Constructing a Restaurant Loss Prevention Checklist

restaurant loss prevention checklistCreating a restaurant loss prevention checklist is critical for the success of your company.

Every year businesses lose millions due to customer and employee theft. If your company wants to avoid losses and drive growth, you’ll need the tools and knowledge to do so.

Accountability is the most effective way to avoid losses. So creating a checklist outlining the steps needed to take to avoid losses is the first step towards increased profitability.

What do I include in my restaurant loss prevention checklist?

Policies and Procedures

Have a clear loss prevention policy

If you want to prevent loss in your workplace, it’s important that your employees are fully aware of what you expect.  This not only includes the theft of products and cash but also the theft of time.

Adopt specific opening and closing procedures

The start and the end of the business day sets the tone of your operational standards. Detail the exact procedures to follow when opening and closing, to eliminate loss and theft. Adhere to a system of counting in and cashing out registers, reconciling statements, and storing cash.

Also make sure to have an adequate employee count at open and close for accountability.

Cash handling procedures

Another important procedure is cash handling. Employee training should include the standard policies for cash handling, including how to process exceptions (voids, refunds, etc.), and identifying counterfeit cash.

Manage keys and swipe cards

It’s important to know the location and use of all store keys and swipe cards. Only allow trusted managers with appropriate access to the safe or office. Confiscate access keys and deactivate swipe cards from all departing employees.

Keep doors secured

Make sure all doors and windows are secured as part of your opening and closing procedures. Also monitor access points when trash is being removed or supplies are being delivered.

At the Register

Review POS reports

POS reports can be a goldmine of data, showing where theft is happening and where profit is leaking from your business. All POS reports offers some insight, but when paired with business intelligence like DIGIOP software, your POS reports can identify theft and loss in minutes. This is a crucial part of your restaurant loss prevention checklist.


“Sweethearting” is pervasive in the restaurant industry. Employees offering free food or discounts to friends and family can be incredibly damaging to your bottom line.  Be sure to routinely communicate to your team that giveaways are not tolerated. Again, POS reports can point to frequent offenders when paired to video surveillance to verify the abuse.

restaurant loss prevention checklist

Create checks and balances

Be careful about allowing a few employees to hold too much power. Create a thorough system of checks and balances.

On the Floor

Install Security Cameras

Installing security cameras seems like a no-brainer for loss prevention purposes.  They are used to deter theft from customers as well as current employees.  Be sure you can clearly see high value merchandise with no “dead zones” in coverage. Best practice is to routinely inspect your surveillance equipment to be sure it’s clean and functioning properly.

Manage floor staff

POS reports and trends will help you identify the staff load needed for peak times. Make sure to maintain adequate staffing to increase operational efficiency, prevent mistakes and deter employee theft.

Time theft

On occasion, employees will not use their time wisely. Extra-long breaks, idle conversation, or cell phone use adds up to significant time theft. Again, setting expectations verbally and in writing will help curtail time theft. In addition, be clear about what to do during “down time.” When traffic is slow, employees can always roll silverware, restock shelves, work through a cleaning list, etc.


Foster a positive working environment

This is a step that is often overlooked when it comes to reducing and managing theft in the workplace.  Creating a workplace community that is positive will allow your employees to not only feel comfortable with coming to you about any incidences of theft, but it will also deter employees from stealing in the first place.

Hire well, train better

You should be hiring employees on more than your “gut” opinion. When hiring, have a set of minimum criteria you expect from applicants and write a job description to clearly outline the responsibilities of the position. Have potential employees interview with more than one person and check references. Then after you’ve hired an exceptional employee, invest in a detailed and ongoing training program. Employees can make or break your business.

Employee meals and discounts

Discounted or free meals are an expectation in the food service industry. But it also can be one of the most abused perks. To keep track of employee meals and discounts, have a specific policy and dollar amount. Do not let employees ring themselves out. Be clear that the employee’s discount is for themselves only.  Use your surveillance system to verify that employee or manager discounts are being properly applied.

Return on Investment

Quick service and fast casual restaurants are constantly looking to improve profitability and quickly generate a return on an investment. It’s smart business. A restaurant loss prevention checklist is a simple but effective way to eliminate theft and stop loss.

Many times companies fail to realize the extent of employee theft in their workplace.  Nearly 75% of employees have admitted to stealing at least once from their employer*. From time theft to “sweethearting”, the cost of employee theft totals $3 to $6 billion dollars annually from the restaurant industry alone.

Creating a restaurant loss prevention checklist is a low-risk investment of time which can provide your restaurant with significant benefits. This includes better customer service, increased profitability, and improved store performance.