We all love a good drink now and then, right? The bar and nightclub industry is a profit making machine. Most bars make an astronomical amount of money for every shot their bartenders pour. For a bar that is managed properly, this means tons of money for the owners. This is of course true, provided there are no dishonest employees behind your counters.
There are literally hundreds of ways a bartender or a bottle service host can steal from you. In the next few series, I’m going to highlight some of the most popular and most effective ways that these acts are accomplished. My goal is to provide you with the information to better manage your bars and nightclubs and seek out an eliminate those who are stealing from you.
1. Two employees working together, or collusion. In this case, it’s your bottle service host and a bartender
This is one of the most common types of theft that you may see. It simply involves the two employees above who work together to steal from you and your customers. The basic scenario is the host gets the drink from the bartender, who fails to record the sale. The cash is then pocketed and the two split any ill-gotten proceeds. This works if the table is paying cash and a member of the party orders a drink not already on the table.
2. Bringing their own booze
Personally, this is my favorite. This is more common is a busy nightclub or bar. The bartender brings in their own bottle of liquor (say a bottle of Grey Goose). With some very simple math, the bartender knows he can sell at least 16 shots out of that bottle. Your average shot runs $10. By the end of the night, they’ve made $160 in cash from you and have done it without shorting the bar’s inventory. (I quite enjoy this method).
This is where the bartender claims that a customer walked out on the tab, when in fact, the bartender has pocketed the cash from the customer. You should always be wary of bartenders who have a copious amount of these. While this is statistically bound to happen from time to time, a bartender who has one or two each shift should raise quite the red flag.
4. Returned drinks
This is the service industry after all, right? Often you will have to do whatever it takes to please a customer. Often, that means taking a drink back for a number of reasons. The drink could have been too strong, or perhaps too weak. There may have been a hair in the drink, or the glass was dirty to the customer. Whatever the case, a good bar manager knows that you will have to account for a few returns a night. This is where a dishonest bartender can really do some damage. The drink is consumed by the customer. It’s paid with cash. The bartender pockets the cash and rings the drink as returned, thus accounting for the missing shot. Bartenders with higher than average returns should always be a red flag.
5. Just steal the cash
Why go through all the trouble of making phony register receipts, or purchasing your own bottles, when you could simply just steal the cash from the sale? If you know the customer is paying cash, simply pour the drink and pocket the cash. The sale is never recorded at the point of sale. Without an inventory control measure in place, the bar never knows that the alcohol is missing.
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