November 28, 2023

Restaurant Holiday Preparation: 10 Ways to Prevent Theft

The holiday season is a special time filled with joy and festivities, but it also comes with unique challenges for restaurant owners and managers. Before the celebrations, it’s crucial to prepare your restaurant for the holidays and protect it from potential theft. In this guide on restaurant holiday preparation, we’ll explore 10 effective strategies to prevent holiday restaurant theft and get your restaurant ready for a successful and safe holiday season.

1. Stay Vigilant About Cash Variances

As part of your restaurant holiday preparation, remaining vigilant about cash variances is essential. During this season, prevent holiday restaurant theft by closely monitoring your cash registers. Shortages due to simple mistakes should typically balance out in a day or two, but if discrepancies persist, it may be time to investigate further.


2. Implement Cash Handling Best Practices

As part of your restaurant holiday preparation, review and reinforce cash handling best practices. This includes skimming cash drawers, detecting counterfeit bills, and following proper cash deposit procedures. Regularly changing point-of-sale (POS) passcodes can also prevent unauthorized access.


3. Thoroughly Train New Employees to Prevent Restaurant Holiday Theft

Prior to the busy holiday months, many restaurants hire seasonal or temporary staff. Part of your restaurant holiday preparation should include comprehensive training for all employees, especially regarding cash handling and security protocols. This training reduces the risk of losses due to inexperience.

Preparing your employees for the approaching holiday season is crucial. Offering your team training programs that prioritize effective hiring practices, clear communication, improved security measures, and the safety of both employees and customers typically occurs several months in advance.

Senior Director of Loss Prevention and Safety for At Home, Rick Beardsley says, “We do all the basics like everyone does; we implement training related to seasonal things that occur more often, like till-tappers, physical security type of things that could happen around the register, and more. We do a lot of awareness around those things as part of the holiday rush.” (Loss Prevention Media)



4. Prioritize Safety and Employee Well-being

A key element of restaurant holiday preparation is prioritizing the safety and well-being of your employees. Provide training on how to handle potential theft situations without endangering themselves, emphasizing the importance of de-escalation techniques when dealing with difficult customers.

Review and reinforce your restaurant’s policy for handling dangerous situations or persons to ensure that your team is well-prepared and knows how to respond effectively while keeping everyone safe. Foster a safe and supportive work environment, especially during the stressful holiday season, where the safety and peace of mind of both employees and customers are critical.


5. Maintain Clear Communication to Prevent Holiday Restaurant Theft

Effective communication is paramount to a successful loss prevention strategy during restaurant holiday preparation. Hold regular team meetings to discuss security procedures, share insights on potential threats, and promote unity among your staff.


6. Secure Your Establishment

Prevent holiday restaurant theft by securing your establishment. Desperation can lead to robberies, so take precautions such as:

  • Making frequent bank trips to reduce on-site cash
  • Keeping safes closed
  • Ensuring office doors have deadbolts and are locked when not in use
  • Using security cameras to monitor all aspects of your restaurant
  • Display visible signage indicating security measures are in place


7. Anticipate a Decline in Sales

According to Small Business Chronicle, restaurants notice a decline in business during a seasonal holiday, as much as up to 60 percent. As part of your restaurant holiday preparation, it may be beneficial to anticipate a potential decline in sales. Unless your restaurant is in a high-traffic area like a mall or shopping plaza, people may cut back on dining out as they allocate their money to holiday shopping. Adjust your staffing and inventory to align with these expectations.


8. Address Employee Generosity

While it’s heartwarming to see employees being generous during the holidays, it’s essential to monitor for “sweethearting,” where employees provide unauthorized discounts. Sweethearting is a form of theft by an employee, where they give away product to a customer, such as a friend or family member. Cashiers are able to do this in numerous ways, including not ringing up items or price overrides. It’s great to promote generosity among your staff, but make sure they follow the restaurant’s rules to prevent theft during the holidays.

Using an exception-based reporting tool keeps a constant eye on transactions and employee actions by identifying any unusual or unauthorized activities, like giving discounts without approval or using promotions excessively. With a customizable reporting system, you can make reports that fit your restaurant’s needs. These reports help you see where employees might be mishandling food costs and find theft cases.

Click here to see the top exception-reports that restaurant managers should review daily.


9. Leverage Technology for Your Restaurant Holiday Preparation 

Technology plays a significant role in preventing theft. Ensure that your security systems, including alarms and security cameras, are in good working order. Invest in loss prevention tools and training programs to stay ahead of potential threats during restaurant holiday preparation.


10. Guard Against Gift Card Fraud

If your restaurant sells gift cards, establish policies to prevent credit card chargebacks and fraud. Limit the purchase of gift cards with credit cards and educate cashiers on these policies as part of your restaurant holiday preparation.

The holiday season undoubtedly brings a sense of happiness and celebration, but it also presents distinct challenges for restaurant owners and managers. Safeguarding your restaurant from potential theft during this busy time is critical. By implementing the 10 effective strategies outlined here, you can ensure that your establishment is well-prepared to not only capitalize on the holiday rush but also to protect itself against any security threats. As the lights twinkle and the decorations sparkle, may your restaurant thrive in the spirit of the season, offering a safe and enjoyable experience for both staff and customers. With these precautions in place, you can look forward to a successful and secure holiday season for your restaurant.

Ready to elevate your restaurant’s safety measures this holiday season? Contact Envysion today to learn how we can help safeguard your establishment and protect your staff and customers.

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