The bar and nightclub industry can be very lucrative if you’ve setup a great location with the right staff in place. However, especially on a busy Saturday night, keeping track of all the money that goes in and out of the till and into the tip jar can be a seemingly impossible task. Not only that, but knowing if the bartender is actually ringing up the drinks correctly, or at all, is difficult to ascertain as well.

Let’s face it; bartenders have been ripping off bar owners since the first one was opened, and many people in the industry just chalk it up as a business expense. However, this can really cut into your business’s profits over time and ultimately add up to a hefty sum of money. If you suspect your bartenders of stealing, there are a few changes you should consider making.

Eliminate Tip Jars

One of the easiest ways to control bartender theft is to eliminate as many of the variables as possible. Instead of allowing your bartenders to separate their tips out from the bar’s money, you should have everything go into the till and settle it up at the end of the night under the supervision of the floor manager. This will strip away the possibility of void sales and effectively pocketing the money and also keep a better morale since your bartenders won’t get grumpy on a slow night since they aren’t tracking every dime of their tips.

Random Drawer Audits

Though it’s not the most convenient task, doing random drawer audits will keep your bartenders guessing when someone may be checking their work. If you periodically pull they’re drawer and do an audit without any warning, you can see how they conduct themselves on a daily basis. Just the fact that they know they’re being watched will deter most theft from ever happening.

Inventory Liquor by Weight

When your bartenders get slammed and a lot of transactions are going through the register in a short amount of time, it can be easy for your bartenders to skip drinks to pocket the money as tips; especially if your customers are paying in cash. The good news is that you can quantify how much liquor should be out of each bottle based on the total sales so you can identify any over-pouring or drinks that simply weren’t rung up properly. This not only keeps your bartenders in check, but it also lets you better track your profit margins and liquor costs so you can adjust pricing accordingly.

Camera Systems

Lastly, we have the good old fashioned camera system. Unfortunately, most of the scenarios we’ve discussed won’t be thwarted by camera surveillance, but most bartenders will not steal if they have a camera on the money at all times. Additionally, the video can be used as secondary evidence if you want to watch a series of transactions more closely and line up a chain of events if you’re suspicious.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do to keep your bartenders honest is to make sure the work environment is conducive to loyalty. Avoid overworking and underpaying your staff and most of them will do their jobs correctly and honestly. You should definitely have the systems in place as I described above as a precaution, but hiring great staff and training them properly with the right oversight is your best chance at eliminating theft in your bar or nightclub.