Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Inventory Control: Safeguarding Against Theft

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jun, 13, 2011 @ 09:06 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 3: Theft-Reduction Procedures

Theft ReductionMore often than not, scams and thievery can be detected and/or prevented relatively easily. Strict enforcement of all employee rules is a must and vigorous prosecution of any offenders is essential. Employees must be made clearly aware of the dire con­sequences of flouting the house rules - every detail must be addressed.

  • Have a manager total the cash at the end of a bar shift. While the bartenders may feel distrusted, you can always point out that the rule is in place to protect honest staff.
  • House rules. All new members of staff should be required to sign a confirmation that they have read the house rules, fully understand the impli­cations involved and agree to follow the rules to the letter.
  • No drinking on duty. Prohibit all bartenders from drinking while on duty. Also, strictly regulate off-duty drinking. Off-duty drinking can see fellow bar staff overpouring, giving away free drinks or undercharging their colleagues, and while staff should be encouraged to socialize with patrons after hours, this should be closely watched.
  • Bartenders should not be involved in the
    stock-taking and inventory-counting process. Nor should they be involved in receiving, ordering or issuing inventory. It might be a painful process, but this really should be a management-only function.
  • High-value inventory. Strictly enforce all security procedures for liquor, wine, beer, spirits and any other high-value inventory. Only key personnel should have access to storage areas, and everything that comes out should be duly noted.
  • Require bartenders to record post-shift bar-
    par readings. This refers to the number of bottles left in fridges and behind the bar after a shift has ended. Engage in spot-checking of this count to ensure that no thieving is taking place.
  • Prohibit the practice of recording more than one transaction per drink ticket. If your bartenders are allowed to use a "running" ticket, they can easily neglect to record all the drinks they have actually sold and pocket the difference.
  • Strictly enforce voiding procedures. If an amount is rung up on the register, the bartender should not be allowed to void it without management approval.

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, Bar staff, liquor theft, Bar Management, bar control, inventory counting, inventory control

Inventory Control: Safeguarding Against Theft

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Jun, 08, 2011 @ 09:06 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2: Common Excuses for Theft

TheftWhy do they do it? Your bar is a good place to work; you're a decent boss - you pay above-average wages - why does your staff feel the need to break the law? Put simply, human nature is to take something for nothing when the chance arises. An informed bar manager is in a far better position to fight losses from theft.

  • Greed. Theft isn't always about needing a little
    something extra to pay the bills; some employees
    just plain old enjoy beating the system. The
    thrill of getting a sneaky ten bucks is far more
    important to these people than the actual dollar
  • Rationalizing criminal behavior. "I didn't think
    it was hurting anybody," is a terrible excuse, but
    you'll hear it again and again. A little fiddle here
    and there is seen, in some employees' minds, as not doing anyone any harm.
  • Tip boosting. Some employees feel that if a customer isn't doing his or her part by leaving a reasonable tip, then turnabouts is fair play. Tips make up a significant part of any bartender's pay, and when the tips are low, they try to make up the difference in other ways.
  • Resentment. People don't always take orders, or discipline, well and sometimes members of staff who feel "picked on" will strike out by "getting even" with the manager or the venue that they feel has wronged them.
  • "It was there." Human beings can be impulsive creatures, and sometimes leaving the opportunity for a staff member to defraud the system is all the person in question needs to kick into action: "I don't know what came over me!"


This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: inventory managers, liquor theft, managing liquor inventory cost, bar business, Bar Management, bar control

Inventory Control: Safeguarding Against Theft

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jun, 06, 2011 @ 09:06 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1: Scams to Watch For
inventory control
Employees can very easily fall into a habit  their employers, and if you're not careful, you can be caught out for thousands of dollars, not to mention disgruntled customers. Keep an eye out for these 14 favorites:

