cash register comes up short

I am just curious to know how other owners/managers handle when cash comes up short? It’s hard to pinpoint to 1 person since 3-5 people are in the cash drawer during a shift. It’s not always found at the bank either. Do I divide the loss amongst all those who used the cash drawer that night and dock paychecks or do I just eat every time it happens? Thanks in advance.

What you can do will depend on your state law.

In our state, you may deduct a shortage from an employee’s paycheck if the following conditions are met:

  1. Employee is the ONLY person with access to the till. That means others can not take payments on it, be able to “no sale” it or have a key.

  2. Employee must agree, in writing, that they will be responsible for shortages.

  3. Employee must be present to count the till at the start of their shift and at the end.

So here, I would not be able to divide the shortage amongst all employees working and dock their checks. On a side note, that sounds like a really bad way to handle it even if the law allows.

Are we talking big shortages, or a few bucks? I think you need to handle this better with procedures - having 5 employees with access to a till during a shift is a welcome mat for theft.


We tighten the reigns. Only one or two people assigned to the drawer for awhile. If the shortage were to happen from the store to the bank…and wasn’t in the morning till…it would happen once and the second time the manager would be terminated.

Are you talking big money or a couple of bucks?

We have cameras in place.


We also do 3 cash counts a day. Morning, after lunch and close.

In addition to limiting access to the cash, shift around the schedule so you can possibly isolate the problem.
Two aproaches, 1) do everything as subtle as possible so as to not alert the culprit you are on to them. This increases the chance of catching them. 2)Be obvious that you are watching things closer, the culprit will probably stop unless they have a major problem. If they stop and don’t quit they may start again later.

Are you using a register or POS?
With a register it’s a lot easier to screw up the operations and be off on your totals without someone skimming.

It is alot easier to skim with the old cash registers.
Back in the day when i was using them, the drawer would be short all the time. Alot of over too.
Since installing a POS cash register, its 99% even. I also have cameras hooked up which integrates with the POS system and i can pull up all transactions. All No-Sales too.

If your using the old cash registers, i would do unannounced cash counts throughout the day. At least you can pinpoint it when it is occuring.
Also, Don’t be surprised who is helping themselves.

If you have five people in the cash drawer during a shift and only one is causing you greif then you are in effect helping that one person rob the other four. I quit a job over just such an accusation when I was a teenager.

Like Royce said CAMERAS

your first mistake is to many hands in the cookie jar. we do write up and a warning.then termination

Rob T: What type of POS system do you use and do you like it? We are looking to switch and like the idea of being able to integrate cameras. Can you access the POS and watch the cameras from home???

RobT and I both have Foodtec Solutions…very happy after junking my old system for them…yes you can access remotely from home

In our state by labor laws you are not allowed to dock paychecks for any shortages found. Also I don’t think its fair to the other honest employees if you try to make them chip in for what another employee has done. I agree with everyone else you should limit the till to one person and get some cameras in place.

I’m sure we’ve all had some experience of this. I have and luckily managed to catch a guy at it. No ONE thing is going to help you and I’m sure even with all this in places I’ve had money and goods walk out of the shop with staff. And having said that there are always ways for people to rob you you have to accept it BUT you have to do all you can to reduce it or make it very very hard.

A few things to do:

  1. lock the till and give responsibility to a limited number of people (1 or 2)
  2. Count the money at the beginning, and end of day and also when ever control of the money changes hand. During the day we have one manager with access and they do a formal handover when the closing manager comes in.
  3. Have camera’s covering the till and front counter (even then you only need someone to learn over the cash draw or another person to be in front and you can lose sight of the draw). Also make sure you cover ALL the areas where cash will travel i.e. from the till to the office where it is counted and then to the safe etc.
  4. I disagree with keeping it quiet. I’m the opposite. I make sure people know that I know and that I am keeping an eye on it. Big Dave had something a while ago on staff theft and it showed - along the lines of - 10% of people will steal, 50% won’t but 40% may if the opportunity is there. (ok so my figures are not correct but there is a big proportion of people who will do it if they think they will get away with it).
  5. make sure your POS tracks ALL price changes and produces daily reports of all these: order changes, bad orders cancelled orders etc. Get the manager to authorise all of these and make sure YOU review these regularly. Alterations after the shop has closed are one sign as are those where the order is reduced or altered some time later (i.e. 2 pies down to one)
  6. Make sure you do thorough and regular inventory. If someone is white boxing (i.e. selling pies without going through the till/pos) or reducing POS orders (i.e. selling two pies but reducing the order to only one) you’ll soon see. Thsi will also help pinpoint stock theft and over usage. I do daily and weekly for paper. When I have a problem with soda I do counts tow or three times in the day to pinpoint the time and then cctv (which overs the fridge and dry store).
  7. Make sure that your staff are well trained and you have thought out processes. We had issues a while back with people ordering over the phone, coming in to collect (on a busy night) and then telling us they had paid. So make sure you either get money at the point of sale OR at the time you hand over the food. See 4) above - if a customer thinks they can get some food for free then some of them will and you’ll be short.
  8. and probably the most important, be in the shop, pop in at unexpected times, watch cctv remotely from time to time. One of my friends caught a thief purely by chance as he logged onto cctv and saw the guy take the order make and take the money all without touching the POS.

Hope this helps


Good Post Wiz.

Chowtime, if you have any questions about Pizza Director, Feel free to ask me or Famous Pizza. It has significantly improved both our businesses substantially.

I like this idea, Im even going to look into it. Its tough to enforce till rules unless only one person a shift has access to and responsibility for the register. With all due respect, If you docked me for a shortage based on a “you are all guilty” standpoint I would go straight to a lawyer after visiting the D.O.L. I would take a new route rather than try to look back on this issue

We deduct shortages from management bonuses. The bonus is discretionary and is paid on top of wages well above mimimum wage. Cash control is a manager reponsibility.