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Don't Lose Money You Never Knew You Had: The Compelling Case For Conducting Surprise Cash Counts

One of the most common way's for cashiers (and, of course, bartenders) to earn extra money on the side is to "build the till." It's a simple process of placing all the cash they receive from customers exactly where it's supposed to go, in the cash drawer.

However, every fifth soft drink or small order of fries isn't rung up or an item is rung up at a lower price. The customer, however, is still charged full price for everything. This means more cash is going into the cash drawer than the amount of sales getting rung up on the register.

The dishonest cashier will have some type of counting scheme to keep track of how much unrecorded money has accumulated. Then, at an opportune time (when no one is looking) they will pull the excess cash out of the drawer and pocket it.

Here's a way to tell if one of your cashiers or bartenders isn't ringing up all their sales:

Every so often during a shift (on a surprise basis) pull a cashier's or bartender's cash drawer (swap it out with a different one) and take a register reading, which will tell you how much cash "should" be in the drawer. Count the actual cash in the drawer and if you come up with a cash "overage", you either have a problem with incompetence or someone's cheating. Usually the latter.

Never underestimate the lure of quick cash and the lengths some people will go to get it.

Conducting surprise cash counts on a regular basis continues to be a "best practice" and an effective technique for keeping cashiers and bartenders honest. It always makes good business sense to be double sure you've got solid controls in place whenever you've got people dealing with cash.

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