Operating a profitable restaurant is a tough task. There is plenty of competition, margins are thin, and it is hard to build trust with local residents if you are new to the business. As any restaurant owner or manager will know, one of the biggest profit centers in the entire restaurant should be the bar. There are significant margins to be made in the bar, so padding your numbers here can help make up for off-nights in the dining area.
And what do you need to in order to have a profitable bar? A great bartender, of course! A memorable and friendly bartender can keep patrons coming back over and over again. With that in mind, you do have to be careful not to put too much trust in any one bartender. This is a job that is prone to theft, if only because it is relatively easy to have some of your profits ‘walk’ out the door without anyone being the wiser.
To make sure your bartender is not doing more harm than good, consider putting some of the following measures in place.
One of the easiest ways for a bartender to steal money while on the job is to simply slide cash into the tip jar which was actually meant for the cash register. A couple of basic steps can make this more difficult. For one thing, the tip jar should not be located immediately near the register, where money can go back and forth without any trouble. Also, the tip jar should not be used for making change.
When the time comes to perform a monthly inventory of the liquor on hand, bartenders should not be involved in the process. If a bartender has been stealing money, and that theft may show up in the inventory – with not enough liquor on hand to justify the sales totals – the bartender may ask to help with inventory as a way to intentionally skew the numbers.
It is common for a bartender, when faced with a shortage of funds in the register, to claim that management approved some comp’d, or free, drinks. There should be a system in place to make sure that this was actually the case, and some form of documentation needs to be used. When comps are documented, it will be easy to add them into the totals when things are reconciled.
At the start of a shift, a bartender is going to be provided with a certain amount of cash in the register. If, at the end of the night, there is not enough cash to match up with sales, the bartender may simply state that the register was short to start the shift. This can be a tough argument to counter, unless you require that every bartender count and confirm their till before the shift begins. Once they have signed off for the register, they are responsible for the funds when all is said and done.