Owning and managing a bar is a labor of love. You have to work late nights and holidays, deal with disgruntled customers and try to keep track of an inventory and make sure that the books always balance out. With so many challenges, it is important to surround yourself with a stellar team. Bartenders handle more cash and are responsible for more sales than anyone else in your establishment. They are charged with a lot of trust and responsibility, which can make it all the more disheartening when you start to suspect that an employee is stealing.
If you are starting to notice discrepancies and have the sneaking feeling that a bartender is stealing from your business, here are some things to consider:
Is Your Shrinkage Under Control?
When the numbers just aren't adding up, don't jump to conclusions too quickly and start hurling accusations at valued employees. Before you assume that someone is stealing, make sure that your shrinkage is under control and that you are doing everything possible to run a well managed bar. Inventory can be thrown off by waste and spillage. In fact, on average, bars lose 20-25% of their bottom line to waste. That is enough to determine whether your bar is a success or ends up closing the doors.
Accidents are bound to happen, but you can reduce shrinkage by making some simple changes. For instance, make sure that the bar area is utilizing space as well as possible and allowing bartenders to easily reach for their tools. The more they have to run around, the more likely they are to spill and waste a drink.
Take Accurate Inventory
The more relaxed you are about you are about policies and taking inventory, the more likely employees are to take advantage of the situation. Even the most honest person can't help but be tempted and the easier it is for theft to go unnoticed, the more often it will occur. Be diligent about taking inventory on a regular basis. This will send a message to employees and help you enact better purchasing practices.
Taking inventory can be tedious, which is the main reason why it tends to get pushed to the bottom of the "to-do" list, but with inventory technology and apps, there is no excuse for not being on top of exactly what you have in the storeroom and behind the bar. All you have to do is scan bottles and reports are automatically generated. Inventory takes a fraction of the time and you can actively deter theft. Or if time is not on your side, you can outsource help in this area from inventory experts.
If you are able to uncover employee theft and determine, without a doubt, that an employee has been stealing inventory or taking cash, you have to take action. It can be difficult to terminate employees who you feel a personal connection with, but if you don't take clear and decisive action and pursue legal recourse, you leave yourself open to more theft in the future. It is important to send a clear message that conveys a zero-tolerance policy. As much as you should reward hard work and performance, you also need to communicate clear penalties for bad behavior.
Finding out that your employees have been stealing from you can feel like a personal violation. It is a breach of trust committed by people who you probably feel a close connection with. It is important that you do your part to discourage theft by putting clear policies in pace, taking advantage of the latest inventory technology and terminating employees who violate your business operation standards. A proactive approach can help you enjoy better success.