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Business Math: How to Count Change Back to a Customer

Count Change

When a clerk grabs the change due from the cash register and plops it in your hand, you would have to do some pretty quick math to know you got the right change.

But when a clerk counts up from the total and stops at the amount tendered, it is a relief for you and a guarantee for her that the amount is correct. Not everyone is a natural with numbers so I’ll outline the steps to make it easy.

Why Employees Need to Know How to Count Change Back

  • Employees look more professional when they are not confused by simple arithmetic – this reflects on your business!
  • When the power goes out, they can handle it. You don’t want to have to close down the shop just because counting change back manually is too hard for your team!
  • It’s more accurate. Clerks can use it to double check.
  • Employees can fix mistakes. Say a purchase was $2.36. If the customer gives the clerk a fifty but the clerk enters $5 into the cash register by accident, she can figure out the change due on her own.

How to Count Change

Counting change back to a customer is actually pretty easy when you understand what you’re doing.

There are a couple of ways you can count change. First, you can read the number on the cash register and count that amount to the customer. This ensures you grabbed said amount. Second, you can count up from the sale total. This ensures the customer actually gets the right change back.

The number on the cash register:

If you count the number on the cash register, all you’re really doing is ensuring that you got that amount from the register. But what if you entered the amount incorrectly to begin with? Then your cash register’s displayed amount will be wrong and so will the amount you hand to the customer.

Counting up from the amount tendered:

There is no way you can go wrong with this method. Let’s say the total is $7.38. The customer hands the clerk a twenty. She doesn’t have to know what the change is going to be – she doesn’t have to do any subtraction. All she needs to do is count up from $7.38.

Steps to Count Change

1. Start with the pennies to reach a multiple of 5 or 10.

2. Next use a nickel or a dime as you get to a multiple of 25.

3. Use quarters until you reach a dollar.

4. Use one-dollar bills until you reach a multiple of 5 or 10.

5. Use five-dollar bills until you reach 10 or ten-dollar bills until you reach 20.

Example: the process looks like this

The clerk counts to herself 7.39, 7.40, as she takes two pennies. 7.50, as she takes a dime. 8.00, as she takes two quarters. 9.00, 10.00, as she takes two ones. 20.00 as she takes a ten. Then she should count it back to the customer in the same way. Rather than offering the customer $12.62, she should count it back from the total.

It’s easy!

The tricky part is grabbing the right coins in order to give the least amount of coins back to the customer. Nobody wants to walk away with a bunch of dimes and nickles, say, and no quarters. Let’s try a harder one:

The sale price is $5.61 and the customer gives the clerk $10.01. In this case, the customer wants to avoid getting pennies back, so the clerk should put the penny in the drawer and consider the sale amount is now $5.60. Now the clerk will count to herself, 5.70, as she takes a dime. 5.75, as she takes a nickel. 6.00, as she takes a quarter. 7.00, 8.00, 9.00, 10.00, as she takes 4 ones.

Get you employees tracking time online!

10 Responses

  1. It is nice to see them all in one place as a reminder Business Math: How to Count Change Back to a Customer & rabbing the right coins in order.

  2. I found this post extremely helpful. I agree that this is a necessary skill to have and practice with. Thank you for sharing!

  3. What about if u dont have a cash register with you and for example ur a delivery driver

    1. The total change in that case would be $7.15, but I’ll tell you how to get there using the “count back” method. The total was $3.60, but the customer gave the employee $10.75; so the employee would want to count up from $3.60 to reach $10.75 using pennies, nickels, quarters, dimes, etc. If I were the employee, I would know that I need to add money starting from $3.60, so I would grab 1 dime and 1 nickel to make the total $3.75, grab a $5 bill to make the total $8.75, and then add 2 $1 bills to make the grand total $10.75. If you add all of the change together (1 dime, 1 nickel, $5 bill, 2 $1 bills), you would get a total of $7.15 in change.

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