Restaurant theft is expensive. A study found that internal employee theft is responsible for 75% of stock-outs and about 4% of restaurant sales. This represents between 3 and 6 billion dollars per year. There are all kinds of types of restaurant thefts ranging from food and inventory theft, checkout and checkout theft, external fat theft, time theft, and employee product theft.
It’s also more widespread than some restaurant owners and managers might want to believe. The same study found that around 75% of employees steal from their workplace at least once, if not repeatedly. This means that, in a vacuum, three of your four employees could potentially engage in some form of theft in your business. This hurts your bottom line and is regressive for the rest of your restaurant operation. So how can you put protective measures in place to help deter restaurant and employee theft? Here are some options to consider.
1. Invest in security cameras
A simple and practical measure to prevent theft is to invest in restaurant monitoring. Having security cameras is a clear yet subtle way to let your staff and guests know that they are being watched. According to one study, observing the behavior of employees under electronic monitoring reduced thefts by 22%. Three months after the monitoring was installed, the flight was even lower. Sounds simple enough, right? Whether it’s one of your employees or a customer in your restaurant, they’re much less likely to try to steal something if they know they’re being caught on camera. Security cameras will also help you identify someone after a theft has taken place.
Where you place your security cameras is just as important as having them in the first place. What good is the surveillance if the important parts of the restaurant are not visible there? Make sure important areas of your kitchen are easily visible on the monitor such as the cooler and cabinets, the register and all entrances and exits. Before you begin the installation process, make sure your CCTV setup complies with the law and respects the privacy of employees and customers.
2. Set up a point of sale system
Simply put, a point of sale is where you call customers for the product they purchased. A point of sale system is the hardware and software that enables your business to make those sales. A POS system is much more than a cash register or checkout counter and its capabilities extend beyond that. This is what allows you to track the total sales your business makes each day.
In a restaurant, an order cannot be placed without a point of sale system. It passes the order to the kitchen for you and in most cases it is password protected and an order cannot be changed by anyone other than a manager or designated person supervising the system .
Why is it useful? Register theft is prevalent in restaurants and is one of the easiest ways to steal money undetected. A point of sale will prevent employees from modifying orders, canceling invoices, as well as undercharging and overcharging. Having something in place to track all orders will help keep your ledger balance straight and help you identify if something is wrong with your ledger or daily ledger.
3. Inventory management system
Back-of-the-house restaurant theft often happens when no one is looking, and while security cameras and point-of-sale systems can help, an inventory management system is a great way to add security. another layer of security. You should have an inventory management system in place, regardless of the presence of theft, as it helps you optimize your inventory ordering to improve your bottom line. But it also helps prevent back of house theft.
Theft of supplies, ingredients, and other inventory items is common and can be difficult to track. Having an inventory management system, running regular reports and checking physical inventory will help you track ordered inventory and help you notice quickly if anything is missing. Consider using a digital checklist management app to easily and efficiently perform reports and inventories.
Supplies and ingredients can be expensive. It’s hard enough to optimize your inventory to minimize what’s wasted, the last thing you need is a shortage due to theft. Having an inventory management system will not only lower your bottom line through better management, but it will also help deter back of house theft.
4. Secure the exterior of your building
While employee theft is certainly a big part of what includes restaurant theft, the threat extends beyond the confines of your kitchen and with your staff. Securing the exterior of your building, the parking lot, and the surrounding area is a proactive way to prevent thieves from breaking into your kitchen or stealing items that sit outside your building.
Your restaurant likely has multiple doors and a variety of ways to enter and exit your building. Not all of these should be accessible to everyone at all times. The back or side door of your kitchen that opens to the parking lot should always remain locked, except for an employee who must enter and exit for a task. Leaving a back door open or unlocked invites trouble. It allows burglars easy access to your building. It also creates an opportunity for employees to sneak out of the building with cash or a restaurant. Designate one entrance and exit for your employees to enter and exit work every day and restrict access to all other doors and exits unless specifically needed. This will keep your staff safe and deter theft.
Your used cooking oil storage bin is also a tempting proposition for thieves. The fat that fry your food has value, and because of that, it is the target of criminals. In fact, it’s an annual eight-figure black market. Grease thieves will break into your tank, damage your property and steal your oil while leaving a mess behind. It costs you time, money and compromises the safety of your personnel. Make sure you have up-to-date storage equipment, it’s safer and more efficient. If you need to dump your oil in an outdoor corral, make sure your staff knows not to leave the door open, inviting thieves inside.
5. Be transparent and educate your staff
Transparency with your restaurant staff can help deter theft. Develop a direct company policy on employee theft with clear and concrete consequences in the event of theft. Make sure your employees know what will happen if they are caught stealing. Educate them about the high cost of theft, how it harms everyone involved in the long run, and how it will potentially impact their job and salary. The more they learn about the costs and consequences, the less likely they are to commit theft.
Have an open door office policy. Encourage your staff to report any potential wrongdoing. This will make it easier for employees to report a theft. If you can create a positive and transparent culture that makes everyone believe that they are all rowing in the same direction and that preventing theft will benefit everyone in the long run, you can significantly reduce the prevalence of theft in your kitchen.
Theft is an endemic problem in restaurants, but implementing these security measures and practices will go a long way in ensuring that your business does not fall victim to restaurant theft.