Getting To The Heart Of The Matter, Hiring The Wrong People Can Dishearten Your Staff

Hopefully, your store is one of those places where employees look forward to coming to work. You know what I’m talking about it’s that environment where everyone is happy to be there. Employees know they are there to get a job done and take pride in the service they offer to the customers. It’s the type of job where people may have an off day but their co-workers are supportive and help pick them up. It happens to all of us. These jobs have a manager who interacts with the employees and takes a real interest in each of them. The boss may take time to say hello and greet everyone. They know their employees by name and may even know their families. Unfortunately, not every workplace has such a camaraderie amongst the team members. There is any number of reasons this can happen but a major contributor to an unhappy workplace can be the hiring of an employee with a poor attitude.

Unhappy employees don’t always start out that way. They can get through an interview without any problem and they may begin working and get along fine. It is after they are hired that their true colors begin to show. These people are the type who start to complain to their co-workers when they are unhappy about something. It could be a work schedule they don’t care for that triggers the griping. The complaints tend to be general and not geared toward any particular person at first. When no one addresses the complaining the employee gets more vocal over time and begins to find other issues they don’t like. They are never limited to one gripe and constantly find perceived problems and share those perceptions with others. The complaining spreads as this person talk to others and suddenly people who were perfectly happy with their jobs and managers are taking exception to things. Where someone was fine with working at night or on weekends in the past they now feel they should not be expected to work when other jobs don’t require these types of hours. Never mind that they chose to work in retail which does require night and weekend workers. People begin to show up to work in bad moods anticipating that a non-existent problem is going to impact them again.

Now that the workplace has been infected with the virus of negativity and people are coming to the job with poor attitudes the problem manifests itself in other forms. Those who used to smile and engage customers with pleasantries are now frowning and giving curt, “Hello’s” to patrons. Customers get annoyed and share their experiences with friends and family. The atmosphere of the store is poisoned and like any poison, people avoid it lest they become ill or worse.

Guess what, this is not where the problem for your business ends. When workers become dissatisfied their performance wanes as well. The person who used to take care to stock the shelves properly and put merchandise where it belongs now puts merchandise in the general area. Clothing on racks that were once sized and straightened are now fortunate to make it onto a hanger let alone the arm of a fixture. The appearance of the store declines and employees don’t care. There is a malaise that sets in and an employee thinks to himself, “Why should I bother to fix it if no one else cares why should I?” If customers refuse to come in due to poor service they certainly won’t come in to shop in a store that is trashed.

To get to the heart of the matter you have to look at the culture of your store and what it is that is causing your store to decline. If everything was going well until you brought in that new hire then you have to get rid of that infection quickly. Afterwards be careful in your hiring process. Take a careful look at the applications, resumes and employment stability. Coupled with background checks and pre-employment screening your workplace can get back to the place it was but it is never easy. Bad habits are easier to create than break and your team may now have a bunch to break. Have a heart and be thoughtful in your hiring practices, your employees will love you for it.

Sweethearts In February Are wonderful, Sweethearting Deals Between Employees And Their Friends Are Not

It is the time of year again when Cupid starts shooting his arrows and couples fall in love. What is more romantic than the marriage proposal in a restaurant and a ring presented in a glass of champagne? How about sweethearts strolling along the beach under a moonlit night? Is there anything more touching than the couple that has been married for a very long time and they still walk hand in hand wherever they go? Sometimes love makes us do something dumb to try to impress the apple of our eye. In one instance, a prisoner escaped from jail because he was worried how his wife might react to all the time he had been spending in jail. In another instance, a man robbed three waffle house restaurants and a 4th business in order to pay off his girlfriend’s probation fees (both from, “11 Strange Things Done in the Name of Love,” by Jennifer M. Wood, Feb 14, 2014). Perhaps it is the purchase of a ring we can’t afford but we are determined to show our love and commitment to the person we are enamored with. Love is fine and we may even excuse behaviors we might normally consider silly when two people are in love. What is not acceptable is when love and friendship turn into “Sweethearting” deals in a retail business.

 Sweethearting is a theft or fraud activity that transpires between two or more people who know each other. At least one is an employee who provides special deals to his or her friend(s) and sometimes co-workers. The transgressions often start out small. They may involve giving a small discount on a drink or snack. Maybe it is “accidentally on purpose” overlooking an item while scanning merchandise through a register. More often than not what starts off as a little gift or friendly gesture evolves into a big problem. That boyfriend or girlfriend starts coming to the store more frequently and checking out in their friend’s line. What may have started out as the occasional extra candy bar in the bag or a large drink at the snack bar for the price of a small drink quickly turns into outright passing and theft.

