6 Ways to Detect and Avoid 'Inside Job' Theft In Your Restaurant

Sometimes, theft in a restaurant happens. Some say it may be inevitable so it pays to be vigilant about it. Also, if left unchecked, it can run your restaurant dry and be the start of the sinking of your business.

Most employees are honest and will not take advantage of you, but a single fox in the coop is what it takes to turn honest employees into an internal mafia, working together and relieving you of quite a bit of money. Opportunities to steal will depend on your operations and how you setup your restaurant. If you want to avoid this, identify possible loopholes to keep your honest employees from turning to the dark side.

Here's your crash course in Restaurant Theft 101.

6. Voids after Closeout aka "BawasPaMore"

You trust your manager. You've trusted her with the keys to the building, your restaurant, and your life. With that great responsibility can also come with an opportunity for theft. Your restaurant manager after each shift can turn that trust to cold hard cash by voiding out transactions that occurred during the day. A little here and a little there and your manager just paid the downpayment to a brand new house.

How to prevent: Don't trust too much and keep a record of all voids. Look for patterns – time of the day, names of cashiers/managers. Is one person voiding transactions frequently? Are voids happening a lot at the end of each shift? Have your manager report each void to you as it happens.

5. Dine In to Take Out aka "Tumakeout"

A customer eats at your restaurant, pays the bill, and leaves. The cashier/manager changes the transaction type from "dine in" to "take out" and pockets the service charge.

How to prevent: Know your customers and your sales data. Check patterns from your take out sales and see which items are the usual suspects. Again, patterns are very critical. See if a cashier/manager has an incredible amount of take outs during her shift.

4. Reusable Receipts aka "Kambal order"

This technique takes a little patience. A customer comes in and orders one of your top sellers. The cashier prints out the receipt but leaves the transaction open. Then the waiting game begins. A couple of minutes later, another customer orders the same exact thing. Instead of entering it in the POS as a new transaction, the cashier reprints the receipt from the previous open transaction and gives it to the new customer. The new customer pays and the cashier closes out the transaction while pocketing the money from the first customer.

How to prevent: POS data and inventory data is critical to stop the "kambal order". Check which of your staff is constantly reprinting receipts and check if there are large amounts of discrepancy in your inventory numbers.

3. Phony Walk-Out aka "The Ghost Takas"

This takes collaboration from your servers, the manager, your cashier, (and the rest of the world going against all that is good). Customers leaving without paying the bill is a fact of restaurant life. Drunk teenagers leaving from a busy bar, a couple in a rush to get in the cinema, or some a**hole who just wants to take advantage. Intentional or not, people do leave without paying and your staff can take advantage of this fact. They can claim a "ghost takas" even if the customer actually paid.

How to prevent: Put a camera at every table (if you're pissed enough). A more realistic approach is to make sure that your server, manager, and cashier do not collude against you. If it happens, you probably need to start from scratch. You need at least one on your side. It's the manager's responsibility to make sure that "the ghost takas" or any "takas" for that matter does not happen. But then again, trusting your manager too much might lead to number 6.

2. Padding Checks aka "DagdagPaMore"

A group of 15 orders 8 burritos, 5 tacos, 2 quesadillas, and 40 beers. Happy and drunk, this a perfect scenario for the "DagdagPaMore". The cashier can add an extra burrito here and a couple of extra beers there and pads the total check amount and pockets the balance. If one person from that group of 15 realizes it and sees the "DagdagPaMore" in action, it's your restaurant's name that gets dragged through the mud.

How to prevent: Inventory data is always your best weapon against irregularities and evil schemes. Check your numbers. Do you suddenly have a surplus of inventory against your sales numbers? That’s not always a good thing. This could be a sign of your servers doing the "DagdagPaMore".

1. Sticky Fingers aka "Baon"

A carrot stick here, a bottle of Coke there, a sachet of 3-1 coffee here, and 50 grams of premium wagyu steak there. Everything adds up and if a "Baon" culture rears its ugly head in your restaurant operations, you'll find yourself fighting a losing battle.

How to prevent: Like number 2, keeping a clean inventory sheet that is well documented and frequently updated is the key to prevent the "Baon" technique. And of course, you can always do a random expectation of bags and locker and even trash being brought out.

This is not an exhaustive list of techniques and just identifies the most common ways your employees can hurt your bottom line. Some of it is more relevant to others depending on the type of your restaurant. Your first line of defense is knowledge and a tightly run operation. There are a lot of tools you can use and your POS is one of them. Though it is not fool-proof, the data that it tells you is not. Patterns in voids, cancellations, and inventory numbers will always tell you the real story.