Smart safes are a tool restaurants can't afford to be without.

Sponsored by Loomis.

Working with large amounts of cash always comes with risks, but in the hospitality industry, the risks are greater. With so many employees handling money, counting errors and theft can cause large shortages, while the danger of robberies increases risks. And the more times employees have to touch cash, the more room there is for losses, especially when they make deposits for the business.

“Having employees leave the restaurant with cash in their possession, puts the safety and security of employees and cash at risk,” says Ragan Cain, vice president and treasurer at Tacala, a franchise operator for Taco Bell. “Manual cash handling also increases the potential of theft, whether it’s employee theft or susceptibility to robberies. These are often inside jobs anyway because employees know what kind of cash you have in the store and tell friends who might participate in those kinds of activities.”

But safety risks are not the only problem with manual cash handling; it can also cause operational inefficiencies. Asking employees to count cash at the end of their shifts costs payroll that could be better spent on guest service, while managers doing the same could better spend their time on leading the team.

“Because quick-service restaurants often have high turnover, personnel changes can cause inconsistencies in cash counting and handling, and training can be difficult to manage,” says Moises Gonzalez, vice president of product development for SafePoint by Loomis. “When you have a manual process in place, you are dealing with the human element, and you are taking time and labor away from things you can’t automate, like customer service and operations you can’t outsource. Instead of helping the restaurant, you spend so much time counting, driving to the bank, and recounting and reconciling.”

To reduce risk and eliminate some of the workload, many restaurants use armored car services for deposits and cash delivery. But brands that stop streamlining processes there could be losing out on even more savings. Smart safe solutions, like Loomis’ SafePoint Titan, offer additional safety and security and greatly reduce the amount of payroll that must be spent on cash processing.

SafePoint Titan technology allows restaurants to deposit money directly into the safe for counting and storage. Once deposited, it is securely stored until the armored car service picks it up for transport to the bank. This eliminates the need for employees and managers to manually count cash and reconcile their totals. This also improves security by removing touch points and ensuring managers and operators don’t have to leave the property with money.

“It keeps our employees in the stores and allows them to feel safer,” Cain says. “It gets cash into a safe place immediately and keeps it safe until the armored car arrives to pick it up, which could be up to a week later.”

Because SafePoint Titan technology keeps track of deposits, restaurants are able to leverage the data Loomis collects to optimize pickup schedules. This data allows them to assess when pickups are needed, so many restaurants are able to reduce the number of cash pickups and deposits each week, saving them money on armored car services and bank fees. Cain notes that Tacala also cut back on labor expenses while maximizing managers’ time.

“With SafePoint, we no longer had to allow for cash counting and deposits in our management schedules,” Cain says. “Before, managers sometimes had to drive up to an hour to deposit cash, depending on traffic and where bank branches were located. This was not only unsafe, but it also reduced the time managers had to spend leading the restaurants.”

Smart safes offer a large return on investment, too. Not only do managers have more time, but overall financials improve once they are installed.

“Since we began using Safepoint, our cash losses have gone down dramatically,” says Cain. “Also, accuracy increased, our employees feel safer, and we’ve had fewer attempted robberies because the word gets out that our security is better. We’ve also saved many hours per week in labor at each store.”

Additionally, Cain says the system improved cash shortages helping Tacala’s monthly profit and loss statements. This is due to Loomis’ same-day credit for smart safe deposits. Funds deposited in the SafePoint smart safe are guaranteed and provisionally credited to the client’s account.

“In the first generation of smart safes, money wasn’t added to your bank account right away, but Loomis giving us credit the day money is filtered into safe systems was a game changer for us.”

Though some restaurants have been slow to adopt smart safe technology because of the price tag, they can earn large returns on investment quickly. Cain says most brands can’t afford to keep holding out.

“I think the price tag scares some people, but if they really do the math around cash and labor savings, not to mention the safety and security of employees and cash—which you can’t put a price tag on—it will pay for itself over time,” she says.

It is also important to choose the right vendor, as not all safe solutions are created equally. Tacala used several different vendors over time, but it was Loomis that provided the best fit for the business.

“The vendor you choose is so important, because the way they support your stores when there are issues, whether with equipment or cash pickups, is critical,” Cain says. “I know what matters because I’ve seen what worked when it did and when it didn’t. We went with Loomis because of service and support.”

Loomis uses an in-house IT team that is dedicated entirely to helping SafePoint customers. Because these employees are only working on this one line of service, Gonzalez says this lets them become subject matter experts.

“This gives our customers and us the ability to have dedicated attention and focus, and it’s helping us scale and grow in our space,” he says. “Instead of using our employee resources to do more, we limit them to this one role because we believe that the customer service experience has to come first.”

This attention to detail pays off for customers. Cain says that her experiences with dedicated SafePoint support have been hugely beneficial to her business.

“We have had very few, but there were a couple of unfortunate situations in which safes were damaged during attempted robberies, and I stress attempted,” she says. “Because the safes wouldn’t open, we didn’t lose cash; but we were stuck without a way to keep money safe due to damage. Loomis made good on its commitment to us and made sure we were taken care of, and that happens very infrequently with third party vendors. We’ve been very pleased with the Loomis relationship.”

Cash handling is a vital part of the restaurant business, and when stores rely on manual processes, they open themselves up to risks. Smart safes can not only improve the safety and security of employees and cash, they can also reduce operational costs and improve organizational efficiency.

“If you aren’t using a SafePoint product or a vendor like Loomis, you are leaving a lot of money on the table,” Cain says. “From reducing cash losses and employee labor expenses to making the use of resources more effective, it’s a proven solution that really works. We’ve been using it for more than four years now, and I can’t imagine our cash life without it.”

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