Cash management systems can help businesses increase security, ease labor challenges, and improve customer service.
While cash payments have been declining for the past couple of years, handling cash remains a fact of life for convenience stores and quick service restaurants (QSRs). In fact, Federal Reserve research shows that 58% of consumers still prefer to use cash for in-person payments of less than $25. Consider that the average number of "small-value" cash payments—$10 is the most common transaction at many convenience stores and QSRs—increased slightly from 2021.
Dealing with cash requires labor, and having cash on-site also presents security risks for store employees, managers, and owners. For many businesses, customer traffic occurs around the clock and they are often located far from their bank, so keeping cash safe is a key concern. Regardless of how much cash your stores have in the register, the workload remains the same: Employees have to count bills, reconcile the till, and take deposits to the bank.
"The amount of time employees spend counting and handling cash could be better spent in ways that generate more revenue," said Robert Norman, Senior Vice President and Head of Cash Logistics Solutions at Fifth Third Bank. "With the added efficiency of no longer having to send employees to the bank, stores can consolidate or even eliminate bank relationships."
Fortunately for convenience store and QSR managers juggling multiple job responsibilities, labor shortages, and shrinking profit margins, there is a better way. With Fifth Third’s Currency Processing Solutions—the combination of an on-site smart safe, recycler with sophisticated cash automation software, and integrated armored car pickup—convenience stores and QSRs can overcome cash management hassles and refocus on their business.
Addressing these key cash management challenges has now become easier thanks to a number of improvements in cash-handling technology.
Saving Labor Costs
Convenience stores and QSRs are dealing with the fallout from the labor crisis that’s plagued retailers for the past two years. While restaurant staff shortages have recently eased, the entire economy still had 9.6 million job openings in June 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is a challenge for all employers.
Automated cash management systems can help. These technologies—hardware and sophisticated software—streamline the work of cash management for convenience store and QSR employees. With on-site deposit and recycling devices, tasks that used to take hours each week may now take just a few minutes. The equipment counts, reconciles, and manages incoming cash, reducing errors and eliminating the need for recounts. It also captures cash-related data that can be used for final reconciliation, analyzing trends, and other functions.
By automating the front end, convenience stores and QSRs can create a complete end-to-end reconciliation process that connects individual stores to headquarters or store owners.
What’s more, Fifth Third’s Currency Processing Solutions records cash held in the on-site deposit device as a deposit in the store’s bank account. This means that employees don’t have to make time-consuming trips to the bank—and they have a real-time view of cash receivables. This solution can decrease the time required to handle cash by an entire full-time equivalent, depending on the size of the store and its cash management needs.
Managing Deposits and Cash Pickups
One of convenience store and QSR managers’ biggest pain points is determining how to secure the cash on-site and managing armored car pickups or bank deposit schedules. The last thing most managers want is to train employees to make bank deposits or send them to multiple banks during their shift hours. Yet coordinating an armored car cash pickup is also a hassle, often resulting in lost time waiting for the trucks to show or making new appointments.
Streamlining deposits and cash pickup is essential. A good cash management system should address both issues. For example, Fifth Third’s Currency Processing Solutions provides secure on-site deposit machines. It also integrates armored car pickup as part of the service, managing all armored courier relationships and coordinating schedules so that store managers and owners don’t have to devote time to the task. In addition, using deposit and recycling equipment also helps reduce the number of cash pickups.
Accessing Real-Time Cash Data
In a rising interest rate environment, having cash on-site isn’t ideal—that’s money that could be working for your business. However, with traditional cash management methods, getting visibility into how much cash is in a store or QSR at any given time can be challenging. On-site deposit devices solve this challenge by providing real-time data regarding cash availability. Fifth Third experts can also help managers and owners use that data to boost working capital and better navigate their cash and treasury management.
Deposits into on-site hardware are made available to stores and QSRs before the cash arrives at the bank. Fifth Third provides provisional credit as part of its currency processing solutions, which lets managers make quick decisions about expenses and operations, using their cash balances. And ultimately, it allows smaller stores and restaurants to better compete with larger peers in the market.
Reducing Cash Security Risk and Shrinkage
Keeping cash in stores makes them more vulnerable to losses via theft and errors. For instance, shrinkage accounted for more than $95 billion in losses in the retail industry, according to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey. Those losses are not all theft, of course, but shrinkage can negatively impact the financial performance of stores. Automated cash management can reduce the number of cash touchpoints employees have, minimizing errors and losses.
On-site depositing can also decrease employee concerns about their own security because cash is stored safely and out of sight. This can be especially important for convenience stores in remote locations or that have 24/7 operating hours.
For convenience stores and QSRs, automating cash management is a game-changer. Not only does it save a significant amount of employee time—time that they can spend on core business tasks—but it also improves security. The technology provides access to real-time data regarding cash holdings that helps stores optimize their working capital, increase their competitiveness and improve their financial performance.