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When you were a child, there were many fundamental life lessons that you learned. Hopefully, one of those lessons was about the repercussions of stealing. I was around the age of 7 when I learned this valuable lesson, walking to the 7Eleven with my sister, excited, because I had the independence of embarking on an adventure of my own (which was only a block down the street from my house). To me, the 7Eleven was not a convenience store but a big candy store that was filled with every treat imaginable, and I could think of nothing worse than a trip there when I didn’t have even a nickel in my pocket. I can remember the bin of tootsie rolls was just at my eye level and overflowing with hundreds of little pieces. How in the world would they ever know if a few went missing? And what would be the harm? So I decided to go for it. Undetected by the 7Eleven owner, I would now have to pull this fast one past my mother. She would never be the wiser.

I was wrong. My pockets of tootsie roll wrappers left a trail in route to the washing machine and shortly thereafter, they left a long-lasting impression after the life lesson I learned that day.

So, what happens when you become an adult? The fundamental rule still applies, but seemingly on a much grander scale.

Let’s apply the behavior of stealing to the restaurant industry.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that restaurants lose approximately 4 percent of all sales to theft, waste and leakage and three-fourths of those losses are a result of employee theft. Surprising, isn’t it? To relate this into a realistic scenario, if you are a restaurant owner making approximately $500,000 in annual sales, you could be losing an average of $20,000 a year due ONLY to employee theft. Doing the quick math paints a clear picture of significant profit loss. One would hope that stealing is not an ongoing occurrence in restaurants and that trust can be established with all employees all the time, but unfortunately, this is not reality. Therefore, theft deterrent systems are necessary to put in place.

Today, some employee theft deterrent options available to restaurant owners are:

1. The old-fashioned honor system: Simply having employees sign a form stating that they will not steal

2. Security cameras: Physical equipment in the restaurant that captures only theft that is very evident and out in the open for the human eye to see

3. Aloha Restaurant Guard: A back office software application that deters employee theft by importing and analyzing a site’s transaction data and identifying potential theft by finding known scam patterns and statistical variances

All very different options to choose from. Which method would you choose to protect your restaurant?

If only five-cent tootsie rolls were the worst of theft issues and wrappers always left a trail, deterring theft would be so easy. Unfortunately, theft does not typically come with a mask.

Sherry Spreter, Senior Marketing Manager