How technology can keep your bar safe from staff fraud

by | Jun 9, 2022

Pubs and bars have always struggled with low-level fraud and petty theft. It’s inevitable, given the high turnover of staff and the opportunities some staff see.

Whether it’s putting through singles but charging for doubles (or vice versa), or sneaking stock from the cellar, there are plenty of ways for money to leak out your business. 

Fortunately, contactless payments, electronic point of sales (EPOS) and digital stock control is making fraud harder to commit. 

Contactless payments

Contactless payment technology is well embedded in most customer-facing commercial activity.

With the limit now raised from £45 to £100 and the introduction of smartphone payments too, the technology is becoming ever more widespread. 

By removing much of the hard cash from your takings, it reduces the risk of petty theft – there’s less visual temptation and it is more noticeable if money starts to go missing.

Is your EPOS system protecting you sufficiently?

Quality EPOS systems are a powerful defence against other forms of staff fraud. Just make sure you keep passwords secure, and if you can, impose different levels of access for different staff members.

An EPOS can combat specific types of fraud or theft. For instance, wagon-wheeling (where a server transfers a drink to another bill, only to then void the second bill and pocket the customer’s cash), can be reduced if transfers require a manager’s code to work.

As technology advances, there are interesting plug-in solutions that you can get for EPOS systems. One AI service called Glimpse syncs video movement across the bar counter with your EPOS data to produce an image trail for all transactions.

Research has shown that investing in technology can have a significant deterrent effect. One Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study looked at 392 restaurants over a two-year period. It found that transactional monitoring software reduced identifiable theft by 22%. 

While this only equated to $24 per week, the study also found that total revenue increased by $2,975 per week. This suggests that either the technology was boosting productivity, or preventing far larger but better concealed fraud.

What about digital stocktaking software?

If money is one side of the theft equation, your stock is the other. Giving away free drinks to friends, over-pouring to encourage big tips and outright stealing from the cellar are just some of the risks.

“Connected” scales linked to digital stocktaking software allow you to quickly and accurately keep on top of your inventory. 

It makes it far more difficult for blatant stock theft to occur. You can also use it to inventory more efficiently and reduce dead stock, track sales and analyse profits.

Staying one step ahead

Whether it is watering down drinks stock to dupe the scales, voiding or tampering with tip levels, you cannot eliminate risk completely. 

But using technology to create a culture in your business should sow more than a seed of doubt in any staff member who thinks they can swindle you. And it can also have a positive impact on your profitability.

If you would like to discuss your bar or restaurant’s profitability with our experts, please get in touch.

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