Keep The Safe Safe: 4 steps to organize a retail or restaurant safe
Every business owner knows the importance of sweating the details.
From menu to floors, from tables to chairs, every aspect of a business has been carefully considered, selected, purchased, and placed. However, there is one element that is often forgotten: the backroom safe. An easy method for consistent maintenance of your safe is vital to any business.
We’ve assembled an easy-to-follow guide to help reduce clutter, buy the right supplies, and organize the contents of a safe. Even established business owners will see the benefits of an organized safe after following these steps.
Download this guide with bonus worksheets and get organized today!
Step One: Reduce Clutter in your Safe
We can’t all toss our gold coins into a giant vault like Scrooge McDuck. It’s easy to use a safe like a ‘junk drawer’ and fill it with unnecessary items. The simplest way to avoid this is to stay vigilant on what kinds of items are being stored in the safe. Removing non-essential items and preventing the use of the safe as a catch-all storage will go a long way to increasing safe efficiency and make it easier to identify abnormal behavior surrounding the safe.
Start here: Remove these unnecessary items
- Anything that isn’t cash. If it’s not something that is counted or deposited, don’t keep it in your safe. Anything of value that isn’t money shouldn’t be kept in the safe.
- Lost credit cards. Often, customers will simply cancel a lost card rather than try to recover it. Lost credit cards that have been in the safe for over 24 hours should be shredded and disposed of.
- Lost IDs. Customers who have lost IDs, like driver’s licenses, may attempt a recovery; but these should be treated like credit cards with the same 24 hour policy. IDs can also be dropped off at a post office or police station for return to the customer.
- Keys. Keys should remain with trusted employee key holders, or in a separate lock box, not in the safe. Removing keys from a safe will eliminate a reason to go into the safe. The less reasons one has for accessing the safe, the easier it is to spot abnormal access.
- Cell phones. Phones are not the easy targets for theft that many think they are. A stolen phone has many countermeasures in place to prevent resale, and the hassle just isn’t worth it. So there’s really no good reason to hide a phone in the safe–imagine how much more tempting the cash in the safe will be even if they originally broke in to steal the phone!
Employee theft is a major issue that often involves safes, though it is such a sensitive subject that it goes unaddressed. Having a clear, easy-to-understand employee theft policy makes it simple to address issues before they arise. Check here to discover how to build an employee theft policy that works.
Step Two: Buy the right tools for your safe
Feel Safe With The Right Safe.Every business owner, should invest in a double door safe. Double door safes divide into two sections, top and bottom, and make organizing the contents even easier. These are available in a variety of sizes and price points, from floor-mounted cubes to full-sized estate safes.
Think Visual With Coin Trays.Coin trays are vital for quickly and easily identifying the amount of loose coins available in the safe. Purchase one tray for each type of coin and keep them full at all times. That way, there is never any risk of miscounting the amount of change on hand. A coin tray for dimes, for example, will contain $50 worth of dimes when completely full.
Harness The Power Of Magnets.Since safes are usually made of metal, they provide a free extra surface on the inside of the door. Purchase a few magnetic money clips and affix bundles of bills to the inside of the safe door. These can be easily grabbed to replenish tills during business hours.
Ready to spring clean that safe? Download this handy guide with bonus shopping list!
Step Three: Organize your safe
A double door safe is already separated into two tiers, allowing for a separation of the two funds inside. Keep the cash fund on top and register fund on the bottom. This way, there should be no reason for an employee to need access to the bottom shelf during the work day. Anyone who is seen accessing the bottom shelf should be a red flag.
- Cash fund. The top shelf of the safe should be reserved for the cash fund. A cash fund is a consistent amount of cash that is used to replenish the register tills at the end of every business day. Decide on an amount that makes sense for the average size of transactions conducted by the business. Choose a nice, round number to make the count easier. Use coin trays and rubber bands to keep cash organized.
- Register Fund. These are where the tills from the registers will live after business hours. Again, choose round numbers of cash to make the count easy and efficient. Once the register funds are removed at the beginning of the day, the bottom shelf should be kept locked until closing.
The easiest way to keep these organized is to establish a routine.
Make sure this system is easily explained to managers and is followed to the letter. Keeping a close eye on the routine of the safe will make abnormalities easier to spot.
- Balance Register Tills. At end of every work day, tills will need to be balanced back to their preset amounts. Be sure the sales floor is empty, the doors are locked, and the lights are off. This is to prevent anyone from wandering in during the count. Consider splitting this task in two: one employee counts the register cash, the other balances it. This will create an extra link in the accountability chain.
- Set Up Cash Rounds. Using those magnetic bill clips, affix predetermined amounts of bills to the inside of the safe door. Use these for quick replenishment of the tills during the business day. These should be replenished each day as well.
- Fill Out The Safe Log. Keeping a safe log can be very helpful in keeping track of the safe’s contents over the course of the day, week, or longer. We’ve including a printable PDF template for creating your own in Step Four.
Here’s an example: a cash fund has been allocated for $1400.00. This is located in the top section of the safe. The bottom part of the safe is the home of the register tills that have been balanced to predetermined amounts, such as:
- 4 register tills, each containing $100.00
- A 5th register till containing $200.00 from the drive-through.
The register funds total $600, and the cash fund is $1400. This brings the total amount of cash in the safe to $2000.00.
Step Four: Create a safe log
Identify abnormal behavior. This is an easy-to-use sheet, kept on the top of the safe, that is updated three times daily. Use the log to easily identify inconsistencies in the safe fund. At the beginning, middle, and end of the day the log is updated with the amounts in the cash and register funds.
The log should be the only thing resting on the top of the safe.This is to ensure that the security camera assigned to the safe has a clear, unimpeded view at all times.
Don’t waste time reproducing this log, we’ve created a 31-day template just for you!
In this example, no one verified the safe funds on January 2nd and a manager named “Herb” is associated with a safe variance of $50 on January 5th. Using the log makes it easy to identify what specific day, and which specific associate, needs to be reviewed. The log creates clear lines of accountability.
A manager who does not bother to sign off on the log, or who does not properly prepare the safe for the next day, may be simply negligent or may be deliberately sowing confusion to cover up theft.
Consistency is key!
An organized, well-maintained safe supported by a consistent plan and tracked by an updated log will solve a myriad of issues business owners may not be aware they have. Combining this with Solink will allow for easy verification of inconsistencies in the count, who had access to the safe and for how long, and any other abnormal behavior that may arise.
Create the right solution for your business
By following these steps, the owner of any size business will be able to tidy up, monitor, and maintain a workable safe, ensuring the smooth operation of their business. Remember, any plan enacted based on the suggestions provided above is only part of a complete loss prevention. Solink makes it simple to keep a close eye on specific areas of your business, find out more by booking a demo today!