How to Use a Cash Register

For many young people, working a cash register in a retail setting will be their first paying job. These machines are not very intuitive, making cash register training an important part of employee orientation. Your training to use a cash register should not only involve physically working the machine but also in cash security and attention to detail.

Setting Up the Register

Set up the machine before beginning your shift. Begin by counting down your drawer. Every cash drawer should have a set amount of cash and coins to be used to make change. Count the amount of money in your drawer to make sure it holds the right amount. Your manager will have a sheet for you to sign, acknowledging the amount of money you're accepting in your drawer. Check the register to make sure it has receipt paper installed. If the roll is near the end (it will begin to show a colored stripe in the middle of the paper) replace it with a new roll. Put your cash drawer in the register and input your employee code to sign on.

Working a Cash Register

Every cash register style is different. Some have touch screens with pictures showing items for sale, while others simply have numbers like a calculator along with department names. Your cashier training manager will show you how to input numbers or orders with your store's particular style of cash register.

No matter what type of machine you use, you'll always follow the same basic rules.

  • Carefully repeat back requests to the customer to make sure you heard him clearly. 
  • Double-check prices after you ring them up. 
  • Count multiple items carefully to ensure you're charging the correct amount. 
  • Match coupons with items sold, and check dates to make sure you don't accept expired coupons.

Once you have rung up everything in the customer's order, hit subtotal to find out how much he or she owes. Enter the amount tendered into the register and it will tell you how much change to give back to the customer. Count it back out loud, to make sure the customer knows you're giving the right amount of change. If payment is made with a credit card instead of cash, slide the card through the slot or allow the customer to place the card into the chip reader. Print out a receipt for the customer to sign. After it is signed, place it in your register drawer.

Closing Down the Register

At the end of the shift, it's up to you to make sure all the money that should be in your drawer is there. Begin by closing out the register to get a final total on all transactions made on your shift. Get a printout of the closing total, then remove your cash drawer and sign out on the register to end your shift. Take the drawer to a secure location where you can count the money without being interrupted. Remove all the money from the drawer, then count enough money back into the drawer to create a new change drawer for the next shift.

Count the money that's left over. Compare that amount to the closing total from your shift. It should be the same amount. If the amount is over or under, find out what mistakes you made in miscounting and report it to your manager.

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About the Author

Victoria Bailey has owned and operated businesses for 25 years, including an award-winning gourmet restaurant and a rare bookstore. She spent time as a corporate training manager in the third-largest restaurant chain in its niche, but her first love will always be small and independent businesses. Bailey has written for USAToday, Coldwell Banker, and various restaurant magazines, and is the ghostwriter for a nationally-known food safety training guru.