How Bartenders Steal & How We Catch Them - Hospitality Checkpoint is a Bar Theft & Service Staff Evaluation Company. We spot Bartender Theft & Evaluate Service Staff Standards.

Bartender theft. Bartenders processing transactions from cash pile. Open drawer theft transactions.

June 15, 2010 22:59 by administrator

Bartender Summary                                                       

The following bartenders were observed the evening of the sixth:

  1. Bartender 1: Latina Female, 5'7", medium build, blonde hair past the shoulders pulled back in a ponytail, black XxxxxX tank top, black choker with transparent rose at front
  2. Bartender 2: Latino Male, 5-9, medium build, textured and gelled black hair and goatee, white tee shirt, black vest, upper arm tattoos
  3. Bartender 3:  Latina Female, 5'6", medium build, dark hair past the shoulders, black XxxxxX tank top, large hoop earrings
  4. Bartender 4:  Latina Female, 5'7", medium build, dark hair past the shoulders with bangs, black XxxxxX tank top under black cable-knit sweater, hoop earrings

The agent entered the bar and was very promptly greeted by Bartender 1.  She immediately took drink orders and presented drinks on cocktail napkins. 

After this first greeting, the agent never observed any bartender actively making an effort to solicit drink orders, nor asking if patrons wanted refills or additional drinks. This was surprising and disconcerting. Customers had to get their attention, and although it was easy enough to flag one down sales for the house and tips for bartenders would likely be improved by a bit more suggestive sales.

Nevertheless, the bartenders were very responsive and prepared drinks quickly, but the music was so loud it was hard to demonstrate friendliness or personality. 

All bartenders did an excellent job of using cocktail napkins for each drink. 

Some gaps were apparent in bartenders' proclivity to upsell: customers that asked for neat liquors or water without specifying a brand or bottled received a premium product without being asked, but none of the bartenders tried to up-sell the liquor in mixed drinks. 

Only Bartender 3 had a consistent 4-count pour (1 ½ oz).  The others were all extremely variable, with all varying between 6-count and eight count pours for all other drinks.  This means that a full third to half of the average liquor pour is not only being given away for free, it is also leading to patrons being served more than they anticipate, and actively discouraging them from ordering additional rounds, as they essentially get a free drink for every two. 

In one instance, at 22:34, a Bartender one was seen to pour an 8-count of Bombay sapphire, then notice that there was less than half an inch of liquor in the bottle and pour the last of it into the glass.  This means that she poured roughly three times the standard amount into one drink. 

Some small degree of variability in pours is understandable at busy times, but it is the agent's opinion that these should be serious red flags. Further, the agent suggests the immediate implementation of pour control measures such as blind pour-testing and scrupulous inventory compared against Aloha sales reports, and possibly a pour control system such as Posi-pour.  Posi-pour spouts are available in a number of sizes.

Please be advised that the one draw back of these spouts is that bartenders learn to lean or bounce the bottle for additional alcohol.

Pour testing on a reglar basis is usually the most effective means of control.

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The establishment could make good use of larger sized pour spouts since many wide-mouthed bottles had no spouts and their pours tended to be even more variable still.  In one case, the agent observed Bartender 2 pouring more than four ounces of liquor from such a bottle. That is a ridiculous amount of alcohol.

 Wider Free Pour Spout

padMedium flow, hard plastic free pour spout with oversized red cork to fit Patron bottles and most half-gallon and 1.75 liter bottles.

Other irregularities include Bartenders 2 and 4 both a glass in order to scoop ice, a practice that can lead to serious injury and liability for the establishment in the event of a patron swallowing small glass chipped off in the ice well.

Bartender 2 was also observed giving an unrung yellow drink in a Collins glass to a man photographing patrons (Latino Male, 5'6", stocky build, button-down shirt and slacks), who was also allowed behind the bar to take photos of patrons.  Drink was not recorded which Agent deems a theft issue.

