Quit Stalling About Employee Theft

Every day I see news articles about employee theft. That does not even cover a fraction of the employee theft occurring both know or unknown. The fact is that approximately 45% of a Retailer’s losses are due to employees stealing. We focus so heavily on shoplifting that many times a Retailer misses the boat completely. Do not misinterpret what I am saying, shoplifting is responsible for about 35 percent of a Retailer’s losses. Which is also huge.

However, employees have access to your cash, supplies, and merchandise. Employees are generally trusted until they show us that they are not. Which may be too late! Many Retailers I have discussed this with over the years tell me that they trust their employees and treat them well. Therefore they would not steal from them. Those are the folks that have the worst losses and the biggest shock when it does happen. As human beings, we do not want to believe that someone would steal from us. We also are quick to turn a blind eye to the evidence even when it hits us in the head. We simply do not want to believe it.  

Another factor is that many Retailers do not know, understand and are afraid to do something. Will we make a mistake? Would we accuse someone of something they did not do? What civil and criminal consequences do we face? And the list goes on. This is yet another stalling factor for not doing anything. 

Quit stalling about employee theft. You face every other retail problem head on why not this. Educate yourself. We can help you with this. Make sure you know the signals of employee theft. Yes, employees who steal, act differently than other employees. You simply need to know what to listen and watch for. Do you “audit” your operation? For example, an audit can be as simple as making sure the Point-Of-Sale balances every day and if it does not, find out why. I have seen many Owners and Managers that say if the drawer is short $5 or less, they do not look into it because “it is not worth my time”, REALLY??? THAT IS SO WRONG and dangerous!!!! First by having a policy like this you are telling everyone that stealing $4.99 and below is okay. $4.99 times 365 days a year is a loss of $1,821.35. Oh, and that kind of theft WILL lead to larger and more frequent employee theft. 

Over my career, I have investigated, interrogated and put in jail somewhere north of 2300 employees for theft. The vast majority of those employees that were stealing did it for the same reasons. Many still stole even those the boss was “good to them”. I have seen employees that had been loaned large amounts of money by their employer, employees that were being put through school by their employer steal with no regret except for being caught. 

We can train you to spot employee theft and what to do about it when you suspect and find it. It is not hard to do. We can show you how to “test” employees to see if they are stealing. We can help you build the confidence to be on the offense, not the defense.  Your good employees will not care or suffer. In fact, they will help you. You just need to know how to proceed. 

Would you knowingly buy a car that had major engine and transmission problems? Probably not. So why would you hire someone with a criminal record? Why would you not find out that they have problems with violence, theft, drugs and worse when it is so simple, fast and cost-effective to do so? We can help you with that also. We conduct pre-employment screening, drug testing and more, nationwide. Look at it this way, you interview, select, employ, train, invest in an employee just to find out the hard way that they are very familiar with employee theft? When a pre-employment screening costs $20 how can you afford not to. Drug testing is also very inexpensive. You can quickly, cheaply and easily have a pre-employment drug testing done on all of your employment candidates when you offer them the position. Again, we conduct pre-employment screening and drug testing nationwide. 

You control every other aspect of your business, why would you not take more control of employee theft? Contact us today or call toll free 1-866-914-2567. 

I Want Shoplifters To Steal From My Store!

Really?? Is that what you are thinking? Because if you do not have an active shoplifting prevention plan that you work, then you might as well put up a sign that says “Shoplift Here Because We Do Not Care!” That is what the shoplifters hear and see.  

