Running a restaurant is a serious business. It operates on a cut-throat margin, and the increased competition and rising expenses significantly affect a restaurant’s profitability. Thus, it’s not a surprise that restaurant owners are resorting to new business models to increase customer flow and provide quality dining experience as possible. One example is running a fast-casual restaurant franchise to explore dining opportunities using a unique franchise model.
But among the challenges of running a restaurant is dealing with dine-and-dashers. Dine and dash is a form of thievery where customers get away by dining at a restaurant without paying for their meals. Restaurant walkouts are among the worst situations to happen to restaurant staff. Some of the most outrageous cases have made the news, and affected businesses are forced to shut down.
Restaurant owners already have many things on their plate, but worrying about losses because of dine and dash will make the business even more challenging to run. In this article, we’ll talk about dealing with dine-and-dash customers and how to prevent restaurant walkouts.
Determine criminal motives
There are two major reasons dine and dash happens. It can be a form of inadvertent crime, intentional crime, or a crime of passion. Customers who are brave enough to dine without paying do it with a detailed plan. For instance, they bring something as a form of decoy, such as a burner phone or thrift-store jacket. They fake their trip to their car or bathroom while leaving their belongings behind to make you believe they will come back.
Another example is when a guest originally plans to pay for a meal but eventually causes a commotion because of poor dining experience. They will use this reason to walk out without paying for their order. There’s also the occasional and purely innocent walkout, where guests get confused or distracted about which of their companions will pay for the food. In the end, they end up confusing the staff and walking out without paying for the meal. But regardless of the customer’s motives, any form of restaurant walkout is still a form of crime.
Establish a smart floor plan
The restaurant’s appearance plays an important role in its overall appeal and atmosphere. In this case, the layout helps strengthen the security of the establishment to ensure no one will leave the door without paying.
The first strategy is to install the entry door as far as possible from the dining area. For example, the entrance should have a huge lobby with a dessert counter and seating. The customer has to walk along this area before reaching the restroom and tables. This way, the physical distance will prevent the customer from escaping quickly from the restaurant. Another technique is to assign a point person near the door. Their presence will easily discourage anyone who plans to skip the bill.
You may also consider using cash flow management software to find out which diners haven’t paid yet. So, if a diner tries to walk out, the staff can easily intercept them. Other restaurants implement a pre-payment system, where a customer has to pay for the food before serving it to them. Counter services reduce the risk of restaurant walkouts, but this approach may not always work for most food establishments. This applies to fast food, assembly-line restaurants, or other ways to serve meals quickly.
Traditional restaurants may still implement counter service with the right planning. For instance, a casual eatery may distribute table numbers to diners and serve meals once they’re ready.
Install a security system
A strong security system is still the best way to reduce the chances of restaurant walkouts or any form of crime. When a customer plans to walk out but discovers a camera monitoring their every move, they will probably feel hesitant to do the act. Even when the patron leaves without paying, you can submit the footage to the proper authorities to identify and arrest the thief.
Today, a variety of smart security tools are available for business establishments. Each tool comes with a unique set of features to monitor suspicious activities within the premises.
Dine and dash is a costly problem that will severely affect the cash flow of your business when left unchecked. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to reduce the chances of becoming a victim. With the right tools and security practices, your staff can avoid any form of financial loss in your business. So, make sure to follow our suggestions above and ensure stress-free restaurant operations.