Restaurant Scams and Shams – A ‘Comps’ Tale

Ginger HollowellRestaurant POSLeave a Comment

Restaurant Scams and Shams – A ‘Comps’ Tale

Last Father’s Day, I stole $100 from a local restaurant. I didn’t wear a ski mask and wave a pistol in the cashier’s face. I didn’t break into their safe during the dark, dark night. I didn’t have to do anything that dramatic. In fact, it was like taking candy from a baby. Now, before you start thinking you’re reading a report written by a common thief, allow me to explain. I didn’t realize at the time I was stealing anything from that restaurant.

Here’s what happened:

My husband and I took eight people out to dinner on Father’s Day. Turns out the waitress knew my daughter. We had a great time. The food was delicious, and the service was fantastic. When the waitress brought our bill, I thought it looked way too low. I asked her about it and she said she had ‘comped’ all of our drinks. So I asked her: “Are you allowed to do that?” She said, “Of course, don’t worry about it.”

Well, figuring it was my lucky day, I gave her an extra fifty bucks on top of her 20% tip. A win-win scenario! At least I thought it was, at first. But the more I thought about it, I realized I had stolen about $100 from the restaurant’s owner … AND given the waitress a bonus for helping me do it!

So I started wondering how many drinks this server had ‘comped,’ and how many other servers were doing the same thing. Then I started thinking … what else was going on in restaurants all over town that was sucking profits right out of the owners’ pockets?

It’s pretty easy to feel like you’re constantly behind the 8-ball. The last thing you need — with everything else you have to deal with — is to be a victim of the server scams like this one that can turn into a torrential flood and drown your profit margins.

According to a report by the California Restaurant Association, it is the manager, or long-term and trusted employee who ends up being the culprit of restaurant theft.

Because of this growing problem, it is paramount to be aware of the signs and understand how to prevent the theft from occurring.  The key to stopping theft at your restaurant is discerning how it happens and then focusing on the most important areas for theft detection and mitigation: inventory tracking, expense tracking, auditing and hands-on involvement.

With many years of experience in merchant services plus POS full-service restaurant and tablet systems, we’ve done a lot of research on the various ways restaurant owners are losing profits. Call 505-296-2847, to start a conversation about how we can help you abate bartender and server theft, or keep you from losing money on profit siphons you may not be even be aware of!