  • The substitute. An employee buys his own bottle of a fast-moving spirit, brings it in at the start of the shift, and over the course of the night substitutes his own for the bar's bottle. Every time he sells a shot of this product, he then simply pockets the money, thus earning a large profit on his own alcohol while your stock stands still. While these people are not thieving your stock per se, they're thieving your business, so ensure you stamp or mark all of your spirit and liqueur bottles; check the empties regularly, and keep employee bags away from the bar and stockroom areas.
  • The short-pour. Your bartender short-pours every shot of a particular fast-selling spirit by between 25 and 50 percent, keeps note of how many shots she's sold from the bottle and when she's sold the number of shots that usually come from the bottle, she pockets the money from the remaining shots. Make sure that you check register receipts against the bottles used, and if possible, you use a computer-controlled pouring system, to take the opportunity to scam out of the employee's hands.
  • The "00."   Some registers can be opened with the press of just one button or from entering in a total of $0.00. Unbeknownst to some bar operators, this is the number-one means of rip-offs by staff. A customer buys a beer and gives the bartender a fiver. "Keep the change," says the customer as he walks off, so the employee hits the "register open" button, puts in the five-dollar bill and takes out five dollars in coins and singles for his or her pocket or tip jar. How do you avoid this scam? Remove that button. Your cash register provider can do this with no problem at all, and if a customer needs change in the future, your bartender simply asks him to wait for another sale to take place. Or even better, provide change machines.
  • Bogus breakage. Oops! A full vodka bottle hits the floor and the bar loses, big time. But did it really hit the floor? You might have a breakage bucket in which your staff are to put any broken bottles to show that they actually broke, but how do you know that the contents weren't poured into a hip flask beforehand? Or worse, that the contents were sold and the proceeds pocketed? The answer is simple: start a "you break it, you pay for it" rule. Of course, you don't need to enforce this rule if you don't think people are taking advantage, but it will stop the thieves.
  • Wasted waste. 'The beer lines were a little gassy today." Well, that might explain the two gallons of beer waste in the drip trays - but does it really? Pocketing the money for a draft beer and pouring a glass of water into the drip tray is an age-old scam and very hard to detect. Make sure your staff keep measurements of any beer waste and keep track of who wastes what. In time, any trends should become apparent, and even if certain staff members aren't crooked, you'll be able to tell very easily if they need lessons at pouring beer.
  • The backhander. Your security staff might not feel that taking ten bucks to let someone into the front of the line is wrong, but at the end of the night, when the person who paid that ten bucks has to go home because she's out of cash, it's your potential bottom line that suffers. To combat this, simply ask someone you know to go to the door and offer a kickback to jump the line. If the kickback is accepted, you need a new security guard.
  • The over-charger. Your bartender either rings up a price higher than what you've set for a drink or charges regular prices but rings up "Happy Hour" prices, pocketing the difference. To combat this, ensure that cash register tapes are changed at the end of every shift and the bartender explains any "Happy Hour" discounts. Likewise, ensure that all drink prices are posted clearly for your customers so that they can identify an overcharge.
  • The over-pourer. This bartender simply pours more than he or she needs to and hopes for a hefty tip. Keep an eye on your inventory, and this one should be easy to spot.
  • Rounding up rounds. Bartenders tally up a round of drinks as a "total price," rather than as separate items. This makes it easier to inflate that price without it being noticed by the customers. They then pocket the difference when they ring it up. To combat this possibility, keep drink prices clearly posted behind the bar or on table menus.
  • The "soft" scam. Your bartender simply neglects to charge for the mixer component of a drink, thus peeling a small bonus for every mixed drink he or she sells. This should be easy to spot if you check register ribbons, but if you don't, your staff can make a fortune.
  • The "padded" tab. When your customers run a tab, the bartender pencils in an inflated total, takes the money from the customer, then later erases it, replacing it with a correct total.
    Removing pencils from behind the bar and telling your staff that they must use pens is the best way to fight this one.
  • The substituted cash register tape. This ingenious little plan involves the bartender leasing a cash register just like yours and bringing in his or her own prepared cash register tape, substituting it for the real tape and pocketing the cash difference. Essentially, if you keep bartenders from "Z"ing their own tapes, you'll prevent this from being possible.
  • The refund. This is a simple, small-time scam where the bartender claims that a discrepancy in his or her takings was refunded to a customer for money lost in faulty vending machines or gaming equipment. Have any customer seeking a refund fill in a small claim form, with phone number and ID details included, and this shouldn't be an issue. Most customers won't mind doing this if they have a legitimate refund claim.
  • The jigger switch. The bartender brings in his or her own shot glass that seems identical to your normal barware, but is actually smaller. After several short measures, the bartender can start pocketing money without the inventory showing a shortage. Fight this by clearly marking your pouring measures and doing regular checks of your bar equipment.


