual with 8%, this should be a red flag and management should begin an investigation and monitor their behavior.
Server Made Items
Items that do not require a kitchen ticket (NA beverages, chips and salsa, salads, and soups) are often an easy way to make extra cash. Items can be moved to other tickets once presented to the table to be paid for and then transferred to the next table to be paid for again, providing some extra cash directly to the server. Items can also be easily given away to friends or regulars for a second opportunity at theft. Others simply are lazy and/or not concerned with store profit and don't bother ringing them in.
- Peer Comparison When items are made by the FOH staff member instead of the kitchen, track them by comparing staff item sales. The Service Category Report allows you to compare specific categories against a peer set to check for low sales by employee. If you have access to the Custom Category function, you can create a single category of all your server-controlled items for ease of tracking. If a server has half the NA Beverage or Coffee sales as their team, it is worth a conversation and/or observation. it is important to highlight check sales average and tip percent when having these discussions with your team to prevent direct accusations of theft early on.
- Example: If servers are responsible for pouring coffee and making cappuccinos/lattes, they may not be ringing in every coffee they make, because a ticket is not required for it to be created; the server makes the item themselves (or verbally requests a team member assist). They may miss ringing these in because they are busy, or they forget, or they may give these items away to pocket cash or for a larger gratuity. No matter the reason, the business is losing out on the revenue for what is usually a high-margin item. Identify the servers with the lowest per-cover coffee sales then approach them for extra training (making sure to ring things in, are they comfortable using the espresso machine, etc) - this way whatever the cause they know you are paying attention to these items and have a benchmark they need to meet. Often these item sales will increase following such an action
Learn more about managing your Promotions and Voids, here are our walkthroughs of the recommended reports:
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