Most self-respecting operators have, at some point, encountered issues around banking, cash handling and negative till balances within their business. But knowing the tell-tale signs and using preventative techniques can go a long way to ensuring those losses are kept to an absolute minimum.
Here’s the stuff you definitely need to know!
1. Are your servers & bar team processing sales correctly under their own server identity to maintain an auditable link & transaction chain?
This one is absolutely key and we break it down into two elements. Firstly, it’s a question of whether your staff are processing sales correctly. In some cases, we’ve seen far too many errors at service point. To illustrate what that could mean; it might be a server not adding a mixer to the bill, charging for a single but pouring a double, forgetting to charge for a drink or even just pouring the wrong one and sink-pouring it. Whether these things happen because of a shortfall in training, out of negligence or from the dreaded apathy, there are things you can do to eliminate most of them. One of the single best measures you can have in place is a series of covert observation tests undertaken at site, (or remotely if your EPoS will allow), as this will highlight customer service issues, epos abuse, areas of poor serve training and commonly, theft.
Secondly, it’s about accountability and making sure each one of your staff feels responsible for the part they play in reporting transactions. Having the ability to trace transactions and audit your staff’s handling of cash/POS provides a perfect deterrent to most EPoS transgressions and transaction / voucher exploits.
2. Do your team or POS till system generate receipts routinely upon payment?
This is another important element of control which, if overlooked, can leave you open to exploitation. It is closely related of course to our previous point in the sense that it’s impossible to maintain an auditable transaction chain without the physical evidence of every single transaction made. Proper record keeping is the key to maintaining a good overview of what goes on when you’re not looking. It’s the guarantee to your staff that every transaction they handle is on-record and that they can therefore be held accountable for their actions.
The truth is of course that there may be individuals in your business who want to stay off-the-record. If your EPoS system is showing lengthy periods of inactivity in terms of the number of receipts generated, or if you notice that there are large gaps between the physical receipts retained, you can be sure that something suspicious might be going on.
With the help of a covert audit you can be presented with the hard evidence you need to identify any suspicious behaviour. Our covert investigators observe and document every transaction made by each member of your bar staff and will later reconcile this against your EPoS records. Any attempts to conceal misdemeanours will be easily identifiable.
3. What is the % of Cash to Card & Contactless payments?
This might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but if one particular member of staff is showing a much higher ratio in taking cash payments over card payments than others, you might need to assume the worst. We all want to believe that our employees are trustworthy, but this particular tell-tale sign should not be taken lightly. Cash-in-hand is harder to track and therefore obviously much more open to abuse.
However, don’t be mistaken in thinking that employees with higher ratios of card payments are automatically blameless. Contactless payment transactions in particular are open to abuse too. Though fraudulent activity in this regard is more likely to directly affect your customers’ bank accounts rather than your own, it will inevitably directly affect your reputation as a venue. The inattention of a customer when paying for their drinks leaves a lot of space for your bar staff to add a few of pounds to their bill, to be redeemed of course from the cash register at a later stage.
4. What is the % of No Sales, Error Corrects & Voids against completed number of transactions?
Probably the most obvious sign of pilferage is your staff messing with the EPoS system. By abusing functionalities within the EPoS system, such as no sales, error corrects and voids, your staff could be handing themselves some substantial ‘tips’ if it goes unnoticed for long enough. In fact, we’ve witnessed examples of staff stealing up to £50K on a yearly basis through clever tricks of the system.
What can you do?
The worrying reality is that all four of the aforementioned questions can jointly form a myriad of scenarios of abuse which are sadly not always as simple to identify as we would like them to be. That being said, there are a few ways to tackle, reduce and prevent any problems with pilferage in your bar yourself. Here are a few things you could do:
1. Management should complete regular spot checks on staff to ensure that they are carrying and using their own server card/keys or codes.
It’s important to note too that these server card/keys or codes should be considered to be equivalent to a personal ATM bank card and PIN code and should never be shared amongst employees. Make it clear to your employees that there are consequences for not keeping their personal details secure at all times and that they will open themselves up for investigation if they don’t treat them with due care and attention.
2. Management should milk cash from the tills regularly during peak trading days and service periods.
This will ensure that pilferage is kept to a minimum not only because there is less to steal, it also allow you to double check cash income against recorded transactions during shifts, thus showing up any early signs of abuse. It’s of course also one of the best ways to deter employees from the temptation of exploiting the system as they’ll recognise the high level of control you have over your cash handling and banking situation.
3. Management should track ratios of cash and card sales on a daily basis.
This might determine any variations that could be related to concerns or sales reconciliation issues.
4. No Sales, Error Corrects or Voids should be investigated depending on the below qualifications.
Is the value or number of transactions percentage is in excess of:
* 1-5% is questionable and needs a review of till use and training
* 5-10% an income risk that needs to be investigated, internally first, before seeking our advice
* <10% a clear sign that your systems are being abused. Seeking our help immediately will ensure that you obtain the objective evidence you require to take appropriate next steps.
Frontline staff will often blame colleagues or the POS till system as a technique to divert attention away from themselves, trying to devolve any responsibility. Other times, there might be more than one person involved, making it all the harder to identify the source of your losses. Worst case scenario your management themselves might be in on the plot and could be covering up serious banking and cash misdemeanours. It’s important to know who you can trust, but it’s even more important to have the controls in place to minimise risks. Protecting your business against unnecessary losses is the best way to preserve your profit. If you are worried about pilferage in your business and need an independent investigator to identify or verify any concerns then speak to us today. Call 01279 620 866