Shop Talk: Practical answers for tough business questions

by : 
Kim Perkins
May 1, 2011

Question: I’m getting ready to open my store in September with two employees and myself working it. In a small store, is it necessary to have policies about handling cash? Am I being paranoid to think I might get ripped off?

Answer: No store is too small to have a cash handling procedure. And if you put a few simple steps in place, your worries about possible losses will lessen. Most employees are honest and want to do the right thing, so having cash handling procedures in place can alleviate any temptation and make a statement that you are aware and diligent.

Most cash handling procedures are twofold: One set is for cash handling on the sales floor, such as stating the sales prices to the customer, stating the size of the bill received (e.g., “Your total is $37.34 out of $50”), removing the change before the bill is placed into the drawer to avoid any confusion about what size bill the customer offered, counting the change back aloud, giving a receipt to every customer to be sure they are all rung up, and balancing the drawer every day by counting start-up and day-end cash.

The second set of procedures has to do with safe cash handling at closing. When the last customer leaves, make sure all doors are locked. Have two people count and verify the cash to be deposited. Depending on your location, use common sense safety procedures for getting the deposit to the bank. Be discreet about carrying the deposit. Is it safe to do a night drop? If not, make arrangements for that to happen the following day.

Kim Perkins is co-owner of Elysian Fields Books & Gifts for Conscious Living (, an award-winning store in Sarasota, Fla. Send your retail questions to