Delivery drivers are supposed to carry as little cash as possible, and operators are supposed to set up policies to ensure drivers drop their cash after each run.
Problem is, said J.W. Callahan, president of the Association of Pizza Delivery Drivers, there are always a few drivers who don't follow the rules, and operators lack the time to track drivers' cash drops consistently. Sometimes the result is disaster, he said.
"I remember one driver who got robbed of more than $200 one night," said Callahan.
Though robberies are inevitable, Callahan said, those crimes shouldn't be profitable for thieves if proper cash management policies are followed.
Protecting and managing cash has become vastly easier with the development of high-tech safes.
Some Domino's franchisees have used bill-accepting safes for years.
"It makes it so much easier for safety issues, for controlling cash, for counting money at the end of the night, everything is better with this," said Freddie Wehbe, a four-store Domino's franchisee in Gainesville, Fla. "It's new technology that can't go wrong."
In a pizza operation, the safes essentially work like this: A driver returns from a run, enters his personal identification number at the safe, and feeds bills into the reader/acceptor to reduce his bank to $20. The machine then records that driver's deposit.
Should the driver's bank contain only two $20 bills, he could feed in both bills and request change be dispensed in smaller bills. Once his transactions are complete, he can print out a receipt, or wait until the end of his shift to print out a detailed report.
Counter workers also use the safe to reduce the amount of cash in the register drawers.
According to John Angove, vice president of Indianapolis-based safe-maker AT Systems, the only potential hang-up in the deposit process is bill rejection. But that happens less all the time because of improvements to validators.
Operators say the safes truly pay for themselves at the end of each shift, when drivers check out. Wehbe said being able to print out each employee's report and knowing exactly how much cash each should get saves his store managers at least 20 minutes per shift in money-counting time.
Callahan said such a safe would eliminate confusion and accusations of dishonesty that arise with the old envelope and drop-box system.
Room to grow
Both Wehbe and Nelson Hockert-Lotz, another Domino's franchisee who uses a bill-acceptor safe, called the $3,000 each spent on their safes a small investment for the return provided. Simplicity of operation and ease of mind for staff and management far outweigh the cost consideration, they said.\
Steve Aronson, director of marketing for New Albany, Ind.-based FKI Security Group, also pointed out that the technology has been tested and refined in the convenience store industry. FKI's safes can be polled remotely to allow cash accounting within a large multi-site system. That simplicity, plus the similarity to existing pizza industry technology, should encourage other pizza operators to follow suit.