Not Planning For Summer Customer Traffic In March Is Madness

Not Planning For Summer Customer Traffic In March Is Madness

Have you ever noticed how quickly big box retailers will transition from the Christmas season in their “seasonal” departments to jumping into the new Spring/Summer merchandising sets? They don’t play around they are very strategic in their planning to get a jump on their competition. They use their mini-seasonal areas to drive the Valentine’s Day and Easter business but the large areas used for patio sets, plants, gardening, etc. get changed shortly after the Christmas season is over. Smaller retail stores should be doing their own transitions at this time too. It’s madness if you haven’t started putting out the Spring/Summer merchandise for your type of store by March.

     I understand there are some types of retail stores where it would seem a bit more difficult to appeal to a seasonal change. I think of luggage stores or perhaps a “mom and pop” corner grocery store where customers are used to purchasing their staple food items. But let’s think about this for a moment. Is there room for even the least seasonal retailer to adapt to seasonal sales? I would suggest there is room and it may take a bit of getting out of a comfort zone. Let’s say you sell luggage and people are going to come to your store who travel at all times of the year. Is it possible for you to carry some items that may be more colorful to appeal to a summer traveler? Think about how much easier it would be to locate a unique or brightly colored suitcase if it is on an airport carousel. While some shoppers (such as I) might prefer a traditional dark colored carry- on bag or briefcase, there are those people who fancy a more whimsical style. A change of colors and patterns might draw in more customers especially with the right touch of advertising and product placement.

     Mom and Pop grocers, sure milk, eggs and bread may be your bread and butter (pun intended) but is there any reason you couldn’t put out a display of Igloo coolers, picnic grills, aluminum foil, six-packs of soft drinks or beer? How about a front of store display with these items, grilling aprons and advertising for specials on lunchmeats, steaks and hotdogs directing consumers to your cooler section? Sometimes we all get in ruts and we fail to look outside the box for new and creative ideas to keep a business fresh and improve sales.

     There are the stores out there that just seem to always maintain the same set up and merchandising year in and year out. I can think of a local hardware store I sometimes go to when I don’t feel like fighting the other shoppers at the national hardware chain stores. When I do go to this particular store I usually have to search a bit to find what I need, it isn’t super neat but everything seems to be where it has been for the past fifteen years I have shopped there. It does make me wonder if the owner is trying to reach out to new customers or worries about the competition from the big box stores. A few changes now and again could probably make an impact on sales but that is a choice that owner has to make. What kind of changes would I suggest? I would put out new signs to let customers know about any sales that are running. Place gardening tools and gloves, tillers and lawnmowers at the front of the store. If the store has electronic article surveillance towers, upgrade them so that advertising panels can be interchanged and catch customer’s attention as they walk in.

     Seasons change and retail stores should too, before the beginning of the next season. Take a look at a national clothing retailer the next time you walk into a store. It may be January and they will start putting out swimwear when you are still wearing a jacket. Smaller retailers can take a lesson from the large chain stores. I am not saying to become them, but there are some tips and tricks you can take away. March is here and now is the time to rebound from your winter season and spring into action by driving those summer sales.

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!


 

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).


     

It’s getting darker earlier: how to keep customers and employees safe

Now that fall is upon us it is getting darker earlier. These hours of darkness can bring unique challenges for retail owners. Have you ever considered that it is your responsibility to help keep customers and employees remain safe while they are on your property? It may make sense that you are responsible for employee safety but you are also obliged to help keep customers safe as well. This includes your parking lot and the exterior areas around the building. How do you do this? What do you have to protect against? Good questions and hopefully we can provide you with answers to those questions and suggestions to make your business safer.

     What is it that you need to protect against as the daylight hours become shorter?

  • The potential for robberies increases in the hours of darkness.
  • Slip/trip/fall accidents in the parking lot can increase when it is dark as hazards are more difficult to see.
  • Car break-ins can increase.
  • Working at night can have an impact on your employees.
  • The risk of violence can increase.

Planning for operating a store during extended hours of darkness can help prevent problems that could arise.  According to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) power point presentation, “Recommendations for Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in Late-Night Retail Establishments” one of the panels states”; “Late-night retail businesses such as convenient stores, liquor stores, and gasoline stations have experienced high homicides and assault rates”. The same power point on panel 5 goes on to mention the following as risk factors for late-night retail workers:

  • Exchange of money
  • Solo work and isolated work sites
  • Sale of alcohol
  • Poorly lit stores and parking lots
  • Lack of staff training in recognizing and managing escalating hostile and aggressive behavior

There are things store owners can do to mitigate the risks to their employees and patrons.