So to have a great plan in place for shoplifters to steal, here are the things you need to do: 

  • Poor customer service. Shoplifters love it when they come into your store and the customer service is lax, mediocre or simply non-existent. They do not need your help to steal, just privacy. 
  • Make sure you do not train your employees to spot and/or deter shoplifters. Lazy, untrained store staff are the shoplifter’s best friend. You really cannot say “steal my stuff” better than that. 
  •  DO NOT BUY a Sensormatic anti-shoplifting system from Loss Prevention Systems! We are in the business of shutting down shoplifters. 
  • Make sure that you keep the lighting dim. Do not replace lights when they go out especially in dark, hidden areas of your store. It makes the shoplifter’s job easier. 
  • Do not put those pesky little Sensormatic hard tags and labels on your merchandise. It hurts the shoplifter’s ability to resell your stuff.  
  • Make sure that your staff never greets anyone when they come in. If you are not going to supply good customer service anyway do not bother to look up from your smart phone. You certainly do not want to have a low score in that on-line game you are playing. Besides, greeting shoplifters makes them feel uncomfortable because they have been noticed. 
  • Make sure shoplifters have a clear unobstructed path out of your doors. That way the arm load of merchandise they have in hidden or in plain sight does not get in their way. Actually it will make it more convenient for them to load up even more. 
  • If you want to at least feel a little better about all this put up signs that say “No Shoplifting” or “Shoplifters Will Be Prosecuted”. This sends a clear signal to the shoplifters that you have no clue about what it takes to stop them. It is kind of like that old joke; putting up shoplifting signs is like wetting your pants in a dark suit. You feel warm but no one notices. 
  • If you do spot a shoplifter, do not stop them. This is the best way to spread the word in the shoplifting world. They will flock to you like flies to….. They will clean you out just in time to move in next season’s merchandise. Hey, this also saves you time and payroll dollars in the inventory process since there is less to count. 
  • Make sure you have a CCTV system since shoplifters do not care about cameras. They know you do not have the payroll dollars to watch them full time and they know that they will be long gone before you would have any opportunity to review the recording. 

On the other hand shoplifting prevention is not all that difficult. Just do the opposite of the items listed above. We can help you with all of it from procedures, training and the installation of a brand new Sensormatic system. 

Building Structure And Design To Discourage Theft

When stores are put together it is usually designed with appearance and functionality in mind. What you may not have thought about is how the structure and layout of a store might be helpful in discouraging shoplifting and other crimes. Have you ever paid attention to the gas station store layouts? Often the cashier island is in the center of the building and raised higher than the rest of the store. Low fixtures allow almost complete visibility of all areas of the store. It may not seem too important but if you have worked in Loss Prevention you know that this is an intentional design that helps reduce theft. By placing the employees higher they can see over customer’s heads and view what is happening in more parts of the store. Shorter gondola shelving may hamper how much merchandise can be displayed but by the same token visibility is enhanced. Those hiding places that shoplifters tend to congregate to become much harder to find.  

     It is important for store owners to keep theft in mind as they are planning how they are going to design their stores. Here are some additional ideas that you can consider as you build a store or perhaps redesign an existing one: 

  • Corral areas where high theft items are stocked. Corralling is the use of gondolas and cash register stands to create an enclosed department. There is only one way in and out and that requires passing the register. This design gives the managers a lot of control over the area and makes theft much more difficult. The drawback to a corralled department is that an employee has to always be dedicated to the department. That means it becomes a payroll expense. Many large chains that were utilizing this concept have moved away from it due in part to the cost of running it. It also ties down an employee who could otherwise help in other areas. 
  • Bright lighting throughout the store is important. Criminals seek shadows and darkness to cover their activity especially dark corners. Make these areas uninviting to crooks. Ensure you have lighting that hits every part of the store. This should include your stockrooms as well. Shoplifters are not the only criminals that will take advantage of your building, dishonest employees will too. 
  • For fire exit doors ensure the egress bars are set up with delays. Frequently shoplifters will fill up a shopping cart or bag with merchandise and hit a fire door with a getaway car parked right outside. A thief doesn’t want anything that will delay their exit from a building. A delay on a fire exit doesn’t have to be a long one but it does activate the door alarm when the egress bar is pushed. This alerts employees that a fire door is about to open and if someone is nearby they can respond to it quickly. A sign is required to be placed on the door or the bar alerting people that the door does have a delay. This can discourage many potential grab and run shoplifting incidents. 
  • Bollards or decorative barriers such as cement planters set up at the edge of the sidewalk outside of the front door(s) are an important feature. The use of such barriers discourage a vehicle being from driven through the entrance in a crash and run theft. 
  • Electronic article surveillance towers at all entrance and exit doors are a powerful deterrent to theft. Shoplifters become aware that anti-theft measures are in place as soon as they walk into the store. Using towers at employee accessible doors discourages associates from stealing from the workplace. A word of caution, don’t set up dummy towers and think you will achieve the same results. Criminals will figure out what is going on. Use Sensormatic equipment and Sensormatic tags and labels to get the real protection your store needs. 
  • Have counterfeit bill scanners and cash drop boxes at each register. Cashiers can scan all $20, $50 and $100 bills to prevent fraud. The drop box is used to remove the threat potential of short change artists, till tappers and even robberies. 
  • Finally, though they may seem expensive a few strategically placed cameras and Public View monitors can aid your managers in moving thieves out of hard to see locations.  

