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Restaurant / QSR Blog

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Loss Prevention and the Drive-Thru

Recognizing and Preventing Theft at Your Restaurant’s Drive-Thru

Quick service restaurant managers place a lot of emphasis on in-store loss prevention. This tendency is understandable, since it seems logical that most losses would occur inside of the store. Have you looked at your drive-thru lately, though? You may think there isn’t much that you can do to improve this area of operations. However, with the right insights, you can easily minimize losses and make this part of your restaurant much more efficient... here’s how.

Credit card skimmers at the drive-thru

Do you know all of the tricks employees can use at the drive-thru? There are plenty, but credit card skimmers are one of the easiest tactics that workers can use to net themselves some extra cash. There have been several high profile cases lately, and this particular scam could happen at any drive-thru if you aren’t careful.

Compare POS data with completed drive-thru transactions

Use your point-of-sale (POS) system to help you pinpoint suspicious transactions, and then use your video surveillance software to review the appropriate footage. By pairing the data with video you’ll be able to easily determine whether employees are engaging in fraudulent activity. 

What should you look out for, though? A common tactic that employees use is waiting for a customer to pay with exact (or almost exact) change. All they have to do is ring up a no-sale and pocket the money. You can set up parameters that flag no-sales and other suspicious transactions within your POS software.

Keep an eye on service at the drive-thru window

Loss prevention isn’t just about spotting employees who blatantly steal cash or credit card information. Your video surveillance insights can also help you spot whether employees are handing out extra food or other perks to customers. One scam that unscrupulous employees use is stealing other items from the restaurant (like household staples, condiments, silverware, and more). They then pass these items to a friend who orders at the drive-thru.

One way to determine if employees are being a bit too generous with their service is to compare your POS data to your current inventory to see whether there are large amounts of inventory that are unaccounted for.

Armed theft and robbery at the drive-thru

You shouldn’t be overly anxious or suspicious about whether or not your employees are stealing from you. There are also external threats to your loss prevention efforts at the drive-thru, and they deserve just as much of your attention. A quick Google search for “drive thru robberies” will net over 16.5 million results, and the pages are filled with news stories about robberies at the drive-thru window. There are even instances where customers were robbed while waiting in their cars.

An extra dose of caution can go a long way, so make sure to double check that your cameras cover every part of the drive-thru. The presence of video surveillance cameras is a good way to deter these types of crime, but it won’t stop every would-be thief. If the worst happens, you’ll have clear video footage to hand over to the police.

About the Author — Christie Acker

Christie is responsible for helping Envysion’s enterprise clients in the retail and restaurant spaces understand the best ways to use video-based business intelligence to deliver on their brand promise and drive profitability. With over 15 years experience in building and supporting world-class sales organizations, Christie is an accomplished and tenured leader in the enterprise software sales market. An avid traveler, she has visited over 60 countries and uses her diverse experiences to help understand clients' needs to design and implement solutions to help achieve their goals. Christie holds a Bachelors degree in Economics from Vanderbilt University.

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