Operating a business in the restaurant industry comes with its fair share of associated risks, not  least of which are theft and fraud. They cost the industry billions in annual revenue and 75% of employees surveyed by  Static Brain admitted that they had stolen from their employers at least once.

So what’s a restaurateur to do? Subject employees to weekly polygraph tests or place cameras in every corner of the restaurant? While these solutions seem like they can help to crack down on theft and fraud, they also communicate a lack of trust in your staff. This can affect how well your staff perform and might even cause some of them to resign. There’s an easier way to stay on the ball without looking like a tyrant. Here are five ways to combat these twin crimes in your restaurant:

Proactive monitoring

Employees might be dishonest from time to time but numbers never lie. This is why you must regularly monitor all your restaurant’s transaction data and scrutinise every figure from the PoS system to the back-of-house system and everything in between. It doesn’t matter if your bookkeeping is done the old-fashioned way or with the help of the latest technology, going through all your data thoroughly will highlight any inconsistencies. This is usually the best place to start when you suspect fraud or theft in your restaurant.

Automated alerts

If you don’t have the time to pore over reams of data, you can opt for a more automated approach. There are countless innovations available today that make tracking and monitoring restaurant activity a breeze. These tools are designed to recognise irregularities that indicate theft or scams such as tip-boosting or the wagon wheel scam. They also deliver automated alerts so you’ll always know when something is amiss.

Refined cash handling

Businesses have a tendency to play fast and loose with their cash-handling practices and this is dangerous because it creates the ideal circumstances for fraud and theft. Cash may not be the most sophisticated form of currency, but it can definitely be handled in a manner that is sophisticated and secure. For example, you could use cash-drop boxes, assign a supervisor to oversee and carry out cash deposits and establish a till accountability system to crack down on the mismanagement of cash.

Stay informed about scams

I briefly touched on some of the scams that occur in the restaurant industry, but there are many more that crop up every day. It’s vital for you to keep up with these scams to protect your establishment. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Auto gratuity scams – When servers automatically calculate the tip, but inflate the amount for their own benefit.
  • Void scams – Waiting staff ring up bills and then void them for cash refunds.
  • Wagon wheel scams – Also called the “revolving soda”. A waiter transfers a small item (like a soft drink) from one cash bill to the next before closing each bill, then pockets the cash.

Control access to your PoS system

Most, if not all, theft and fraud in restaurants happens at the till. Dishonest staff might manipulate holes in the PoS system’s security for their own gain. Of course, this can be avoided by investing in a PoS system with advanced security features – the simplest of which is access control. By ensuring that access is tracked and restricted using secure logins or access cards, you have full knowledge of which staff did what and when. What’s even better is the use of biometrics like fingerprint scanning to prevent the unauthorised use of logins and access cards.

The main thing to remember is to stay vigilant and use the tools at your disposal to manage fraud and theft for you.