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How to prevent QSR employee theft: 4 ways to discourage theft and retain employees


Oftentimes employee theft at quick service restaurants happens because there are irresistible opportunities to steal—Pair this with the low risk of getting caught, and you’ve got yourself a perfect storm.  

“Point of sale theft is one of the most common forms of employee fraud,” said Ed Heskett, veteran restaurant loss prevention specialist, who noted that by abusing cash-register capabilities like deletes, voids and refunds, restaurant employees can beat the system and take-home extra money. “It doesn’t matter how loyal or tenured the employee is,” he continued. “If there’s an opportunity to steal, many employees will take advantage of it.” 
The good news? You can prevent these “irresistible opportunities” at your QSR and sit-down restaurants if you have the right systems in place and if you know what to look for. Our team of restaurant experts put together 4 ways things to do to prevent employee theft in restaurants: 

#1: Follow brand cash register rules 

One of the easiest ways to steal is through the point of sale (POS) system. To protect your cash (and your cashiers), follow your brand’s cash handling policies exactly as they’re outlined. 

Typically, one cashier is allowed per drawer, and the cashier must count their drawer at the beginning and end of the shift. Schedule enough cashiers and include overlap to allow for the proper settling of cashier shifts. 

Ensure you have: 

  1. Enough cashiers on the schedule, around 6 to 8 in a QSR environment with extended hours. 
  2. 5 to 10 minutes of overlap for cashiers to allow for proper settlement. 
  3. A manager-in-charge is scheduled to run a register during peak times. It’s difficult to control the shift from a register, and it typically invites other employees to work the drawer. 


#2: Equip your managers-in-charge to succeed 

Every manager in charge must know in advance that their schedules are set up for success for the week. They need to be able to control the shift, monitor cashier performance, and enforce the brand cashier policies and procedures. They are the eyes and ears of the operation and ensure policies and best practices are being followed. 

It’s important that managers-in-charge: 

  1. Are deployed to control the shift and cash register positions 
  2. Ensure shift results are consistent with the plan for cashier assignments and accountability 
  3. Have sight into operational metrics – you can’t succeed at something immeasurable! 


#3: Give keyholders and leaders access to metrics and exception-based reporting 

The entire store leadership team must be aligned on your brand-specific metric thresholds for voids, deletes, refunds, and cash over/short. 

That way, you are all on the same page and can identify suspicious trends more easily. Additionally, cashier performance should be reviewed at the time of settlement and coaching, or immediate corrective action must be taken for variances exceeding the thresholds. 

Use your asset protection software and use it daily to monitor your cashier and manager’s performance. 

Best-in-class teams: 

  1. Know the important metrics and adhere to them; you can even post them 
  2. Have managers that take the time to review the POS register tapes 


#4: Trust but verify 

The entire management team should keep each other accountable. For example, conduct safe audits with every manager shift change, follow up on all cashier-level reports (including meal and discount slips and refund documentation), and review daily paperwork to make sure the actual deposit matches the expected deposit. 


  1. Safe audits are conducted and documented every manager shift change 
  2. Daily paperwork is reviewed, and results are noted 
  3. Daily deposits are reconciled (actual amount versus expected amount) 
  4. Deposits are made on time 
  5. POS codes are not shared and are changed regularly 
  6. Store keys, register keys, and/or swipe cards are not issued to employees or laying around 

Policy violations almost always lead to theft and loss. Encourage your management team to coach the employee’s behavior before there is loss. By following these steps, you’ll make it harder for your employees to steal, thereby discouraging the “irresistible opportunities” in your restaurants. 


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