Archive for September 2012

Theft in your Foodservices operation

Theft is an unfortunate problem that every retail operation deals with, and your café or coffee bar is no exception. In this week’s Blog, we identify the creative and not-so-creative ways customers and employees can steal from you, and take a look at how to prevent or minimize it happening in your operation.

Who is stealing?

Theft comes in many forms. It can be the cashier who doesn’t ring up all the items a friend or colleague has on their tray at the checkout line, or gives an “unauthorized” discount to a coworker. It may be an employee boldly stealing cash out of the register till when they think no one is watching or will notice, or a customer casually walking out the door with unpaid food or beverage items. Whether the intent is to do a friend a favor, a feeling of entitlement or deliberate malice, the financial impact is the same because theft hurts the bottom line of your foodservices operation. Even if you are operating your Café or Coffee Bar as a convenience to your employees, operating costs are still measured and theft is a huge cost.

How do you identify employee theft?

It’s really important to have security measures in place in your operation to identify any problem areas. Your Point of Sale system should be tracking all sales, and allow you to use either shift or transaction security on your registers. The ability to reconcile each cash drawer by cashier is particularly needed in foodservices operations. Always review your system variance reports for discrepancies, and look for patterns in frequent cash shortages to see they map to when a particular employee works. Frequent cash overages may also be a sign of stealing, resulting when an employee stealing cash from the register “light rings” too much to cover for the amount taken. Also look for a high number of “no sale” or “void” transactions during anyone’s shift, as this is a potential red flag for theft activity. To learn about POS solutions for Corporate Dining visit us at or POS solutions for Hospital Food Services at .

The scenario that’s a lot more difficult to identify is when cashier are giving “freebies” to their friends, and not all sales or all items are being rung up at the cash register. Security surveillance helps to control this problem, and serves as a deterrent to theft when employees see surveillance in place. There are many ways to see what is transpiring on the floor, even when you can’t be out there. Be sure to review your sales reports for emerging patterns. Do the average sales of a particular cashier fall below the average sales of other cashiers during the same meal periods and the same days? Is there a higher amount of discounts given during the times a particular cashier is working? These indicate signs of possible employee theft. Find out more about POS solutions at

What can you do to prevent or reduce customer theft?

It’s a good idea to train you staff what to look for, and be alert to out of the ordinary customer behavior. Positioning the cash registers in such a way that it’s just not possible to exit the café without paying for food and beverage items is a huge deterrent. Many facilities have installed mirrors and surveillance cameras, and position the most tempting items in a place where taking them is more difficult.

Reduce Cash Management

The Cafes and coffee bars that offer cashless payment options such as employee payroll deductions and credit cards minimize the amount of cash that their staff handles, and as a result experience less cash overages and shortages. Payroll deductions and credit cards are simpler to manage from an accounting standpoint, and their use certainly reduces the amount of cash overages or shortages. To learn more about payroll deductions, visit

Have you had the unfortunate experience of theft in your foodservices operation? Share your story about how you discovered and dealt with this all-too-common problem.


Upgrade from Windows XP to windows 8

The world’s longest-ever supported operating system, Windows XP, has been set a retirement date: April 8, 2014.

That doesn’t mean all Windows XP will stop working from April 8, 2014 onwards, but it does mean that newly discovered security holes will not be patched by Microsoft.

Many customers of ARBA Retail Systems have already completed their move away from Windows XP to either Windows 7 or Windows 8, and most are well into executing their plan to migrate.  At a minimum, all IT departments are aware of the Windows XP retirement date, and know that action needs to be taken to avoid leaving their systems vulnerable and insecure.

If you’re curious what end of support actually means for users, try imaging Windows XP as a city and Microsoft as the police force. From April 8th, 2014 Microsoft, as the “police”, will stop investigating crimes or making arrests on new criminals in your city. The result is that, over time, the operating system will become increasingly insecure for users.

The end of support date is when Microsoft will no longer provide automatic fixes, updates, or online technical assistance. Without Microsoft support, you will no longer receive security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software that can steal your personal information.

If your organization has not started the migration to a modern desktop, you are late. Based on historical customer deployment data, the average enterprise deployment can take 18 to 32 months. If you haven’t already, you should begin migration planning and application testing immediately to ensure you deploy before end of support, and ensure you remain on supported versions of Windows and Office,.

A fun fact, did you know XP stands for Experience?