This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, liquor theft, bar business, Bar Management, bar control, inventory counting, inventory control

Managing a Bar: Drinking On The Job: Dont Do It!!!

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Jun, 02, 2011 @ 16:06 PM

by Bob Johnson

Part 3NoDrinking andDriving

Charley is on my mind everyday.  He was a bartender who worked at a place where I was a regular customer. Charley was allowed, and encouraged, to drink with the customers.  He was my friend and I did everything I could to get him to stop drinking at work.  “It doesn’t matter what they allow you to do, Charley, stop the drinking!” I would say.   “You shouldn’t have to be told.  Professional bartenders don’t drink while working—ever!”  

Professional managers don’t drink while working either.  But if the managers are drinking, don’t you think every staff member is drinking?  Of course they are. 

Managers set the tone.  Managers lead by example. Charley had quite a bit of Patron one night, and then mixed it with a few Jagerbombs.  He didn’t make it home that night—nor did the family of four he crashed into on their way to early morning mass.  He fell asleep at the wheel from the drinking and crossed over the center line.  The case is pending, but a massive lawsuit has been brought against the owner, investors and managers of the club where Charley worked.  You see, the owner and managers encouraged their people to drink while working.  It’s good for business, they rationalized. 

And Charley?  He survived the crash (the drinker usually does).  But his life is over.  Charley has to be sedated everyday to stop the crying.  He can’t eat.  He can’t do anything.  He was once a really good guy, but today he can’t live with himself for what he did to those innocent people on their way to church. They’re gone.So go ahead bartenders, managers, servers, security persons,  keep drinking at your place of work.  It’s not your investment or your liability.  Somebody else owns the club, so what do you care?!  

Yeah!  Party down!  Continue to show the ultimate disrespect to your owner.  Do something for him that could possibly bankrupt his entire investment and land him in jail. Go get yourself another shot of Patron, Mr. Manager!  Do a shot with your bartender!  Yeah!  Follow it up with a Jagerbomb or two!  Yeah!  You’re the life of the part now, aren’t you? 

I wish you knew my friend Charley. 

Topics: Bar staff, Bar Management, hospitality jobs, bar control

Managing a Bar: Drinking On The Job: Dont Do It!!!

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, May, 30, 2011 @ 11:05 AM

by Bob Johnson

Part 2Drinking on the Job

When you, Mr. Owner, hired a bartender or manager, did you include the consumption of beverage alcohol as part of the job?  Of course you didn’t.  So why would you allow it?   If a bartender or manager chooses to consume a bever age alcohol product for their personal consumption while working, they’re stealing from you!  It’s grounds for immediate termination.  It’s no different than working at Wal-Mart and helping yourself to a few DVDs or a pack of gum and not paying for it.  It’s called “shoplifting” and people go to jail for stealing company property. I have too many bartender friends who got into the habit of having a couple of drinks while working.  The customer buys the bartender a drink, and the bartender gladly accepts.  Now the bartender is up to “quite a few” every day.  Then the bar tender nds himself “having to have a few” on their days off.  Then they have to have several drinks a day just to “balance out.”  

This is called addiction. It’s called alcoholism, and they’ve got a problem they’re going to have to battle the rest of their life.  As the owner or general manager, are you encouraging these people to have drinks at work?  If so, you may be the one responsible for this person’s alcoholism.Alcohol is for the customer to consume, not the bartender or other staff members.  Bartenders simply prepare it and serve it—that’s it!  Why can’t bartenders or servers simply accept a non-alcoholic beverage, like a Red Bull, Frappuccino, cup of coffee, bottle of water, Coke, etc.?  Why does it have to be a drink containing beverage alcohol? Police don’t drink alcohol while working, bankers don’t drink alcohol while working, retail clerks don’t drink alcohol while working, emergency room personnel don’t drink alcohol while working, sports teams don’t drink alcoholwhile working, so why do bartenders and managers feel they’re entitled to consumealcohol while they’re working? It’s stupid, it’s unprofessional, it’s self-serving and in many states, it’s illegal (and  it should be illegal in all states).