Store design has a direct influence on theft and crime. Putting barriers up that will hinder crime and eliminating those obstacles that prevent your team from seeing your customers can improve the security of your building. Remove crime and you make your store safer while also making a positive impact on profits.                                                

Did The Grinch Steal Your Retail Christmas? 

Wow, Christmas is over and Retailers are starting to dig out from the carnage. Unfortunately, some of the carnage is all the merchandise that shoplifters have liberated from your store. I believe that theft is actually the oldest vice around. Even older than “the oldest profession”. As long are there are two things on this earth 1-people and 2-stuff, there will be theft. Well, neither is going away anytime soon. So what do we do?  

The first thing is to make the decision to take your store back from the enemy. Putting the solution off will not fix the problem and it will get worse. The second is to implement the two proven solutions. Training and a Sensormatic system. 

TRAINING – Over the past 35 years I have heard countless retailers say the same thing. “I don’t know what I can or cannot do with or about shoplifters”. Shoplifters are no different than any other business challenge we face. Attack it head-on. Loss Prevention Systems can educate you on what you can and cannot do. But more importantly, we will take you off the defensive and put you on the offense. Now I know what you may be thinking right now. “I am not going to chase shoplifters down and tackle them!”. Well, I am glad we got that out because we do not want you to do that either. We want to prevent the loss from occurring (that’s why we call ourselves Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. What a coincidence, huh?).  

Training should cover a discussion of the problem itself, the law both criminal and civil, who shoplifters are and how to spot them before they even steal, going on the offensive with customer service tactics and more. We do this live via webinar with as many of your folks as you can pull together. I have actually found that most of the time we need to do two sessions so we do not leave the store short staffed or someone misses out. Training will help give you the confidence to attack the shoplifting scourge head-on. 

SENSORMATIC SYSTEM – “So if I am trained, why do I need a Sensormatic system and Sensormatic security labels?” Great question, glad you asked that! (sorry, I am in one of those moods) Consider this, training is only half of the solution. You and your staff can be trained up in the techniques to prevent and deal with shoplifting but you cannot be everywhere at once, even in a small boutique. Shoplifters WILL create an environment where they can steal. On top of that what you will find is that some of your “best” customers are also actually stealing from you. Yes, that good customer is buying merchandise, either small inexpensive items or even more expensive ones but they are actually stealing other merchandise in addition to that. And because they are a “best” or frequently seen customer less attention is paid to their activities. They are kind of a fixture, they hang out a bit, joke with the staff, ask questions and then…. They are simply not observed because “that’s just Sam or Wendy, they are really nice”. 

So to handle all that you will find that a Sensormatic system is actually cheaper than additional payroll. In addition to that, the Sensormatic system never takes a day off, does not call in sick or no show. The Sensormatic system is working 24/7. Actually, many of our systems actually power themselves down after you close to save on your energy bill. They automatically wake themselves up when you come in the next day. 

A Sensormatic system has two benefits. It sends a message to the thieves (real customers do not care) and prevents losses. And, of course, the tags and labels are actually protecting your merchandise and bottom line. 