Upgrade Now


Managing Employee Payroll Deductions, Gift Cards, and Layaways with your POS system

Payroll deductions. Every company or institution that offers employee payroll deductions in their retail areas such as cafeteria, coffee bar, gift shop, or company store has nothing but good things to say about the impact on sales. It’s the enabler behind a $5.00 latte purchase the day before payday. The key is automating it, so as not to slow down customer traffic. Manual systems can be tough, requiring cashiers and volunteers to check a list to see if an employee is valid, and write up a slip for the employee to sign. Every two weeks the food services and store managers combines and totals the employee’s payroll slips, and then send them to payroll for payroll to enter manually, and then posts payments.

What can be available is automated imports of employee files from payroll (which can spot terminated staff as well) that then supports swiping the employee’s badge, letting the software check the employee’s balance against the credit limit.  Automatic printing of the customer AND the signature receipt may be turned on or off, according to preference. Just before payroll runs, employee numbers and deduction amounts are automatically transmitted to payroll.  And then, crème de la crème, the actual deductions taken come back automatically from payroll, and the balances are adjusted.

Departmental charges are also automated, allowing for accurate charge backs to the appropriate department, as are physicians’ charges. Statements can be printed, or sent to accounting for their departmental adjustments.

LAYAWAYS  What if your company or hospital doesn’t permit Payroll Deductions? How can you make an expensive item obtainable to an employee or customer who isn’t able to spend a large amount of money all at once? Layaways are experiencing a revival in many retail areas – Target and Wal-Mart are now advertising the availability of Layaways.

Your POS product may be able to provide this tool for you. It can allow you to attach a layaway to a customer number (your employee’s badge), and track the items, and the payments as they are made against the items on layaway. So stockroom space is tight? If you can print an open layaway inventory list at any time, so you can see what items are due for pick up, and bring them over from the warehouse!

GIFT CARDS  Gift cards have been well received and are a great way to keep money in the retail areas. These aren’t just presents for one employee to give to another; they have a couple of other great uses! A gift card can be given to a customer to offset a return – the retail manager doesn’t have to give back cash, or write out a credit slip when a pricey item is returned. She’s keeping the money in the store. One other elegant use for gift cards has been the sale of those cards to administration, for a handling fee, plus the card value, for service recovery and employee rewards.


Healthy Café Menu Choices and Measuring Their Sales Success

Café dining patrons have a growing expectation to find healthful food and beverage choices on the menu.  Whether managing diabetes or a heart condition through diet, or just being more conscientious of healthy eating practices, guests are now better informed about nutritional value and take into account how each meal or snack choice will fit into their overall nutritional goals.

As a result of this consumer awareness and growing demand, virtually every Café has a selection of healthy menu items in each service of their menu rotation.  These healthy choices don’t necessarily replace popular menu favorites like Chicken Fried Steak, Pizza, or Macaroni and Cheese, but instead provide a range of healthy alternatives to café guests.  Whether the guest selects a grilled chicken salad labeled as heart healthy, or decides to indulge in a grilled cheese sandwich with fries, the choice is left up to the guest.

So how do you measure the performance of healthy menu items, and determine which ones should remain in rotation, and which ones should be replaced with more appealing choices?  Although the long line out the door whenever the Sushi Chef prepares fresh California Rolls at lunchtime is the only clue you will need to measure the popularity of the Sushi Bar, other items will require a review of historical sales data to evaluate their performance.

To track healthy meal sales, all menu items within the inventory file of the Café’s POS System should be added to an appropriate department, and then sorted further into a sub department or sub category.  Label one of your sub departments “Healthy” to track healthy sales.  For example, an egg white omelet could be added to the breakfast department, then further sorted into the sub department of Healthy.  A turkey and vegetable wrap may be added to the lunch department, then added to the sub department Healthy.  As a result of this categorization, both the egg white omelet and the turkey wrap will appear in the “Healthy” sub department, which will make tracking and comparing their historical sales information an easy process.  Depending upon your POS system’s reporting abilities, an alternative approach is to create a Healthy Department, then create sub departments of breakfast, lunch, etc. and then create reports using the Healthy Department as a sorting method.  With either approach, sales history reporting is available to track the Café’s Healthy item sales.

Menu Items identified in historical sales reports as not selling well may either be replaced with other items , or could be discounted to increase interest and incent better sales performance.  The sale history data will show if the marketing is working on not working.

Tell us about the success of your Healthy menu selections, and what has helped promote their sales.