  • Inspect parking lots and sidewalks now for potential trip hazards. Have curbs painted yellow to make them fire lanes as well as making them brighter to reduce the chance someone trips on them. Paint parking stops or blocks a reflective white or yellow again to lower the risk of tripping.
  • Cracked or raised sidewalks should be repaired or reported to a landlord.
  • Check the parking lot light timers to ensure they turn on as it becomes dusk.
  • Inspect all parking lot lights and have burned out lamps replaced.
  • Add extra exterior building security lights.
  • If you have not installed them, have night vision security cameras set up to monitor the parking lot, sidewalks, entrances, and corners that may be out of view.
  • Install interior cameras and Public View monitors. These cameras should be at the front entrance and exits, cameras that capture activity at and around cash registers and a camera in a cash office that can see the safe and as much of the office as possible.
  • Have a cash drop at each register for $50 and $100 bills.
  • Keep register positioned away from customers so they cannot reach over the counter into the till.
  • Always have at least two people working in a store and never allow one person to close or open alone.
  • If you have two people working consider having an employee offer to watch a patron walk to their car when they leave. Patrons will appreciate it and it will make them feel safer.
  • If your credit machine accepts debit cards think about refusing cash back transactions after 6 pm. You won’t have to make as many trips to the safe to refill the register after dark.
  • Use a counterfeit bill detector for all $20, $50 and $100 bills.
  • Train each employee on how to recognize and de-escalate aggressive situations. This is also a good reason to have a second person working.
  • If you can only afford one employee at a time and your business is in a strip mall partner with a neighboring business to work together to provide mutual security/support at opening and closing.
  • Employees may get tired more easily as the daylight decreases. Be aware that it can lower their alertness while working and when they drive home. Encourage workers to be careful so they don’t hurt themselves or others.

Operating stores can be different when darkness comes along earlier. Taking the right precautions, being aware of potential issues and planning ahead can make that transition easier. Don’t take hours of darkness lightly.


Sensormatic & Loss Prevention Systems Join Forces

We are excited to announce our partnership with Johnson Controls/Sensormatic. Sensormatic is one of the oldest and largest Electronic Article Surveillance (EAS) manufactures in the world. Loss Prevention Systems has deep loss prevention and EAS experience.

We are offering the entire Sensormatic line of Acousto Magnetic (AM) products to our customers. We will still carry RF products such as hard tags, labels and high theft product protection. Acousto Magnetic systems by Sensormatic give us solutions to fix a number of issues that traditional RF cannot handle. This includes labels applied directly to metal and systems that can handle wider door widths.

Do you have a single doorway, double doorway or a mall entrance? Sensormatic can cover it. Tired of shoplifters taking merchandise into your restrooms and concealing it? We can fix that problem also. From an EAS standpoint, there is not much we cannot do. Challenge the Loss Prevention Systems team to design a system to fit your needs and budget.

Loss Prevention Systems’ choice of Sensormatic is also based on the quality of the systems. Sensormatic systems are extremely robust. They include features such as low power consumption, door frame and hidden systems that keep the Retailers’ storefront looking neat and clean while protecting your merchandise 24/7.

Pricing is also a factor. Sensormatic line of systems will fit a wide range of budgets depending on the features you select. We also have people counting, and data reporting. This gives the Retailer important intelligence on customer traffic and flow. We have seen many of our customer’s significantly reduce expenses in both payroll and operating costs by having this data. Store hours can be adjusted and you can adjust staffing to fit the real world.

Want more? How about having your Sensormatic EAS systems online and monitored at all times? This allows us to know if the system has been turned off or if it has maintenance or other issues. We then notify you. You no longer have to solely rely on your staff to discover that the system has an issue sometimes days or weeks later. By that time shoplifters have had a party on your dime.

On top of this Loss Prevention Systems now has a free shipping program for the purchase and installation of a Sensormatic system. One more way we are saving you money.

A typical Sensormatic system can be installed in one day. This minimizes the interruption in your store.

Of course, Loss Prevention Systems still provides free, live loss prevention training to our customers for the life of your EAS system. We will conduct any of our live sessions as often as you reasonably need them. Staff turnover? Promotions? Changes in product lines? Our training sessions include the following.  

