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  • Cash drawer reconciliation

    Hi - I'm just trying to get a sense about cash drawer policies, specifically with regard to whether any discrepancies are tolerated with reconciliation ("balancing"), and how much. Does the drawer always have to balance "to the penny" or not?

    In replying I don't need or want you to mention which company you work for. Just getting a feel for the range of practices when it comes to cash drawer discrepancies.

    Thanks!
    "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

    "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

    "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

    "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

  • #2
    Typically from my experience, all overages and shortages are documented by loss prevention. There's never a policy regarding what dollar amount becomes investigated, but I know from experience that the ones that are investigated would often be part of a trend from one cashier. Alternatively, you complete random audits to keep them on their toes.

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    • #3
      I work LP for a clothing store. The drawers are "community drawers", where multiple associates throughout the day ring on one drawer. We have a cash tracking program that documents all loss to the penny. I personally look for overages in small amounts (less than $0.99) or shortages over $15 to find apattern.The program tells us the associate number and ranks the number from most likely to least likely.

      When I was a cashier at a grocery store (Food Lion) in high school, we would get a write up if the drawer didn't balance +or-$5. Three write ups and you were moved off the cash drawer.

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      • #4
        For the most part retailers are on the "community till" system as capurato mentioned. One retailer I currently consult with has a very strong policy of individual cash drawers. The cashier starts with a set cash drawer and it's theirs for the duration of their shift. If they move to a different register their drawer goes with them. Strict adherence to employee passwords. If at the end of their workday their cash drawer is - or + $2.00 they are written up and after three write ups their employment is terminated.

        I wrote the cash handling policy for this company and my first draft was not strong enough for them; they wanted it stronger. I told them the potential turnover in cashiers could be detrimental to their business. Their response? We'll live with it.
        Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
        Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

        Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
          For the most part retailers are on the "community till" system as capurato mentioned. One retailer I currently consult with has a very strong policy of individual cash drawers. The cashier starts with a set cash drawer and it's theirs for the duration of their shift. If they move to a different register their drawer goes with them. Strict adherence to employee passwords. If at the end of their workday their cash drawer is - or + $2.00 they are written up and after three write ups their employment is terminated.

          I wrote the cash handling policy for this company and my first draft was not strong enough for them; they wanted it stronger. I told them the potential turnover in cashiers could be detrimental to their business. Their response? We'll live with it.
          Harsh. They just reassigned cashiers.

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          • #6
            Their point is - we hired you as a cashier, we need a cashier. They actually have very little turnover in cashiers. They pay very well for that position.
            Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
            Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

            Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
              Their point is - we hired you as a cashier, we need a cashier. They actually have very little turnover in cashiers. They pay very well for that position.
              I understand, but sometimes people are hired into spots that they aren't suited for. Also what do they do for backup cashiers when the lines get long? And does this apply to mgrs and supervisors as well. It is an interesting and hard nosed policy.

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              • #8
                The store is in a position to hire the area's best cashiers. I am sure that word is out about Curtis' client, that they pay higher then average and have low turnover. That means the casher's are happy and when an opening does come up, they are able to select the cream of the crop from the area's employee pool for cashers.
                "Let Justice Be Done, Though Heaven Should Fall" - Camp Sather, BIAP, Iraq
                "This We Do...So That Others May Live"
                "Glaine ár gcroí, Neart ár ngéag, Agus beart de réir ár mbriathar" - Irish Army Ranger Wing

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                • #9
                  Each cashier is responsible for their own drawer and register. They count out in the morning and at the end of their shift. Small discrepancies are, for the most part, ignored. Five dollars under/over gets looked into and ten dollars gets them written up. Three write-ups and they are toast.

                  We cross train our staff so almost everyone can ring. Again, they are assigned their own register and are responsible for it. If more than two customers are backed up, a cashier will page for assistance.

                  Roscoe

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Roscoe View Post
                    Each cashier is responsible for their own drawer and register. They count out in the morning and at the end of their shift. Small discrepancies are, for the most part, ignored. Five dollars under/over gets looked into and ten dollars gets them written up. Three write-ups and they are toast.

                    We cross train our staff so almost everyone can ring. Again, they are assigned their own register and are responsible for it. If more than two customers are backed up, a cashier will page for assistance.