So there are no more excuses. Make this year the best yet for sales you make and actually keep the margin make on the bottom line. Grinch, GO AWAY! Contact us today. We can make both Training and a Sensormatic system your reality. 


A Proper Reflection Of The Past Year Can Make The New Year Even Better

It is January and you are ready to get started on your new year. What does the start of a New Year look like for your business? Are you still trying to move out seasonal and clearance merchandise? Are you preparing to trim back payroll by releasing seasonal employees? Maybe you are already thinking about inventory and what you will need to do to prepare for that day. There are all sorts of ways retail owners and managers start the New Year but I would suggest that before you look forward you take time to look back on the previous year. 

There are a couple of reasons I would suggest reflecting on what the past year has been like for the business. First, by taking the time to reflect on the year you can celebrate the store wins with the entire store team. Employees want to know how their contributions have helped the store meet goals that were set. You may have one or one hundred successes to share but your entire team has put in the work and should be given a chance to share in the successes. It can be a simple cake in the breakroom or a small in-store party but let your employees know that their efforts paid off and are appreciated.  

 Another reason for reflection is that you can evaluate what did not go as planned. This is when you pull out planning documents or action plans and look at what goals were not reached. Did you meet your sales goals? Did you make stock shortage objectives? Did you meet your employee turnover goals? If you cannot celebrate an item as a win you will want to move that to the new store action plan for this year. You and your management team will need to consider what can be done differently to achieve the goals you set and missed. This is not a 5-minute task. This will require the team to drill down to the causes that led to a missed goal and then plan how to improve it. Sometimes this can feel personal and everyone needs to leave their feelings outside the room. Approach the problem as a group and find ways to help each other with action items. 

One of my favorite tools for a New Year is what I have adopted from several workplaces, a “What Works/What Didn’t Work” session. I have seen these done by only a management team but the truly effective sessions include team members and hourly staff. The employees will often provide you with insight into problems you did not know existed. Here is an example; you may think you have a good return policy and your return desk employees are happy. You don’t see anything that indicates problems with your refund program. What you may not be aware of is that your service desk employees are unhappy because they feel that managers are not supporting them after they turn down a refund with no receipt. The managers are called when the customer is upset and the manager arrives and tells the customer they “will take care of it”. Sure, the customers are happy and the policies look like they are enforced but the service desk employees feel foolish and undermined. A “What Worked/What Didn’t Work” session can help you see how you can improve policies, services and improve morale. When you conduct one, make sure you also ask your employees for suggestions on how to improve what they think did not work. Don’t let it simply be a gripe session. It also allows you to clarify reasons some policies may be in place that employees were unaware of before the meetings. 

After you have celebrated, evaluated and set new goals you are almost ready to jump into your New Year. Make sure your goals are realistic and create plans that will be effective in achieving those goals. If reducing shortage by .5% is your goal, you may want to install an Electronic Article Surveillance system. If making your hiring process easier and reducing paperwork is a goal, Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can help you with their Applicant Management Center. If parking lot break-ins are an issue you can request improved lighting from your property management company. If you need help in risk assessment and loss reduction Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. offers a consultation package that involves everything from an onsite visit to a comprehensive loss prevention policies and procedures package. 

Start your year off right with a look back at the previous year. Share wins, evaluate opportunities and work as a team to create plans that will lead to an even better year than last. Make 2019 a year of growth and prosperity and consider taking Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. along as a partner!


 

Loss Prevention Systems For The New Year

For a loss prevention officer, the holiday season is a hard time to be jolly when the busiest shopping season of the year brings with it its shoplifters, crime, and theft.  During the holiday season, the number of incidents involving shoplifting increases considerably, and the losses the store suffers can be devastating to their bottom line.

For any retail store in the United States and across the globe, having a loss prevention system in place or a loss prevention officer in their store can be the difference between having profits or losses during their fiscal year. 

