I’ve really enjoyed writing this series and I’m genuinely sad it’s coming to an end. When I first started, I thought I could come up with 5, or even 10 ways a bartender can steal from you. I never thought I’d get to 20. I’m already working on ways 21-40 and can’t wait to get that out to you. We’ll round out the series with 5 more of the most common ways your bar or nightclub is losing money to dishonest bartenders and bottle service hosts.
16. Broken/spilled liquor
It’s a busy nightclub. You have a packed bar and its chest to elbows. Drinks are flowing, music is pumping and your servers and busting hump to get those drinks out as fast as the bartender is pouring them. Accidents happen. Every good manager knows this; that’s why you should always account for a small percentage of broken bottles or spilled drinks. What should raise a red flag is a bartender who records an unusually high number of these instances. Are they really that clumsy, or are they saying the drink was spilled when in reality it wasn’t, and they simply pocketed the cash? The same can go for a bottle service host who always seems to “drop and break” a bottle of liquor. Think of the tip for a free bottle of top shelf liquor!!
I hate coupons. They are not my most prized marketing strategy, but they do seem to work. They also seem to invite tons of employee theft. The scheme here works for either a bartender, bottle service host, or server (basically, anyone with access to a till). When it comes time to close out a tab, they bring the customer the bill. When the bill is closed out, they run that 20% off coupon and pocket the difference. The customer is none the wiser, as the bill is the same amount, and if you’re not controlling how coupons are redeemed, you’d never know. *Best practice* – Make your servers hold on to every coupon they tender to reconcile with their tills each night.
18. Under pouring by 1/6th
In the previous series, I showed you how a bartender can short each drink by 1/3. This one is a bit more complex. The bartender is shorting the drinks all night by 1/6th. This gives him a “free” drink every six shots. The cash for this 6th shot is simply pocketed. If you have a busy nightclub or bar, there is no way a customer is going to tell their 1 ½ ounce shot is short by 1/6th.
19. Happy hour scheme
This one can work two ways. The first is when the bartender rings happy hour prices during non-happy hour times for friends or in hopes of a bigger tip from the customer. The second way this scheme works is that the bartender charges the customer for the full price during happy hour however rings the happy hour price on the POS, pocketing the difference. Often times, the customer doesn’t notice the discrepancy and the bartender can line their pockets each day. If for some reason the customer does notice the price difference, the bartender can simply claim they entered the drink in the register incorrectly, something hard to prove otherwise.
20. One drink, two cups
This one is a clever little trick that bartenders will often pull. If a patron comes to the bar and wants two shots for their table, the bartender will use a single shot and split them between two shot glasses. This allows them to “sell” that extra shot and pocket the cash.
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