20 Cash Handling Best Practices Your Business Should Follow


20 Cash Handling Best Practices Your Business Should Follow

Small businesses that deal in cash like food trucks and salons need to protect themselves against errors involving cash and theft. Here’s 20 cash handling best practices your business should follow so everything runs smoothly.

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Cash Handling Best Practices

Eliminate Slush Funds

Cashiers in small retail stores are often expected to make up for shortages from their own pockets. This can lead to an employee slush fund to pool resources. It’s generally a bad idea that can hide the real reason the drawer goes short. If you use one of these, get rid of it.

Be Strict About Differences

A few dollars short here and there might not seem like a big deal at first in a small diner  that has a good lunch crowd. However, ignore discrepancies and you might be glossing over a bigger issue. Recording all losses and overages helps to uncover anything deliberate.



Standardize a Process

Everyone needs to be on the same page when staff is handling cash on your small fleet of food trucks. Putting together a one-size-fits-all set of rules takes the guesswork out of handling cash for employees that work autonomously.   

Know the IRS Obligations

You need to know what the government expects as far as cash transactions go.  There’s no way around performing your due diligence. For example, large cash payments over $10,000 need to be handled a certain way. If you’re in doubt, check with the IRS or your accountant.

Have a Petty Cash Account

Having some petty cash on hand to make change for customers in your laundromat makes for a great competitive advantage. Opening a business checking account to fund one keeps your bookkeeping above board.

Issue Invoices

It’s not a problem when regular clients want to pay in cash at your nail salon. You only need to issue them an invoice.

Don’t Mix Up Accounts

All the cash your business handles needs be recorded and stored separately and proper bookkeeping procedures need to be followed. For example, never take some customer cash payments to replenish petty cash.

Have a Schedule for Handling Cash

If you run a small retail outlet in the local mall, your days might be hectic. Depositing, counting and balancing your cash should follow a strict schedule. Work that routine around your busy times of day.

Have Upper Limits

Avoiding theft and lost monies is also about keeping a limit on how much you keep in the registers and on hand. Keeping this simple means having an upper ceiling on how much you have on site. 

Invest in Cash Technology

Smart safes make the job of handling cash more efficient. These track cash transactions and can even schedule pickups.  Counterfeit detection technology is another must have for cash businesses like smaller restaurants.

Limit the Employees Who Handle Cash

Effective cash management starts with assigning the responsibilities to supervisors. They should be responsible for reviewing transactions and other duties like recording receipts.

Don’t Share Cash Drawers

Mistakes happen in restaurants and retail stores  when people share a common cash drawer. It might be convenient in a restaurant to have a waiter cover someone who is on break, but there’s a lack of accountability there. Everyone should have their own assigned  cash drawer.

Don’t Round Numbers Off

It’s called dollars and cents for a reason. David S. Peters is an expert on the subject in the restaurant world. He says rounding off the nightly deposit by leaving coins out can only lead to accounting headaches down the road. Don’t try and save time by avoiding loose change.  

Use Accounting Technology

Using the latest technology can help you manage the cash for your hardware store.  Don’t assume the big names in accounting software only cater to the big box stores in your field. For example, QuickBooks makes setting up a petty cash account easy.

Tweak the Process Continually

You should always have an eye to improving your cash handling systems. That includes changing the responsibilities you assign to employees as you see fit.

Concentrate on Counting

You might even be a sole proprietor on a busy food truck. If you’re handling cash transactions, you need to concentrate. If you get interrupted, always start over again from the beginning when counting.

Always be Consistent

When you‘re counting the money yourself, you need to do it the same way everytime to avoid mistakes. Coins first and then bills going from lowest to highest denominations is one template.

Use a Deposit Template

Texas A&M University suggests a best practice for preparing a cash deposit. Only one currency per bundle with all the bills facing up. Don’t use paperclips. A rubber band is the best way to hold bills together.

Keep Duties Separate

Checks and balances are important when your small business is handling lots of cash. The people who handle the money should be different than those responsible for book keeping.

Count in Private

Security is always a number one concern for a small business that owns vending machines. Only count money when you’re away from the public or employees. If you store your cash in a safe, change the combination regularly.

Cash Register Photo via Shutterstock

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Rob Starr


Rob Starr Rob Starr is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

3 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    I agree about the petty cash account. It can also help you in those extra expenses for your employees.

  2. It is important to always consider your expenses and design your financial practices according to that.

  3. Yes. The problem with some businesses is that they can be very transparent to their employees causing disputes and others.

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