According to recent studies, more than half of retail stores in the United States have stopped investing in their loss prevention teams or systems even though their inventory shrink rate has seen an increase in the last year.  The inventory shrink rate takes into consideration the following:

  • Shoplifting
  • Employee theft
  • Vendor fraud
  • Administrative and paperwork errors

Shoplifting theft accounts for almost 40% of the total theft a store experiences, and even though the amount an employee steals can surpass that of the common shoplifter each instance it happens, the shoplifting theft can be considerable every year.

According to many pieces of research, retail stores lose approximately $35 million a day due to shoplifting or $48.9 billion in a year. Those detrimental statistics in the retail industry are worth considering when many stores and businesses decide whether to invest in a loss prevention system or a loss prevention team to combat the shoplifting in their store.

A loss prevention system expense can be recovered within a short period of time, and if your losses are increasing each year, the time you will recoup the money invested in the system shortens considerably. 

The introduction of a loss prevention system in the store allows your employees to dedicate more time with the customers entering your store, than attempting to catch the shoplifter. The system also allows your store to be protected and send a message to the shoplifters. Shoplifters know where and which stores to target.  If you are a store that doesn’t prosecute shoplifters or doesn’t have a loss prevention team or system, you are vulnerable and can become the target store for many of these shoplifters.


Hiring Well For The Holiday Season

For the retail industry and small businesses in general, the holiday season has started, and for them, this season can be a financial boost for their business.

The significant change in sales, profits, and employment take a front seat during the holiday season, and it can be a breaking or making point for many businesses across many industries.

By November, the retail industry has hired many part-time sales personnel to help with the holiday season, expecting those employees will be ready when black Friday sales start.   Many of those businesses will let go many of those employees, but some of them will stay with the business well after the season is over. 

The benefits associated with keeping those employees on payroll are many, but most importantly, it is the expense associated with hiring new employees every few months that make sense. Many businesses strive to hire quality employees and can see the benefit in training them and keeping them well after the holiday season is over.  The expense of hiring new employees regularly makes no financial sense for them considering the rise in costs associated with it.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the cost of hiring a new employee is $4,129.  Not only that,  but it also takes weeks for those employees to be ready to perform their job well, and if not trained properly, the cost of retraining puts a financial strain in the business and their profits.

When paying for a background check before hiring a new employee, or for proper training the first time around, the costs associated with acquiring quality employees can become minimal if done properly the first time around. 

Many businesses now a day hire new employees constantly, never training them well and getting rid of them before their first paycheck arrives.  That’s a very costly way of acquiring employees or retaining the ones they have, and acquiring good employees using this method is riddled with problems from the beginning.

A business needs to invest in properly hiring and training their new hires.  The financial benefits will follow for the business.


Why Quality Background Checks Matter: The Benefits Of Using AMC

Hiring employees is hard enough for retail owners without the pressures of hiring seasonal staff during the holidays as many stores are now doing. Under normal circumstances, managers and owners of retail businesses are stretched thin keeping a store operating efficiently. When turnover occurs more time is taken up as those managers are forced to focus their energies on filling holes in the weekly schedule. Job ads are posted and often paper applications are handed out as interested persons come in to respond to the ad or a “Help Wanted” sign posted in a window. Then there is the security risk that is involved in the hiring of new employees whether they are seasonal or to be a regular member of a team. A new hire carries an unknown quality and there is always the off chance that with even the best interview a criminal can slip between the cracks, the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing.

     At Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. we are well aware of the challenges the hiring process poses, especially in the small to mid-size store market. In order to streamline the Human Resources piece of your business and to significantly reduce the chances that criminals will be brought on board in the process, we have introduced the Applicant Management Center (AMC). Here are some of the featured benefits we offer to employers that use our AMC to fill positions regardless of the tenure of that position:

