We get a lot of clients who call us because employees have stolen from them. Sometimes it's obvious things like taking money from a cash register, or writing checks to themselves. Sometimes it's less obvious, like ringing up refunds in the register after their customer has left, and pocketing the money.
One of the challenges of being an entrepreneur is we want to hire people to do work for us so that we can focus on what we do best. That could be working on growing your business, doing marketing, or actually producing the product or service that makes your business run. So it's really discouraging when we see stories in the news or have clients call us because of employee theft.
But think about this. Think about where your employees are not actively or intentionally stealing from you, but they're doing so negligently. They are so inefficient with their jobs, they don't understand the right way to do things or the best way to treat customers. Imagine having an employee that makes one of your customers so angry that that customer never comes back, and he or she tells 20 of his or her friends what a horrible experience she had. This is why it's so important for business owners to have controls in place to keep track of metrics and to hold employees accountable. It takes time to do that, but the cost of not doing it could really put you out of business.
You need to monitor your employees' performance, and hold them accountable. Are they following proper documented procedures, or are you expecting them to read your mind?
When it comes to employees handling cash, writing checks, and paying bills, you need to be extra diligent. You should consider not giving employees check-writing authority but instead just giving them a credit card with a spending limit. That way, you can know of every expense that gets made, report any fraudulent charges, and not have to worry about what checks are being written.
On top of that, you can make sure that any checks have to have two signatures or any checks over a certain amount have two signatures, and you should talk to your bank about how best to do that. It's important not to abdicate responsibility. It's important not to just dump a job on someone without giving them a full explanation of how to do it. And it's vital that you follow up on the work that you've delegated either consistently or periodically through spot checks.
This can help prevent both intentional and unintentional employee theft.
Discovering employee theft can be difficult. Proving it to the police or a Judge can be even more difficult. And getting the money back may be nearly impossible.
Don't be afraid to track your employees tasks, spot check their results, or monitor their activities.