Whether you run pubs, bars, restaurants or hotels, theft, wastage and spillage will reduce the profitability of your business. Improving your handling of each can have a significant impact on gross profit. Here are eight useful tips to help minimise the loss of stock through insider theft, wastage and spillage.


1. Warn your staff about the consequences of stealing


It is a good idea to tell your staff what your own true definition of stealing is. Setting boundaries from the off will help them to understand what is and isn’t appropriate. Staff might think that an infrequent free drink poured for a friend is appropriate. Help them to understand that any kind of giveaway outside of promotions is not acceptable.


It’s important for them to know and understand the consequences too. Tell them about the process if they are caught and what will happen to them. The decision to prosecute is yours, but you might put an end to theft early on if staff are scared of the legal repercussions.


2. Install CCTV above your bars


CCTV is an important deterrent as well as an effective evidence gathering tool that can help you prove misdemeanours and take positive action. Footage captured on your CCTV system can be reconciled with your till rolls or EPoS transaction logs, creating strong evidence of wrongdoing. Venners can help you with this as part of their Cover Bar Audit service, a phantom customer who sits at your bars, recording all the transactions, voids and no-sales that they witness. CCTV can also protect your customers against fraud relating to cash-back transactions.


3. Pay Attention for signs of foul play


Pay attention to cashing up patterns. If one of your bar staff declares a positive cash balance at the end of their shift, called ‘over ringing’, this could be a sign of foul play gone wrong. An over rung balance could indicate that your bar staff are using phantom transactions to cover for money they would have stolen from the till given the chance. This won’t be the only reason for tills with positive balances, but knowing the signs will help you to understand where risks might exist, giving you the chance to implement stronger controls, like Covert Bar Audits.


4. Pay attention to wastage logs

Sometimes your wastage log will appear to have a large amount of write-offs and this is another tell-tale sign that your staff are stealing from your bar or giving away too many free drinks. We always advise our customers to record the ‘Time of wastage’ in your wastage logs. This allows you to check CCTV cameras to ascertain the fidelity of the written wastage logs, providing hard evidence of misdemeanours.


Also, when you track wastage, make sure you reconcile that wastage against employee and shift. Doing so allows you to build a relationship between excessive wastage and a particular member of staff.


5. Free drinks for family and friends


The chances of theft occurring sky-rocket when bar staff are left to serve their family and friends. Whether it’s done to show off, to abuse their position or just because your staff think that it’s a nice little perk – it’s important to educate your staff on what is and is not acceptable. It is advisable to offer a staff discount. However discounts are open to abuse, so monitor its usage carefully, noting down who is using it most often. Again, CCTV can help you ascertain whether it is being abused and to what extent.


6. Milk tills, regularly


Regularly milk your cash boxes before the stack of notes gets too big and put them in a secure deposit box. Doing so can reduce your staff’s temptation to steal. It is also a good idea to have your safe deposit box covered by your CCTV, as many of the major embezzlements that we have uncovered have been an assistant manager fiddling with banking paperwork, allowing them to take thousands from the on-site safe.


7. Take stock, regularly


It’s no surprise that the UK’s oldest stocktaking company advises you to conduct regular stocktakes, right? Right. But don’t just rely on your external stocktaker/stocktaking company. Rotate your bar or front of house staff on internal stock control duties and pay close attention to any variances that are uncovered! Involving staff in this way helps educate them about stock control as well as guarding against scams that happen when a sole employee is left in control of stock for too long.


8. Go covert!


If you have even the remotest suspicion that one of your bar staff is stealing from you in any way, get Venners covert bar surveillance team involved. They are experts at spotting and secretly recording your bar staff’s retail transactions. They’ll reconcile their findings with your over-the-bar CCTV and tills rolls and provide you with a report on how much you’ve lost during the shifts that they observed (make sure that you’re seated before you read it!). The report will extrapolate on what you might lose over the course of the year, which can make for some unpleasant reading. What’s great about the report is that the damning evidence is typically strong enough for you to claim gross misconduct, allowing you to remove the issue directly. A secondary benefit of the covert observations is that staff become aware that they could be being watched, and so it has a preventative effect too.


Those are our eight measures that you can use to reduce theft, wastage and spillage in your bars. We hope they prove to be useful. If you would like any further information or advice on any of the ideas or services mentioned above, please don’t hesitate to call on 01279 620 820 or fill in the form below: