POS Best Practices: How to Reduce Theft at the POS

3rd November 2014
Should employees use shared tills?

Employee theft is a big problem in the restaurant industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, it is estimated to consume about 4% of a restaurant’s bottom line, in QSRs’ 7% – a pretty large amount in a very thin margin industry. The fact of the matter is that while you might know your Point of Sale (POS) intimately, your staff use it 8 hours a day and if they are motivated to do so, they have far more time than you to think up ways to beat the system.

Abusing the “No Sale” key (if you allow one), running early Z-tapes while continuing to ring items in, short-ringing and other practices are easier to catch when your organization is following a good set of protocols for cash management.  While employees should and do need to be trusted, good cash management practices help remove temptation. Here are some tips on how to do this at the Point of Sale (POS).

Tips for Better Cash Management at the Point of Sale

  1. Create accountability: Employees should understand that they, and only they, are accountable for what happens with the cash in their till. At the beginning of the shift, a new till should be provided to them, they should count it and then initial a piece of paper with the agreed upon amount on it.
  2. Avoid having employees share tills: When you allow (or force) employees to use shared tills, you make it easier for a thief to hide their activities in with those of honest staff. Even busy, traditionally single POS terminal concepts like Subway can implement a “one till per employee” system. But this does require extra work.
  3. Skim or swap tills frequently: Swapping or skimming tills frequently and configuring the POS to warn employees and managers when too much cash is on hand is one of the most straight-forward methods of reducing theft. Skims should always be done when the employee is present, with the appropriate amount being removed from the till and sealed in a safe drop bag, along with a signed register reading slip.
  4. Track both under and over till counts: Frequent till swaps and skims make it harder for dishonest employees to track of how much in stolen money they’ve accumulated in a till (if that is their method of choice). Managers might think to look for tills that are “under” as indications of theft, but tills that are “over” can be as well. They are sometimes the sign of an employee who loses count of how much cash they have taken for items that were not rung in.
  5. Contain risk: It is not only counter employees that need to be made accountable. Temptation to steal can also exist at the shift manager level. Shift manager’s should not be allowed to handle tills in a vacuum. Procedures need to be in place to ensure they cannot (or are not be perceived to be able to) take money out of an employee’s till after it has been pulled from the register.
  6. Do frequent x-readings: If you must use a shared till, reduce risk by always taking an “x-reading” and having both employees count the till before cutting over. While you aren’t inserting a new till,  this still makes both parties using the register accountable for the cash in it.
  7. Keep till counts fast: Don’t open rolls of change until they are needed (fewer coins to count) and be aggressive on how often cash drops happen (keeping the amount that needs to be counted in the till lower).

How are you implementing cash management best practices at your restaurant? Get in touch with us at support@livelenz.com and let us know. Or learn more about how Livelenz helps make restaurant cash management easier here.

Chief Operating Officer at LIVELENZ. Greg began working part-time in restaurants when he was 15 and continued in the industry for a decade. He then began working for technology companies developing a passion for improving operational efficiencies at fast-growing organizations.

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