It is astonishing to Google “restaurant bookkeeper convicted of stealing”. The stories are endless and according to law enforcement, few are actually prosecuted. It is a difficult topic as it typically involves an employee once considered very close to the owner. Most business owners choose to keep it quiet when it happens to them.
In every instance the bookkeeper was a trusted employee. Why did they go from being a person who earned your complete trust to stealing? Everyone’s motive is different. It may begin with “just this once”, but then the amounts and tactics expand, and self-confidence increases as it goes undetected.
The reality is restaurant owners can only oversee so much. With the hours required to manage the income producing details of a restaurant and customer satisfaction, it is easy to understand a situation developing to where the bookkeeper is ultimately completely trusted with the restaurant’s financials.
What you will not find when you review the Google articles is bookkeeper embezzlement with Regional Multi-Unit Restaurants. Regionals, with extensive accounting departments, intentionally isolate in-house employees who handle cash and deposits, and sign vendor invoices for deliveries – from those with access to bank accounts, processing vendor payments, scrutinizing costs and financial reporting.
Regional operators are successful by working under the business school teaching that “Only what gets measured, analyzed and corrected improves.” The Regionals’ accounting staff identify and question every percentage variation, every week. If beer costs increase from 22% to 22.5% in one week, the Bar Manager will be answering for it.
What can be done to protect your money?
With proper assembly, coding, recording and reporting of a restaurant’s complete Prime Costs every week, key changes in Prime Cost percentages are instantly visible. Pilferage of funds, food and liquor cannot be hidden. Weekly reports provide a tracking means which enables management to address variations immediately. (See RASCAP Flash Report.)
Experts agree the only real means for the Independent Restaurant owner to keep everyone honest is to outsource their daily bookkeeping to restaurant accounting professionals. When restaurants are owned under a partnership, outsourcing also provides an impartial third party to provide checks and balances, segregate duties and financial management, all without any conflict of interest.