If the activity is going to take place at the register, the cashier may send a text message to the friend alerting them that they are on a register and will look for them to come in. There are a variety of ways the two can rip-off the store. The cashier can ring merchandise up and discount it so it appears the transaction is legitimate. The employee can fail to ring up merchandise and bag it which becomes a passing situation. There is also the tendering of money that can result in cash shortage. The friend hands over a cash payment and the cashier gives too much change to the patron. This is a difficult type of theft to see transpire because money does change hands.

Sweethearting also takes place when an employee intentionally looks the other way when her friend is in the store shoplifting.  This does not require the employee to take an active role in the crime. All that is required is for the employee to make a point of turning a blind eye to the theft as it is being perpetrated. There are times when the two parties plan out when the friend will come to the store and steal. This also means the employee is now an active participant and aiding in the commission of the crime which is much more serious on the part of the staff member.

Encourage your team to be friendly and courteous. Go above and beyond in the service you offer to customers. Love your shoppers, just make sure your employees aren’t being sweethearts in the process.


Late Night And Overnight Store Operations Make It Difficult To Prevent Shoplifting And Robbery

I watched a video shared with me by a former Loss Prevention Manager colleague. The video showed three subjects enter a retail store and all appeared to be wearing masks and at least one looked to be carrying a rifle of some type. There were several employees at the front entrance when the subjects walked in and one of the employees seemed to say something to the one who was carrying what I will refer to as a rifle. The video was not the greatest and the camera is pointing into the store from the exterior door so for the most part, the backs of the perpetrators are seen.

The employee who approached the subject standing at the doorway may have said something and in the video, it appears the employee was hit and knocked to the floor. Two of the bad guys raced into the store and shortly afterward ran out and it seems they were carrying bags. I did not inquire as to what was stolen from the store but one person did inquire why this particular retailer was open after midnight (an unusual time of the evening for this company to have the doors to their stores open). It turns out they were open late for a special sale of “Star Wars” toys being released.

The idea of remaining open late into the night has always disturbed me. In my opinion, it invites all sorts of problems. How do you prevent robberies this late at night? How do you prevent shoplifting? What about the protection you should be offering your customers who come to your store so late? All of these are things that retailers should be considering before they make a decision to try to get one more sale or add one more dollar to the register.

 One thing that Loss Prevention departments can do little about is stopping a robbery while it is in the act of occurring. They also cannot control who is coming into a store. This brings me back to the point about store leadership that decides to leave a store open late at night. The idea is that sales are going to surge (for that night or event) and the store has to beat the competition. If a store is going to be open late at night, and the owner/manager believes this is the best business decision my first recommendation is that the store is fully staffed. More employees are a deterrent to thieves and robbers not to mention shoplifters than a skeleton crew.

Customer safety has to be considered and so it is the obligation of management to make sure parking lot lights are all on and working properly. Several weeks prior to the event(s) a thorough inspection of parking lot lighting should be completed and ALL issues fixed by the property owner prior to the event. All exterior building lights must be working to take away areas where criminals may try to lurk. Camera (closed-circuit television systems) installation would be a good idea and today it can be done for relatively little money. Fixed cameras can be installed to monitor front entrances and exits, cash registers, a cash office and even sidewalks and parking lots. Finally, and this can be controversial, hire an armed security officer or off-duty police officer to work the front door of the store.

There are people who have a concern with an armed security officer or off-duty police officer for store protection. This is where the controversy comes in. What if someone(s) enters the store to commit an armed robbery? If that officer draws their weapon to intervene the possibility of innocent customers or employees being injured increases exponentially. On the other hand, an armed officer may be a strong deterrent to would-be robbers and their visibility may prevent shoplifting by being stationed at the front doors. The question remains, what if that one robbery attempt happens and everything goes bad? Store owners and managers MUST take that into consideration before taking that step.

I am not a fan of the late night or overnight store operation. I believe the risks associated with these events along with the possibility of robbery and increased theft, far outweigh the financial gain. Instead, drive profits with great customer service, great values and sales and reduced shortage with the use of retail anti-theft devices. Make safety and security a priority and your employees will appreciate it and customers will reward you by spending money in your store.