Additionally, another man (Latino, 5'10", muscular build, dark flat-topped fade, Grey suit with black tee shirt) was allowed to come behind the bar three times over the course of the night, and walked away each times with bottles of soft drinks.  The agent suspects that the latter individual is in a position of authority at the establishment, but this is all the more reason why he would do well to either ring in his drinks as comps or ask an employee to do so for the sake of inventory controls. Agent would strongly suggest that management make it policy that no beverages whatsoever ever leave the bar without being accounted for.

The standard ordering process of the cocktail server (Latina female, blonde hair past the shoulders, black XxxxxX tank top and black pants) was similarly fraught with problems, as she would walk behind the bar to ring in her orders, then ask the bartenders to prepare the drinks every time. 

This system allows for the cocktail server to either misreport what she has rung in, or to just not ring anything in at all, leaving her free to pocket any cash.  Compared to this additional opportunity for employee fraud and theft, it would be relatively inexpensive and easy to install one more POS outside of the bar that would print to a new printer so that all drinks would be recorded. Alternatively, the low-tech solution would be for her to ask the bartenders to ring in and make the drinks, but this still would not remove the possibility of a cocktailer and bartender working together in collusion to defraud the establishment. 

In sum, and in the Agent’s opinion, this is a major breech in management’s security system and is a gapping hole for theft opportunity. 

Finally, all bartenders were making change from stacks of bills on top of their drawers that then eventually went into the tip boxes.  Agent was absolutely astounded by this practice. It is likely that this was just a practice to avoid having to make change from tips later, but this presents a huge opportunity to store un-rung cash for one's self on the drawer, or even to just waste time and make honest mistakes, as the number of times the money is counted and handled increases exponentially with this method.

In particular, Bartender 4 might have taken advantage of this system to pad her tips dishonestly, as she was observed at 22:50 and 23:27 ringing in cash orders very quickly in such a way that the total was not displayed on screen afterward as is usually the case.  Immediately afterward, she would make change from her pile of bills on top of the drawer, dealing with the customer as usual.  Since no total was displayed, the agent suspects she might have been deleting the orders immediately after having seen the prices but before sending the order, but it was observed only  twice and was done too quickly to say with certainty exactly what was done.  

This behavior in the bartenders’ process development of ringing drinks should be halted immediately. Agent cannot stress this enough. Agent cannot substantiate these numerous theft occurrences because of the aforementioned clearing of the screen; however, it is HIGHLY suspect and in the Agent’s opinion, the employees are exploiting this flaw in the system to steal, and probably great amounts of revenue too.

Additionally, management should instruct bartenders to not use an arm, head or any type of the body to obscure the screen, and additionally, be instructed that the practice of immediately “clearing” the screen will be help with immediate suspicion of theft.

Other than these instances, all bartenders recorded all drinks immediately after service and kept the register drawer closed after each transaction and did charge the appropriate amounts for drinks.  Generally, there were clearly many opportunities for theft, some of which the bartenders were taking advantage of, whether knowingly or not.

The bar top and back bar were kept generally clean, and the barback (Latino male, 5'8" closely cropped dark hair and narrow full beard) did an excellent job of moving with a sense of urgency and staying on top of his duties, but often when the bar staff was busy a few bottles would be out of place on the back bar.  Empty glassware and used napkins were cleared very quickly.  All bartenders were drinking unidentifiable drinks in glasses with ice behind bar, but no eating was observed.  Otherwise, all bartenders appeared hygienic and professional.

Bartenders 3 and 4 were seen to ignore the bar for four minutes at a time while texting nonstop from 22:40-22:44 and 22:34-22:38 respectively. 

All liquor laws were obeyed to the fullest with no over-serving or serving of uncarded patrons observed.

Michael Zenner - CEO  
hospitality checkpoints Inc.  (blog)
Hospitality Checkpoint PLLC
PI Lic. 1597616
PO BOX 995 Gilbert AZ 85299
Office: 480-777-7056
Toll Free: 800-880-0811

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