Physical Inventory Best Practices

Every retail operation is required to do physical inventory at least once a year. Many stores even elect to do physical inventory multiple times throughout the year, or count select departments or items on a regular basis. Whatever your timing may be, here are a few best practices to follow to help ensure success.

Although most stores have invested in POS inventory control software with physical inventory features and hardware scanning devices, the process still requires people to perform the counting of the on hand items. People perform their best when they understand why the task they are to perform is important. Be sure to explain to everyone who will be participating in physical inventory why having an accurate on hand count of each item is needed. It may also be most productive to divide the counting by departments, and assign individuals to specific departments to count. This enables the counting of multiple departments in parallel, and should help move the entire process along faster. Be sure to schedule the event well in advance so everyone is available for the big event.

Inventory represents a current asset the store expects to sell within one year, however the reasons for doing physical inventory are not limited to just tax or accounting purposes. An accurate on hand count ensures that buying decisions are based on accurate data. Wrong on hand quantities lead to misinformed buying decisions, which negatively impact your retail business. Order recommendations or buying reports can only be accurate if on hand quantities are correct and costly buying mistakes can be avoided. The goal of any retail operation is to strike an optimum balance of inventory so that excess dollars are not tied up unnecessarily, yet sales are not lost due to out of stock merchandise. Getting this balancing act correct certainly begins with an accurate count.

Retailers not only need to effectively manage their inventory, but also purchase inventory that will result in the greatest profitability for the store. It’s a highly recommended practice to perform counts of high volume and high value items on a regular basis. High volume items are particularly vulnerable to error due to the high number of transactions. It’s much easier to identify an inaccuracy in inventory if the discrepancy is caught within 30 or 60 days, rather than combing through months of data to reconcile an item which was last counted a year ago.

One final best practice is to run an inventory report before and after conducting inventory to get an accurate idea of the value of the inventory you were supposed to have vs. what you actually have.

For more information about using Inventory control software with a physical inventory feature, call us at 866-889-3093 or contact us  ARBA Retail Systems is a leading provider of POS Inventory Control solutions and is headquartered in Naperville, IL.


Mobile POS Usage in Hospital Retail Operations

As consumers, most of us have had some exposure to a mobile POS system while either shopping at a retail store or dining at a restaurant or quick serve establishment.  Many restaurant servers now come to the table equipped with a mobile or hand held device for order taking instead of the traditional order pad and pencil, with the completed table order automatically going to the kitchen, and the server quickly moving onto the next table.  In may retail stores, clerks now walk the sales floor with a mobile POS device for line busting to quickly check out customers standing in long lines and get them on their way faster.  This not only speeds check out time and increases customer satisfaction, but also reduces the potential for a lost sale.

Healthcare retail presents many opportunities where a Mobile POS solution can provide added convenience to employees and guests, expand the functionality already present in a traditional POS system, and greatly improve operational efficiency with cost saving results.

The Cafeteria and Coffee Cart

Take for example the hospital cafeteria with traditional POS terminals situated in the check-out lanes, and additional outdoor seating that opens when the weather permits.  Rather than routing patrons through the check-out lanes to pay for food and beverages before seating themselves outside, mobility allows the transaction to be performed at table side giving the employee or guest more time to enjoy their meal and dining experience or possibly prevent a lost sale from occurring.  With a traditional POS system in place, the cafeteria menu may be broadcasted to the mobile device with detailed sales data rolling into a central data base for reporting and informed decision making.  Mobile solutions are also ideally suited for mobile coffee carts, or mobile food carts where a POS system is needed, but space and portability rules out a large cash register with all its peripheral devices.

Patient Guest Services

A lot of hospitals now offer patient guests the convenience of ordering food and beverages from the cafeteria menu presented on an iPad or Android device, and paying by either by cash or credit card on the same device.  Just imaging visiting a friend or family member in their hospital room as patient dining is either taking or delivering their meal.  It’s a great comfort and convenience to be able to order and enjoy your meals together.

The Gift Shop and Fundraisers

Usually run by the hospital gift shop, fundraisers are a vital revenue generator for the hospital retail area.  Generally held in the hospital lobby, the fundraising event may sell anything from uniforms to jewelry and are usually geared to the hospital employees.  The use of a mobile pos system is ideal for this temporary event, especially when the capability to accept credit card or employee payroll deductions as payment types is enabled.

Tell us about how you’re using Mobil POS solutions in your hospital, or where your operation has a need for it.