Topics: Bar staff, Bar drinks, Bar Management, bar control

A Successful Bar Begins With a Quality Staff

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, May, 26, 2011 @ 09:05 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

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Part 1: Hiring the Best Possible Staff

Finding the Right People

A successful bar operation depends on people more than anything--the people coming into your bar and the people behind it. How you treat your staff, how you find them, how you train them and how they work are keys factor in hospitality success. Many bar managers find that one of the most difficult tasks in their job is finding the right people to join their staff. If you want the best possible employees (and you shouldn't want anything less), these rules might assist you in your search:

  • Headhunt. If you want simply to fill a handful of roster slots with physically able bodies, classified ads may be a fine option. Classified ads will certainly bring you applicants. However, the best hospitality people are generally not unemployed; they're already working for your competition. Take a look around the better local establish­ments. If you see someone worth headhunting, make him or her an offer.
  • Ask your existing staff. They can be a great source of new staff; they usually know plenty of industry colleagues that would be a nice fit in your bar, and though you don't want to form "cliques," a personal reference from someone you respect sure as heck beats a cattle call.
  • Offer a finder's fee.  If someone working for you brings in a new employee that stays with you past a probationary period, a $75 bonus will get your existing people thinking hard about staffing possibilities.
  • Keep applications on file! If someone walks in the door and asks for a job when none has been advertised, you can bet they already know and like your establishment and truly want to work there. Motivated souls such as these make prime pickings, so don't disregard their applications - keep them and get in touch when you need to.
  • Time is money. Don't waste too much of it by interviewing everyone who applies to you. If an applicant isn't to your initial liking, thank him or her for the application and move on to someone who is.
  • The need to earn. It's traditionally thought that the more stabilizing factors there are in a person's life, such as being a student, having a mortgage or being married with children, the less likely that person will be to leave suddenly or jeopardize his or her job through tardiness.
  • What are you looking for exactly? Different roles require different skills. While not every position requires abundant experience, every position does require a mix of stability, intelli­gence, personality, honesty and a willingness to work. If an inexperienced applicant shows these qualities, look past any lack of skills and make an investment in a quality human being with training.
  • Every employee is a reflection of your corporate personality. It's important that employees view every customer as a potential friend, not an irritation. Certain people can light up a room with a smile, and if you can find two or three of those people, your customers will be back.
  • Never interview an applicant who has just made his or her application. Let him or her show enthusiasm when you call about an interview at a later date. If the applicant can't make it or doesn't show up, you're better off without.
  • Ask the right questions. If you want to be sure you have all the information you require from each person, put together a list of questions in advance. This will allow you to get comfortable, focus on the answers and stay on target.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for a demonstration. If a prospective bartender has trouble uncorking a bottle of wine or mixing a good martini, it's better that you find out ahead of time.

How Do You Test for Honesty

Dishonest employees are not always going to make themselves obvious. Sometimes the person with the biggest smile has something even bigger to hide. When hiring your staff, how can you go about discovering who is to be trusted and who should be shown the doors?

  • Background check. This might seem a draconian tactic to determine if your potential employees are who they say they are. You can run a check on your prospective staff online through an outfit like US Search (, who will take the person's details and run a check on credentials for only $59.95 - $99.95 for a criminal background check. The results of these searches can, in most cases, be e-mailed to you within 24 hours, with full details taking up to seven days.
  • References. Thorough checking of all references is a must, especially for a person interviewing for a position of trust. Call every company listed on the employee's resume and be sure to ask the correct questions: Why did the person leave? How long was she there? What position did he hold? Would the company gladly take him back if given the opportunity?
  • Credit check. If prospective employees will be in a position where they're exposed to a large amount of money, it may be prudent to run a credit check before you employ them.
  • Sometimes the simplest approach is the best. Why not just ask potential employees if they've ever taken something that wasn't theirs? Watch their body language when you ask the question. Do they blush? Do they avert their eyes? Do they fidget? Do they nod their head, as they say "no"?





