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Prevent Employee Theft from Your Food Truck Business

It is important to take steps to prevent employee theft in your food truck business. Employee theft contributes about $52 billion a year in lost profits, and approximately 95 percent of all businesses experience employee theft. Finding the root causes behind the theft and improving prevention measures is a much more involved process.

Common types of theft include the following:

  • Under-ringing sales: An employee sells something for $15 but rings up only $5; the employee puts the $15 in the register and at the end of the shift, pockets the extra $10. Because the cash in the drawer matches the transactions listed on the register tape, the theft goes unseen.

  • Tearing up order tickets: An employee serves a customer and the customer pays the check, but instead of putting the money and ticket in the register, the employee tears up the order ticket and pockets the cash. You have no record of that specific order or the money from the transaction.

  • Stealing food or taking supplies: An employee eats food without paying for it (and without permission, such as a free meal plan during his shift) and/or steals office supplies, such as paper or postage, for his personal use.

    Although these thefts may seem small when you look at them individually, they’re as bad as taking cash right out of your register and can really affect your bottom line if they happen on a regular basis.

So what can you do to curb these issues? The following tips can help:

  • Require a receipt for every transaction. Ask customers to request a receipt with their orders by posting signs at the service window.

  • Require that the cash register drawer be closed after each transaction. Never leave a register unlocked when unattended. And never leave the register key with a register.

  • Get your employees involved, and ask your staff for suggestions on how to eliminate theft.

  • Conduct employee background checks during the hiring process. When employees aren’t screened properly, you spend more time and money training new employees to replace any dishonest ones.

  • Keep low amounts of cash in the cash register drawer; doing so can also help deter would-be robbers. When they see small amounts of cash in the register, they’re less likely to take the risk of getting caught.

    Pull all large bills ($20 and larger) out of the cash drawer regularly and place them in a secure location, such as a money belt.

  • Conduct physical inventory checks often and at irregular intervals. Also make routine spot checks to make sure your inventory matches your records. Define individual employee responsibilities for inventory control, which helps establish accountability on their part.

Despite your best efforts, a dishonest employee can find a way to steal from your business. If you happen to suspect theft taking place, call your local police department. Don’t attempt to play detective to try to solve the crime yourself, and don’t ever jump to unsubstantiated conclusions. A false accusation can result in embarrassment and possibly an expensive civil case against you.

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