                    Roscoe
                    You may already be doing this, but I would track all shortages. I can't count how many thieves I've caught by tracking even the smallest shortages. You might be surprised how many would only take a small amount to pay for sodas and the like. They thought they were flying under the radar....not.
                    Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                    Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                    Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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                    • #11
                      Curtis,
                      Thanks for the reply. If a cashier was coming up short consistently, no matter what the amount, I certainly would keep an eye on them.

                      Also, I have a camera above each workstation and can go back three months.

                      Roscoe

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                      • #12
                        I guess we're a bit of a combination. Community drawer but with a max of 3 people allowed on it in a given day, including managers. Registers are assigned in the morning by management. We have a lot more registers in the building than we need, so that helps. Only around Christmas does it become a problem, at which point we maintain the 3 person rule but if we need to add a fourth, we'll count the drawer down and "reset" it.

                        As for tracking variances -- store is required to notify LP of any variance over or under $9.99, and it may or may not be investigated depending on manpower, camera coverage, and that sort of thing.

                        Ideally every variance would be reviewed, and I'd review the entire shift from open til close. It knocks out a lot of birds with one stone -- you may find dishonesty through the variance, you may find it through passouts, you may find operational errors, or you may just find alerts.

                        But it's very labor intensive... even at 2x speed an 8 hour shift takes 4 hours to watch, so it doesn't happen as often as it should. Especially in a situation where I'm the only LP for an entire market, I just don't have the time.

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                        • #13
                          Why not a to-the-penny audit? What's this stuff about + or - $5?

                          Is accounting becoming more lax? Maybe because individual accountability is too lax.
                          I tried being reasonable, I didn't like it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LARMGUY View Post
                            Why not a to-the-penny audit? What's this stuff about + or - $5?

                            Is accounting becoming more lax? Maybe because individual accountability is too lax.
                            Larmguy:

                            Every standard, whether it's in manufacturing, materials, employee performance, etc. carries with it both direct and indirect costs, and generally speaking the tighter the standard the higher the cost.

                            In this case, "zero-tolerance" for human error (as you're suggesting for drawer audits) carries with it a potential cost in the form of low employee morale and high turnover. There is also a cost associated with implementing employee disciplinary actions.

                            Of course, one would expect that human error - if that's what it is - would be random. Drawer discrepancies would cut both ways, meaning there would be days when the drawer was a little over, days when it balanced "to the penny" and days when it was a little under.

                            On the other hand, a systematic pattern of "short" drawers would be a very different thing. In that case, although an employee might not be disciplined for one or two "short" drawers, it's not that no one has noticed that the drawer didn't balance. Even a pattern of "overages" would be different, raising the concern about customers being shortchanged, goodwill for the store, etc.

                            A drawer "audit" is always to-the-penny. That's not the question. The question I am asking is how discrepancies - which are virtually unavoidable - are handled and how much tolerance is exercised. A pattern is different from incidental and obviously random drawer discrepancies.

                            You can take a mechanical drawing of your widget into the machine shop and demand that it be manufactured to a tolerance of any decimal point that strikes your fancy - 0.001" or 0.0000001". But be aware that your insistence on tolerances that are closer than they need to be will carry increased cost for your widget. Different machinery, different machinist skills, different inspection procedures, more rejects and reworks, etc. will drive up the cost of your widget beyond reason. You'd be well advised not to insist on tolerances that add nothing to the value or usefulness of your widget.
                            "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                            "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                            "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                            "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LARMGUY View Post
                              Why not a to-the-penny audit? What's this stuff about + or - $5?

                              Is accounting becoming more lax? Maybe because individual accountability is too lax.
                              The audit we're talking about completing involves watching the cashiers entire shift comparing every item the cashier rang up to the item in the customers hand. It takes a long ass time -- for a given cashier's 8 hour shift, even if I watch at 2x speed (and risk missing stuff!) it would take FOUR HOURS to review one register for one day. That's half a days productivity tracking down what is, in probably 99% of the instances, just a cashier being stupid or a customer saying "just keep the nickel.."

                              And its not like the video is in HD either, so ya gotta stop and rewind and squint...

                              In other words, the juice isn't worth the squeeze, unless we have a reason to think it is. We track them, though -- they all get logged. If one person has a few too many we'll have management write 'em up. This lets them know we're watching, cut that **** out. Then if it continues, or starts again a month later, somethings likely up and we'll check it out.

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