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4 Technology-Driven Ways to Reduce Employee Theft in Your Quick Service Restaurant

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Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are particularly vulnerable to employee theft. It’s difficult to spot small amounts of money or product disappearing when on any given day there could be a thousand transactions. And as a franchise owner, you simply don’t have the time to audit every one of them. Because of this challenge, it might take months to gather enough evidence to approach the employee in question. By this point, you’re lucky if you can recover a portion of the stolen sum.

Below, we’ve highlighted the most common ways employees steal from QSRs and how Solink helps you to detect these incidents faster, gather the right evidence and prevent these thefts from reoccurring.

Undercharging

Undercharging is the most common type of fraud that QSRs experience: the employee under-rings the correct price of an item and pockets the difference. They might punch the order in under a promotional price, using employee discounts, voiding it or using $0 options/modifiers in the POS system.

Solution: You should be suspicious of very small transactions, such as under $1. At Solink, we use POS exception reporting in combination with video analytics in order to flag transactions under a certain amount. This is also used to audit transactions with multiple voids. Once the transaction has been flagged, you just have to review the footage and POS data provided to determine if any suspicious activity occurred.

Over the long-term, collecting this data allows you to compare the frequency of these events across all employees and detect outliers, such as an employee whose sales are consistently lower than the average, or when they have too many voids.

No sale transactions

A no sale transaction occurs when the POS system allows an employee to open the cash drawer without changing the balance. There are legitimate reasons to do this, but it also creates an opportunity to undercharge an order or remove cash without a transaction record.

Solution: Normally, you would have to find all the no sale transactions at the end of the day and then manually look for the footage that corresponds to each one.

We automate this process by linking the POS data to the surveillance video. When Solink sends an alert that a no sale transaction occurs, you are also provided with snapshot of the event automatically, and with a click on a button, you access video at the time of the event to see if the employee pocketed any cash.

Giving out product for free

It’s common for an employee to give out free food to friends. The challenge here is that the POS records will not give you any indication that a transaction is missing.

Solution: This is where video becomes crucial. Solink’s Customer Presence and Dwell Detection are two applications that detect when a person is in a designated location and how long they were there.

If a transaction is taking place but a customer is not detected in the video frame (in front of the counter or cash register), we would flag this as a suspicious event.

Similarly, when a customer is detected in front of the counter for a certain amount of time but doesn’t make a transaction, this should be reviewed for potential fraud. It’s possible that they were simply asking the employee a question but it could also be evidence of bad conduct.

Taking out the garbage

If you are using promotional materials such as the Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim to Win cups or McDonald’s Monopoly promotional containers, you will want to pay attention to when employees are taking out the garbage. The way theft is committed is by putting a bunch of the promotional coupons in the garbage and retrieving them at the end of the night while taking it outside.

Solution: First, ensure that your security camera has full coverage of your garbage area. And as a general rule, employees should not be allowed to use a store’s back entrance unless it is to perform work. Coming to/leaving work, or to take a smoke break is not an acceptable reason.

With Solink, you can capture employees using this entrance through detecting motion. When motion is detected, we create an event with a snapshot of the video footage. Managers can quickly review these events to determine whether or not the employee should be there.

Bonus Tip!

Blind spot in the store

A blind spot is an area of the restaurant that isn’t covered by security cameras. If an employee figures out where there’s a blind spot, they can take advantage of it to pocket cash or products.

Solution: As a general rule, managers and store owners should be aware of the location of surveillance camera blind spots. It is also best practice to have your camera angles rearranged throughout the year to ensure that employees do not become wise to the locations of blind spots in-store. This will help reduce employee theft.