  • Employers that rely on paper applications or in-store job kiosks limit applicants to hours of store operating hours. The Applicant Management System offered by LPSI provides interested parties 24/7 access your job application.
  • With the AMC employers can advertise an unlimited number of positions.
  • Have you dealt with sifting through untold numbers of applications, many of which are from people with none of the qualifications you are looking for in an employee? By using the AMC services of LPSI you have the ability to create qualifying questions that will flag responses. By doing so you can eliminate unqualified candidates from your applicant pool and streamline the hiring process.
  • Enjoy the benefit of communicating with applicants directly through the Applicant Management System. No more sorting through applications, typing in email addresses or risking emailing the wrong person.
  • Then there are those very real concerns over increased security risks that come with hiring. The Applicant Management Center assists store owners with mitigating concerns of hiring someone who may pose safety and/or security related problems. Owners can initiate pre-employment background checks on applicants directly through the AMC. Taylor those background checks to include what is important to you, driving records, education, criminal history, sex offender registries and so much more.
  • Drug Screening can also be initiated through the AMC helping you to eliminate illegal substance users who may cause accidents to themselves or customers. They can also be potential thieves trying to support a habit. LPSI can reduce the chances you hire someone with a drug use problem.
  • How about credit checks? Who wants to take a chance of hiring a person with a poor credit history to work around cash or a point of sale for that matter? All consent and agreement forms to conduct credit checks, background checks and drug screenings can be maintained, signed and stored in one central location in the AMC.
  • Last but not least the AMC is affordable! There is no need to break the bank to improve your hiring process.

For those readers still feeling unsure about the AMC and the background check process Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. is offering free demos of our product. LPSI recognizes that there is a direct relationship between the hiring process and store profitability. We can help you avoid hiring pitfalls. Use the Applicant Management Center and save yourself time, money and unnecessary shortage during this holiday season and throughout the year.


Employees are harder to find should this impact the way you conduct seasonal hiring?

As of September 2018, the national unemployment rate is down to 3.7% according to ncls.org. As a retail store owner thinks about what this means for you in terms of trying to hire to fill job openings including seasonal hiring for the holidays. With an employment rate of 96.3% that leaves a sparse workforce as a hiring pool. I have read articles by those who think that with a dwindling number of people seeking work employers are going to have to forego pre-employment background checks. They seem to believe that the need to hire outweighs any baggage the job candidates bring with them.

     Not only are employment background checks being called into question for the reasons stated above there is also a school of thought that pre-employment drug screening may be a bad idea. This line of reasoning includes the limited availability of candidates in the workforce but also suggests that the increased legalization of marijuana use in some states is negating the reasons for having applicants take the tests.

     When taken together think about what it means to the retail employer. Store owners are required to rely on the information supplied by a candidate to make hiring decisions. Screening consists of the responses of the candidate to your questions during an interview and perhaps a couple of recommendations from their list of references. How confident are you in the references provided? Do you know if they are going to be honest about the character of the person you are considering for the job? How many of us really put down a reference who we think will not speak well of us? You also bet on the roll the dice whether your new hire is a drug user. Fail to a drug screen and the chances increase for accidents and even theft. Both theft and accidents can be costly in the long term, whether the employee is a seasonal worker or regular hire. Employee accidents can result in workers compensation claims. Accidents involving a customer as a result of an employee’s negligence can result in a lawsuit against your business.

     The question you need to answer is whether it is worth changing your hiring practices to ramp up your seasonal staffing needs? The short answer is no, you should not modify or change tried and true methods of hiring. Those methods help you bring in new help and reduce your exposure to safety and shortage risks. Pre-employment background screenings can be tailored to meet the criteria you want them to assess so you may review what you are screening for and eliminate some of the categories that may not be as important for a part-time worker. For instance, if a driving record check is part of your normal pre-employment screening is that necessary for someone who will work in your stockroom for a few months? You might not really need to validate someone’s education level if you are only hiring them for the season and they do not intend to apply to stay after that.

      Likewise, a credit history, criminal background check, and review of the sex offender registry are the minimum three searches I recommend every store owner require of applicants regardless of the amount of time they will work for you. The credit history should be checked in case your prospective employee is in dire financial trouble. He/she may see this job as a means of extricating themselves from their problem. The criminal history should be checked because it could include everything from assaults to theft. You don’t want someone prone to violence working around other employees or customers and have them lose control. Nor would you want a convicted thief working around merchandise and/or cash. The sex offender registry check speaks for itself. You are responsible for the safety of all of your employees and your customers and the risk of hiring a person on the sex offender registry is too great to consider.