     

We include so many other services that Loss Prevention Systems can be your one stop shop for loss prevention support. So experience our award-winning service and support. Our goal is to keep your hard earned money on your bottom line, not the shoplifters.


Lighten Your Load With Applicant Management Center

National retail chain stores often rely on a management team to handle all of the daily operations of a business. These positions vary from company to company but depending on the size and sales volume of that retailer there are different managers to oversee diverse functions. There may be soft lines and hardlines department managers, a freight manager, Human Resource Manager and a store manager. Some stores might only have a sales floor manager, freight manager, and a store manager who also functions as the human resources manager. For an independent business owner, these sub-managers might be a luxury that is not affordable to them. That means it is up to the store manager to oversee all store functions and if an employee calls out that may be one more job the manager fills for a day. This takes me back to an old saying I have heard, “Work smarter, not harder”. It is not possible for a store owner or a single manager to effectively perform all of the tasks associated with running a store every single day. Finding ways to lighten the load and improve efficiency can make life much better for a retail owner.

     One of the areas of business that can take up a significant portion of time is the hiring process and tracking all the paperwork that goes with it. From the Society for Human Resource Management (shrm.org) 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking some statistics related to hiring and recruiting that are pertinent to this topic:

  • 22% of organizations used automated prescreening to review job applicants’ resumes in 2016
  • The average time to fill a position was 36 days in 2016
  • The average cost- per- hire was $4,425 in 2016
  • Employees within their first year of employment accounted for 26% of all separations
  • Position responsible for recruiting applicants for nonexecutive openings: HR Generalist 48%, in-house recruiter 25%, Hiring Manager 16%, Third-Party recruiter/staffing agency 3%, Other 8%
  • Selection Techniques Used to Assess Candidates (non-exempt ( hourly) Nonmanagement), references 65%, phone screening 65%, one-on-one interview 68%, In-person screening 50%, structured interview 32%

As we look closer at these statistics it is important to note 89% of recruiting for nonexecutive openings is conducted by a Human Resources Manager, Hiring Manager or In-House Recruiter. Bigger retail stores may be able to afford a position to conduct this workload but in your case, that obligation falls to you. Now take that workload and consider that 26% of separations from your company are likely to happen within an employee’s first year AND it takes 36 days on average to fill that position. Over 1/12th of your year is tied up with extra work associated with an open position for just 1 vacancy. This is not taking into account the time you will spend training the new employee when you do get them hired.  In your hiring process, you are going to contact references, phone screen with an applicant, conduct a one-on-one interview and there may well be some type of structured interview. Don’t forget you will still be running the store as you go through this process. It only makes sense that an alternative resource has to be out there that can ease this burden.

      Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. offers just such a solution with the Applicant Management Center. This system allows you to post job ads and applicants can apply for them 24/7. Rather than having to comb through stacks of applications you have the ability to set up screening questions that will eliminate many unqualified applicants, saving you valuable time. Not only will unqualified candidates be weeded out of your hiring pool, you also cut down on the time you spend interviewing applicants who don’t meet your minimum job requirements. It is important to recognize that if you can get the right people on your team in the first place you are unlikely to lose them within that 1-year window. That means not spending time hiring, not spending $4,425 hiring and not spending hours training a new employee. There is a myriad of benefits when managers are using the Applicant Management System.

     One final thought to share. Turnover can have a dramatic impact on a business as can drug use and prior criminal history that often lead to employee theft issues and losses leading to turnover. The Applicant Management System provides the ability to initiate drug screening and background checks which helps managers protect their stores from undesirable employees. In turn, owners improve retail shrinkage, cash losses, store safety and profits. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. can lighten your workload and improve profits all with the help of the Applicant Management System.  Work smarter, not harder.


What is Shrink And What Does It Mean For Your Profit And Bottom Line?

 What is shrink? Obviously, that will depend on the context in which you are referencing it. It may be what happens when we wash a new pair of jeans in hot water. Maybe it is what happens to our household budget when our children get older and require more food, clothing, and school supplies. In retail, it has a different meaning altogether. Shrink is not a downsizing of a store or reduction of staff (although it can lead to those things if not addressed). Retail shrink is merchandise we cannot account for due to any number of reasons. It impacts the profit margin of a store and since those losses directly affect the retailer there are usually steps the store owner takes to try to offset those lost dollars. If not well thought out those measures the store owner takes could hurt the business further. There is a vicious circle that follows and can lead to a store closing down.

