When it comes to this business, the single biggest worry for the owner of a bar or restaurant has to be that can they trust their staff, from cashier, bartender to manager, as temptation is always there.
The closer to cash a manager is, the more likely they are to be fiddling the books, tips, commissions or anything else they can get their sticky fingers on. The bottom-feeder mentality of picking the low-hanging fruit of the hard work of the team can be catastrophic to any business over time if the cancer is not caught in time, and spreads to other weaker staff to hide and cover up the actions of the main culprit.
The warning signs to be aware of can be subtle and almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye.
Language plays a huge part. Mostly body language gives away the guilty. Difficulties with spoken language and the difference between knowing right and wrong but still doing wrong is another point to consider.
Motives are obvious, they are just greedy for money. Surprisingly, even managers on good salaries with great working conditions find it easy to abuse the trust they are given. They find themselves not focusing on the guest experience, but on how much they can line their pockets with.
Pack mentality is one tactic commonly used. The lone wolf cannot operate without an accomplice who has the same distorted morality. If the main manager is showing signs of dominance over other staff, this usually means they are conditioning juniors to cover things up.
Remember it’s easier to hide a misdeed in a busy establishment.
Point-of-sale techniques of concealment are also no less subversive.
Having more than 20 years’ experience of bars and restaurants around the world I’ve seen pretty much everything when it comes to lifting cash.
So, what’s the solution to this nightmare of Alibaba antics?
Accountability and responsibility is the key. First, set the policy crystal clear. No manager is to handle cash, period. All cash over and under at the end of day needs the general manager’s signature to authorise to accounts with full explanation for losses. Change cashier every two years, or move them from site to site. Do not allow discounts unless the GM or owner signs. Make a cash tip record book for every tip to be recorded and accounted for every day, counted at the end of the night and sealed in an envelope. Question all the time, keep a sharp eye and tune into the feeling when you see two people in trusted positions getting too close, and good luck.
Shri Restaurant and Lounge manager Richie Fawcett is an artist, bartender and restaurateur.