     Seasonal hiring may be a bit more of a challenge when the economy is strong but it is no reason to discard proven methods of shortage reduction. Holidays also tend to be times of increased safety issues. Drug testing and pre-employment screenings are an effective means of maintaining a safe work environment. Don’t lose sight of the fact that there are a lot of people who are looking for a seasonal job simply for a little extra spending cash. There are also young people looking for that first job experience and a paycheck. You may have to find new ways to get the word out about your positions but don’t fret, there is always an honest person looking for a job (or a second one).


     

Strategies to Keep Black Fridays From Becoming Bleak Fridays (A Focus on Sales, Safety and Security)

Black Friday and the holiday shopping weekend has generally been the time of the year that most retailers are excited about. This is the time when shoppers are going to pull out their wallets and spend money. Deep discounts, doorbusters, even gift bags for the first customers, have been used to entice shoppers to visit stores early. It has been so successful as a marketing tool that stores have even advertised early Black Friday sales in JULY! Unfortunately, it seems that there has been a dark cloud overshadowing this weekend and it is more ominous each year. This cloud is one that can turn a Black Friday into a Bleak Friday if a store owner isn’t prepared for it.

     The black cloud involves the safety and security of customers and retail sales for the store owners. There are factors owners must take into account to keep that cloud from raining on a weekend that should be making shoppers happy and keeping registers ringing. As a Loss Prevention Manager, I have seen to it that my stores have remained safe during the Black Friday weekend but I have followed incidents at other stores where things turned ugly. Customers have gotten hurt rushing into stores. People have fought over doorbuster items that were limited in quantity. I have had to intervene when shoppers argued over not receiving a raincheck for a one-time purchase item. I have also worked a Black Friday when all of the registers went off-line and customers became angry and abandoned shopping carts. All of these can have a negative impact on sales and hamper the weekend that should be one of significant profits for a store.

     Here are some suggestions for preparing your store and employees for the event:

  • One of the things that set customers off is waiting in a line only to find out that a particular doorbuster is sold out. If you have some item you expect will draw in customers but there is a limited quantity, have a ticket for each item. Have someone go through the line as it forms and ask who is there for that item. Pass out the tickets and set aside enough to fill those orders. Continue to do this until you open the doors. If you run out of tickets before you open the doors be honest with the customers who are continuing to walk up and let them know you are out of that item.
  • Consider hiring a security company to provide a presence at the front of the stores to help keep order. A lot of altercations begin outside when people who have formed orderly lines and have waited patiently believe others are cutting in front of them. They are also a great presence to keep shoppers safe as they leave with their purchases to go to their cars. If you don’t want to hire security you can see if local police are willing to make frequent drive-by’s. Another alternative is to have two or three employees mingle with the line, talk about the sale items and even hand out store maps where specific sale items are located.
  • Check all of your point of sale equipment at least a week in advance to try to ensure there are no equipment failures on Black Friday.
  • Have a technician test all of your electronic article surveillance equipment to minimize false alarms and reduce the opportunity for theft to take place.
  • A lot of cash transactions take place on this holiday weekend and it is a good time for counterfeit bills to be passed. Be sure cashiers are using counterfeit pens for $50 and $100 bills. If possible a counterfeit bill detector for each point of sale is a better solution. Know that if you take counterfeit bills your store is not reimbursed or covered by your financial institution.
  • If your store happens to use display cases for some high ticket items, be sure more than one employee is carrying keys to assist customers and minimize wait times (also consider all of the retail anti-theft options available from Sensormatic that can improve security while enhancing sales).
  • Think about offering free coffee or tea to patrons who may be waiting outside for the store to open. You would be surprised at the positive response you will get from shoppers.

By taking the time to prepare in advance and plan out your Black Friday weekend you can minimize safety and security risks. The same planning will boost sales and ensure that your business truly experiences a very profitable holiday.