As hospitality suppliers we are positive that every category within our sector needs a specialist approach when it comes to securing finances and operations. The night-time industry is no exception to this. In fact, when it comes to bars and nightclubs we might even go as far as to say that it is one of the hardest to regulate in the industry. That’s why we have been thinking of key steps night-time operators can take to help them tighten controls in their business.
Listening to the needs of the industry is the only real way of finding solutions that work. So that’s what we’ve been doing. One of the first lessons we learnt was that financial and operational compliance for bars and nightclubs is best analysed within the natural environment of your operation. In other words, it should be done live during a busy night-time shift. Not only that, beginning the audit ‘unannounced’ is by far the most reliable way to analyse the success of your F&B operation.
Yes it’s a little unconventional. Won’t the auditors be in the way of your staff? Will staff think you don’t trust them? Well, a good auditor should not hamper with your operation too much; and ultimately trust is a two way thing. The amount of times we have to tell operators that their trusty staff who have served for many years have been pocketing money left right and centre. Live night-time audits really are a necessity when it comes to pointing out the real truths in your operation.
But enough about audits, as they are only a means to an end. The real ways to secure finances and operations in the night-time industry are actually quite straightforward and cover particular areas of vulnerability in your operation.
1. Door Revenue Checks
One of the most common and simple reasons for financial losses and reputational concerns in your nightclub or bar is related to the way money is handled at the first point of entry.
If you take money on the door it can be difficult to tell whether every ticket sold is actually being recorded as it should. There is also a widespread worry in the sector that if you were to actually analyse the variance in the number of punters and the real ticket revenue, that you’d likely be disappointed.
Beside these clear financial vulnerabilities, bribes too can cause serious reputational problems when the average Joe manages to gain access to your exclusive VIP/celebrity lounge.
Validating true door revenues through live night-time auditing can help you understand the scale of any losses and identify any rogue members of staff who don’t take your policies seriously. A simple door revenue check can ascertain if all door staff are licensed, that till floats match ticket sales and that bribery is or is not a problem amongst your door staff.
2. Staff Responsibility checks
Ensuring company policies are being adhered to throughout a busy shift is key to running a safe and compliant nightclub or bar business. Through surprise inspections you can get real insight into what’s happening in your venues at a given moment.
On-site managers and door staff, for example, carry huge responsibilities. However, if they approach their work with a lacklustre attitude, there is risk of it having a devastating effect on your business in terms of your financial and operational success. Ensuring that your manager’s performance remains in alignment with the expected standards of operation is a vital way to keep your business running profitably.
3. Bar usage Procedure checks
If your bars are struggling with profitability, even though business is good and your sites are busy, it’s important to check your retail transactions as this is a key sign that your bar staff aren’t behaving themselves.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of ways to steal money in a wet retail environment.
Observing your bars covertly across a number of sessions and recording every transaction that takes place and then reconciling that data with your till rolls and any cctv can highlight where the issues lie. It’s what we call covert bar surveillance and it aims to provide you with evidence of poor service, theft, fraud, lack of training and much more.
4. Crashing of tills
Crashing tills is an excellent way to control retail transactions and bar revenues. Having an independent 3rd party crash your tills makes the process of till crashing far more powerful than carrying it out internally. In particular, it is a much more reliable deterrent against pilferage and embezzlement and ensures that you don’t get too closely involved in what is already a sensitive process. It ensures that that floats are correct and points out in real-time if bar staff have been fiddling transactions.
5. Fire Exit Checks
Nightclubs and bars are large spaces, often with quirky layouts, tight passages and staircases. Your fire exit routes are carefully planned but it’s vital to ensure that your fire exits are clear and in good working order. As an operator this isn’t just your legal and moral obligation, it is a way to secure your operations and safeguard your reputation.
The Fire Service says that “planning ahead and reducing risks makes good business sense.” Having an external auditor check all exit routes in a live, night-time environment gives you peace of mind in the knowledge that your customers, staff and potentially neighbours can escape in the event of a fire. In particular checking that all fire exits are safe, unlocked and crucially not blocked, so that your staff and customers can exit safely, can help you prove that you have done everything in your power to put the necessary controls in place to avoid injuries and casualties in a tragic event.
6. Stock Control
Our golden rule – treat your stock as you would your cash is one to never forget. Checking the security of stock storage areas, as well as tracking stock movement through proper record keeping is vital to securing your finances and operations.
Cashing up and stocktakes too can help provide accurate information on event profitability, product performance, stockholding and shrinkage and identify key opportunities for loss reduction.
All six of these ways to secure your bar or nightclub’s finances and operations can combine into considerably improving your establishment’s profits. The reality is, however, that operators often find it difficult to implement them in their already demanding work schedules. At Venners we’ve worked hard to ensure that outsourcing external controls to a third party can actually pay for itself. So if you’re struggling to keep control of any or each of these previously mentioned areas why not get in touch and discuss your needs with us. Our bespoke solutions will no doubt prove themselves extremely useful to your operation.