Restaurant POS inside bar

We all have a favorite pub. You know the ones – friendly bartenders, healthy pours, free drinks early and often. When you’re a customer, it’s like having a backstage pass to show you’re “in” with the band.

When you’re a bar or restaurant owner, it can mean the difference between pure profit and devastating loss.

Unlike meal portions, which can be tracked by individual units, liquor consumption is more difficult to measure, drink-to-drink with pos systems for bars. Some bartenders have heavier hands, while others prefer to shortchange customers with more mixers, less of the pricey stuff. Either way, it’s dishonest and will only serve to kill your business, both financially and through a poor reputation.

The free drink conundrum.

This is probably the most common cause of bar profit losses because it’s a crime your staff may be committing by accident. Like we mentioned earlier, free drinks are at the heart of a neighborhood bar’s existence. If your staff is guilty of handing out some bonus booze to good tippers, it’s likely because that’s simply one of the oldest server tips and tricks out there. But more often, this is a sign of a bartender trying to milk a few extra tip dollars from happy customers, even though you’re the one who ultimately pays.

Bar theft prevention - How to prevent bartends from overpouring


Look, there’s nothing wrong with buying a round for your loyal patrons – just stay in control of when and how often it happens, through your bar POS software!

Regardless of which of the above situations are true, with your bar POS system, you can build in the ability to track whenever a bartender serves a customer one on the house. Honest staff members will enter the free drink , so you can ensure they’re being handed out at agreed-upon frequencies, and that no one is getting over served.

If you think staff might be doing it behind your back, use your bar POS to track overall beer sales vs. quantities moved, to see if there are discrepancies. If you only recall seeing three tabs with draft beer sold, yet more than half a keg was used, there’s a good chance you need to assess some housekeeping items.

Heavy hands = light bank accounts.

Bartenders didn’t get into the business because they want to hear people’s problems. They get into it because it’s a fun way to make money. But, in an effort to appease guests and earn tips, sometimes bartenders’ wrists get locked in the down position a little longer than necessary. Even a half second extra pour time can add up to a ton of lost revenue over the course of a night.

Airports and hotels have metered jiggers attached to their caps to ensure even pours every time. But they’re likely too impersonal for your needs, so instead, you simply choose to watch and trust your staff to serve customers responsibly.

The problem here is that most restaurant managers don’t typically have the time to watch throughout an entire shift.

Thankfully, your bar POS system can serve as an extra set of eyes to measure sales vs. consumption data. If your vodka consumption is skyrocketing, but you only served a handful of mixers, there’s a very good chance someone has a very hefty hand.

In fact, your POS system can even run a mid-shift sales audit, to alert you to notable discrepancies, and to let staff know how well the business is doing.

Underserving is a crime, too.

We’ve all heard stories of watered down, ice-heavy drinks. Those are certainly ethical problems to be concerned with when running a bar. But if a customer isn’t getting the exact amount of liquor for which s/he is paying, then your establishment runs a risk of gaining an unwanted reputation as thieves.

Bartender preparing a drink using tricks

If bartenders are only putting in a fraction of the liquor your patrons buy, not only will your drinks taste bad – a crime in itself – but the odds of guests returning are slim.

More dangerously, bartenders have been known to shortchange customers (and trick POS systems) by making a measured pour, only to take some of that liquor in another glass, which is then either resold, with all profit going to the staff member, or given away for free to a non-paying guest. Either way, it’s theft.

Again, leveraging your shift performance data in the POS can quickly alert you of fraud in the process. If there’s a guy hovering at the bar that has not exchanged any cash but always seems to have a drink in front of him, there’s one red flag. If that particular cocktail wasn’t sold to any seats at the bar throughout the night, it’s a concrete case against a less-than-honest bartender.

Restaurant POS inside bar

At the end of the night, it’s up to restaurant owners to make the most of the popular POS systems for restaurants and put them to work against bar theft. When tallying numbers, be sure to account for all cash, credit swipes, and ticket inventories against the drawer totals and the supply of alcohol consumed.

Often, bar theft problems come down to getting your staff fully trained with the operations of your bar POS.

But sometimes, you also need to gauge your staff’s honesty, which is never fun. Thankfully, your restaurant POS system has tools in place to keep your bar staff honest, accountable and above-board when tipping those bottles, to ensure they provide top-notch service and nothing extra on the side.

See How You Can Protect Your Bar From Theft With Upserve POS!

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Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad's love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University's web team, writing countless pieces about - and enjoying countless lunches from - the school's esteemed culinary program.