By Jim Laube
Cashiers and bartenders using a house-provided cash drawer should never be allowed to take a register reading. When an employee can figure out what he or she “owes the house,” it’s just that much easier for them to skim off the excess cash (from unrecorded sales) and walk out with money you earned but will never know you had.
Unlike server bank systems in table-service restaurants, where servers must ring up food and beverage items before they can present the customer with a guest check for payment, cashiers and bartenders can verbally communicate the amount owed—completely bypassing the printing of a guest check. Bypassing the check-printing step provides the opportunity for dishonest cashiers and bartenders to under-ring orders for cash transactions and then pocket the difference.
It’s critically important that only managers have access to register readings, and that you have a checkout procedure that makes it more difficult (not less) for anyone to cheat.
At the end of a shift, each cashier and bartender should fill out a Checkout Sheet to record their settlement transactions. This would include cash, credit-card receipts, over-rings, voids, discounts, coupons, paid-outs, etc. After the beginning bank is subtracted from the “total receipts” a “deposit” amount should be shown.
Checkout Sheets should always be filled out in the manager’s office and as often as possible under the watchful eye of a manager or owner. Only after the Checkout Sheet is completed and the “deposit” amount written in, should the manager tell the employee how much cash is owed. That makes it easy for the manager to see an overage or shortage immediately, making it harder for an employee to cover it up or fabricate an adjustment on the spot.
While cash shortages are not great news, your worst nightmare is consistent cash overages. Too much cash indicates a strong likelihood of either unrecorded sales or customers being short-changed. In our experience, cashiers, servers and bartenders should consistently be within $1 over or short. Anything over $1 either way is a sign that an employee needs more training, can’t handle the job or is trying to steal.
Jim Laube is the founder (in 1998) and president of RestaurantOwner.com, an online resource for independent restaurant owners. Jim’s previous 30-year restaurant industry career included posts as a unit manager, controller, CPA and CFO for a regional chain. He works with restaurants primarily in the areas of financial management, internal controls, operating procedures and profitability. This is just one of the many financial management issues Jim Laube will discuss in his seminar at Pizza Expo 2014 entitled “How to Protect Your Restaurant From Theft and Fraud.”
This Pizza Expo Exclusive is part of a continuing series leading up to the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center on March 24-27, 2014. Seminar speakers and demonstrators will provide professional advice on their area of expertise.
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