Pub Landlord Advice - Cash Handling

Cash Handling

The pub trade is a cash rich industry. Efficient and secure cash handling methods will reduce the risks you face. Cash handling is essentially about self-discipline and control.

Cash Handling Routines

You should employ a uniform process for handling, counting and recording your cash, with the exception being the time and route you take when transporting your cash to the bank.

  1. If possible, cash up the till(s) in your office/accommodation and not at the bar.
  2. Always use a cashing up sheet and sales record sheet.
  3. Never z the till(s) until after you have performed an x report.*
  4. If possible cash the till(s) whilst your staff are on site, they can answer any questions you might have there and then; they are more likely to remember something that has happened that day/shift than the next time they are on duty.

* ( A z report resets the till to zero for the next session, an x report is an interim report that totals up the till to the point the x reading is taken.Should the printable till roll jam or run out of paper during the printing of the z report, you will have no record of sales etc. By taking an x report prior to the z report you still have a paper record of the final totals.)

Controlling Cash

The first cash control is balancing the cash you hold in your pub safe every day. Balancing your safe float will tell you the exact amount of cash you are holding and, more importantly, what you have recorded as holding is actually what your are holding.

The second control point is continuity of floats, both in till(s) and in the safe. Most pubs keep a large change float in the safe and keep it at a constant amount, this is recorded in addition to till floats held. In most pubs I have run the safe float would be increased for the weekend and for bank holidays, when getting extra change for the business can be problematic.

Whether you keep your float constant or increase it either regularly or occasionally, it is important to record the float and minimise the float to what is required for the business at any time.

Control points remove any element of doubt you might have should a discrepancy occur whilst cashing up tills or balancing the safe.

Cash Holding Limits

The Business As A Whole

You should never have more cash on the premises than your insurance policy covers and you should never take more cash to the bank than you are covered for by your insurer’s “cash it transit limits” (if necessary make two trips to the bank). Check what limits your insurance policy covers: in the safe, out of the safe (for instance in tills, games machines) and in transit to and from the bank. In my experience, it is better to have a “seasonal” allowance of up to 50% in place with your insurer to cover busy periods such as weekends or bank holiday weekends such as Easter when the banks are closed for several days.


At busy times I recommend higher value notes are removed from your till(s) and stored in clearly marked cash bag(s) within the safe on a regular basis. They can be included in the “take” at cashing up time. Keeping the cash held in till(s) to a minimum can help reduce the risk of theft and stop notes sliding behind the cash draw in the till.

(At the end of the business day the cash trays should be removed from the tills and the draws left open; anyone looking in will then see there is no cash in the tills and will be less inclined break in. Some pubs, particularly in high risk locations also empty the hoppers in games machines and ATMs).

Cashing Up Tills

Cashing up is a simple process provided one follows a few simple rules:

  • Always pull out the entire cash drawer and check no bank notes or credit/debit card slips have found their way to the back of the till
  • Always cash each till individually if you have more than one
  • Count all notes and coins and record them on a cash sheet
  • Invest in a cash counting machine; they save a lot of time (see my separate article on Cash Counting Machines)
  • Record all credit and debit card sales on your cashing up sheet and check them against the printed reconciliation report form your credit/debit card processing machine
  • Total up all the amounts, deduct the float amount and then check the net amount against your till report(s).
  • Record any variance, it is as bad to be “over” as it is to be “under”


Top Tips For Handling Cash

Check to see if you have entered any figures in with the digits the wrong way around. ¬†One of my first stock-takers taught me this “trick” … divide any discrepancy by 9. If the discrepancy is divisible by 9 there is a significant chance you have recorded transposed one or more digits. (For example you enter 36 instead of 63 this would make you 27 short which divides by nine exactly 3 times). If the difference is divisible by nine (or a multiple of nine) recheck the entries you have made on the cashing up sheet.

Check all amounts paid out, as recorded by the till and any hand written notes in the till regarding money removed from the till.

Don’t get into the habit of helping yourself to cash from the till(s) (or the safe) in an ad hoc fashion it will more often than not, lead to discrepancies.

Keep a lockable petty cash tin behind the bar for cash purchases, keep it balanced and replenished from the safe and keep it in the safe out of business hours.

And finally, if you are “held up” either in the pub or whilst on the way to the bank …

GIVE THEM THE MONEY… no ifs, no buts, no heroics…

The money’s insured and not worth suffering injury (or worse) for.

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