This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: Bar staff, bar business, Bar Management, bar control

Better Inventory Management Equals a Better Bottom Line

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Mar, 02, 2011 @ 15:03 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 4 of 6: Securing Inventory to Reduce PilferageimagesCA7DOHTK resized 600

Don't leave stock security to chance. Any slackness in this area can seriously dent profits. Your central storeroom may well be as secure as a vault, but this isn't good enough. Tight security is essential in all locations where inventory is stored - from reception to behind the bar. Design a security system that ensures that all liquor, wines and beverages stay in their correct location throughout the operation. The following security techniques will help reduce pilferage:

  • Storeroom keys. Change locks and combinations regularly. Insist that all keys remain on the premises at all times.
  • Roll-down screens and lockable cabinets. Keep high-value inventory inaccessible to cleaning staff and other employees when the bar is closed.
  • Limit access. Only key members of staff, such as management, receiving and storage personnel, should be allowed to enter the storeroom. It is also a good idea to limit the issuing of inventory to specific, set times.
  • Lockable refrigerators and walk-in coolers. All storage areas should be completely lockable. Alternatively, have at least one lockable shelf for the highest-value inventory.
  • Bar stock security. Danger zone! Keep the quantity of liquor and beverages stored behind the bar to a workable minimum.
  • Investigate state-of-the-art locking devices. They may prove a sound long-term investment. Systems that involve combinations, codes, PINs and swipe cards are becoming increasingly popular.

Topics: Bar inventory, NightClub Management, bar control, managing liquor costs

Establishing Effective Purchasing & Receiving Strategies

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Wed, Feb, 02, 2011 @ 14:02 PM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

Part 4 of 7: Simplify Purchasing Procedures and Define Duties

Keep Purchasing Procedures SimpleInventory Inspection Checklist sm

Whatever the size of your operation, certain repetitive purchasing procedures are unavoidable. At the very minimum, a buyer has to complete a purchasing requisition, a purchase order, a shipping instruction, a receiving report and carry out some form of quality control. Purchasing procedures, however, exist for a good reason. Save time, effort and money by simplifying them.

  • Change your attitude. Instead of viewing purchasing procedures as an irritation, think of them as a support system. Accurate documentation in this area has rescued many a business  from the jaws of liquidation.
  • Concentrate on basics. Buyers should always have adequate purchasing procedures in place. The key, however, is to avoid overkill. If a certain procedure in the buying cycle is irrelevant to your establishment, get rid of it. A written requisition, for example, may not be necessary if you regularly "call off stock ordered on a contract basis. Adapt and be flexible.
  • The purchasing requisition. Save time. Establish a pared-down requisition procedure that identifies ongoing requirements and automatically triggers the purchasing cycle.
  • The purchase order. No skimping here! The purchase order is a legal contract between purchaser and vendor. Even in small organiza­tions, the purchase order needs to be put in writing. Get it right. It can save time, hassle and money in the long run. A computer-generated purchase order considerably reduces human error.
  • The shipping instruction. Keep it simple. This piece of documentation is merely a confirmation of instructions from the buyer to the seller. Whether handwritten or computerized, the shipping instruction needs only to contain simple information. It should include the purchase order number for the shipment, and it, too, should be numbered for record-keeping purposes.
  • The receiving report. Again, simplify. Although an important document in the purchasing cycle, it only needs to contain basic information: the quantity and condition of the merchandise, whether the merchandise tallies with the original purchase order, a record of stock shortages, the recipient's signature and the date of receipt.

Define Your Purchasing Duties

It is all too easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day activities of purchasing. Remind yourself, occasionally, of your areas of responsibility. It helps you to focus on doing a good job.

  • Don't lose sight of your overall goal. Your responsibility, as a purchasing manager, is to maximize value so that your establishment gets the most for its money. No more, no less.
  • The cycle of duties. Always bear in mind that a purchaser's areas of responsibility cover an entire cycle of activities: identifying the needs of the establishment, planning, sourcing merchandise, purchasing, receiving, storing and issuing.
  • Control. Effective management and control of the purchasing cycle, with a constant eye on costs, is your number-one duty.
  • Dealing with vendors. The purchasing department (even if you are a one-man band) is responsible for all external dealings with vendors. The purchaser should be able to handle all vendor-related queries.
  • Avoid taking your purchasing problems onto the "shop floor." Front-of-house personnel will not appreciate interruptions while they are trying to please customers. Apart from emergencies, keep all purchasing queries for later.
  • High standards. It is the purchaser's duty to make sure that all merchandise purchased is fit for its purpose and of a consistently high quality. High standards = good value.

Topics: liquor inventory, inventory managers, Bar inventory, liquor purchasing, Lineup control, Bar Management, bar control, inventory counting, purchasing, inventory control