State-of-the-art security systems linked to your POS system save you hours of trying to match footage with suspect transactions
When you talk about security, it’s easy to assume you’re talking about grainy camera footage of violent thugs. The more mundane aspects of security—staff offering freebies to friends, perhaps, or a till that doesn’t seem to reconcile—aren’t the first things that come to mind. But it’s precisely those mundane things that present the greatest present security threat to most restaurants. And the awareness of that has driven innovations in the security packages of point-of-sale systems. “What’s typical is that clients look at the other POS companies and say, do you have a security interface—yes or no?” says Alex Cooke of Fedelta POS. “But what’s important is how your security system works with your other processes.”
That’s the key to getting a useful security system—one that integrates with other systems, rather than just providing a mute record of hours of footage—involves linking vision to transactions and individuals.
That approach is “extremely new”, says Burt Admiraal of H&L Australia. “It’s just starting to happen in restaurants now. Restaurants haven’t had as much focus on stock security. Instead, there’s always a focus on front-of-house—on the desire to just ensure that everything’s going through to the kitchen.”
As a hospitality professional back in the 1980s, Admiraal created the H&L system to better control profits and reduce theft and wastage in the restaurant and bars he was responsible for managing. And many years of speaking to other restaurateurs reinforced for him the knowledge that their primary focus is almost always on point-of-sale, printing and table-tracking. As a result, he says, “All of our systems are built around the control of stock and labour.”
And security is an extension of that. By integrating transactions, stock and labour, what you’re doing is buying yourself time and control. “One of our clients who has recently retired from the restaurant business had a restaurant here in Adelaide for 30 years. He found that when he put our system in he was working one day a week less—so working five days a week—and keeping the restaurant open one day a week more. Prior to then, he felt uncomfortable with the controls in the venue. When he got the system in place, he found he had better control.”
“We find restaurateurs are embracing this more and more,” says Cooke. “Mainly because this technology saves you time. There are lots of things that are nice to have, but the valuable things are those that save you time. This is like a dashboard for the organisation.”
According to Cooke, apart from the immediate and obvious deterrent aspect of security, it’s really about finding out where something has gone wrong. “There’s the cameras and the deterrent aspect of it, but the other side is the ability to track things,” he says.
“What happens is we try to take a tight control over various processes, so you can really track down what went wrong. If you don’t have a good cash management process that allows you to see who was involved in the transaction, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
“If you have a suspect item you just right click and it brings back the camera footage associated with that transaction.” Burt Admiraal, H&L Australia
One aspect of the Fedelta system that assists with this is making balancing blind, so all the staff can do at any given till is count the notes—it becomes quite easy to know quickly if a till has come up short.
“If you don’t have a system that tells you if you’re short straight away, you end up with people that have this suspicion, but it’s difficult to prove anything,” says Cooke. “It’s about using the full capabilities of the system. The other element is stock. By being able to see who sold what, you can view the appropriate footage for that transaction. Or you can track it by saying, we want to see Bill and John and this item.”
The Fedelta system allows you to search security footage in snippets, based on names or transactions, rather than trawling through all the footage. H&L has a similar system: “We have integrated into the system some key options, one linking transactions to camera footage,” says Admiraal. “We use a 360-degree parabolic camera, and it gives you the opportunity to see transactions being rung up. What’s the key to the system, is when you go back through an audit trail, if you have a suspect item you just right-click and it brings back the camera footage associated with that transaction.”
Both systems also use proximity wristbands for a further level of security. “In restaurants, pin numbers are popular, but it’s easy for someone to look over your shoulder and see what your pin is while you’re entering it,” says Cooke. “With proximity wristbands, no-one can mimic another staff member. It’s based on radio frequency. When staff come within 15 cm of the screen it logs them in.” Cooke adds that the Fedelta system also protects against problems of unauthorised discounting, or removing items from a bill. “With those things, we can put limits in the system, so we can say, for example, that the maximum value of stock you can give away is, say, $100. If you want to have the proof that somebody has been in the system, it’s there.”