     In Retail Loss Prevention we generally identify four primary causes of shrink, shoplifting, employee theft, vendor shortage/fraud and administrative errors. According to the 2017 National Retail Security Survey, approximately 66.5% of shrink is attributable to shoplifting and employee theft combined. 21.3% of shrink is due to administrative and paperwork errors, 5.4% is related to vendor fraud or error and 6.8% was unknown (pg. 8). The same report states that the average retail shrink rate in the U.S. was 1.44% in 2017 (pg. 6). Since this is an average that means there are industry sectors that are higher and others that are a bit lower so where your store may fall can depend on what you sell.

     What mistakes do retailers make when trying to cover the profit losses from shrink? Often they increase prices on merchandise. Those price changes may be a few cents per item or a few dollars but no matter how small the increase regular customers notice those hikes. There comes a point when customer loyalty takes a backseat to customer’s budgets. No matter how minute you may feel a price increase is there is a threshold that customers will finally say enough is enough and they relent and shop at a big box retail store. Some store owners will make up for the lost revenue through reduced payrolls. This may include getting rid of full-time positions and making them part-time positions saving on benefit expenses. Employee hours may be reduced all around with the store owner picking up more of the workload themselves. The impact of this strategy is a blow to employee morale and loyalty. It can also lead to increased employee theft as those employees feel the financial pinch of the reduced hours and feel cheated. Reduced employee hours also means fewer people on the salesfloor providing customer service which results in more shoplifting, ergo more shrink. As you can see taking the wrong steps to address shrink can lead to a cycle that is hard to break and can lead to a store shut down.

     So if a retailer opts not to raise prices what is the resolution to solving the problem of shrink? Retailers cannot afford to continuously bear the costs of shrink. Assuming over 60% of a store’s shrink is incurred through theft then anti-theft measures are a logical starting point. Sensormatic security systems and tags play a critical role in theft prevention. They are proven to significantly cut into theft related shortage. They also help reduce a portion of administrative shortage. If it is tagged, merchandise overlooked in a shopping cart will activate an alarm and be paid for or returned to the store. Requiring vendors to check in and out of the store on a sign in sheet and making them talk to a manager about what they have done that day holds them accountable. Store managers should be doing weekly reviews of vendor credits to ensure they are not losing money for product removed from the store.

     Shrink can cut into your profit margin and if that isn’t bad enough addressing it improperly can make the situation for your store worse. Taking positive steps to address each of the areas where losses occur will improve shortage results. It will make you, your employees and your customers happier when your actions are directed towards the real culprits of shortage.

     


Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

I actually like and believe in all three of these things. When it comes to drugs they have to be the legal kind. All of us have seen the destruction that illegally used drugs cause. In a business environment, illegal drug use by an employee not only has an impact on their work performance but creates serious customer and legal issues for employers. An employee that is under the influence of any substance that influences their ability to do their job correctly or safely, will cause customers to question who they are doing business with.

If this employee drives for their employer and is involved in an accident, even if it is not their fault, then liability could come back to the company. That one is easy to understand. But what about the recent changes in the law regarding marijuana? Some States have relaxed or legalized its use. However, it is still against Federal Law… EVERYWHERE. I do not agree with these changes. Not because I am a former Law Enforcement Officer that has seen firsthand the impact on society but because it is simply wrong.

The biggest argument I hear is “well alcohol is legal. Marijuana is no different”. Sorry to say yes it is. The active ingredient in marijuana is THC. THC stays in the bloodstream for up to two weeks after it has been ingested. Alcohol leaves the bloodstream within hours of consumption. The person may not be high but the “drug” is still there.

Now that same person comes to work. They have not ingested any marijuana for let’s say a week. Now they are involved in a customer accident. This could be dropping something on a customer from a shelf, hurting a customer with the use of a forklift, pallet jack or motor vehicle, or any other poor judgment that results in injury. If it is discovered as a result of testimony, blood test…. that the employee had THC in their bloodstream….. Surprise, you as the business owner could now be liable.

As a Loss Prevention Manager, I was involved in an accidental death case in one of my stores. Picture a building materials type store. Lumber, hardware, carpet, nuts, bolts…. A forklift operator was moving two full bundles of lumber and had them up on the lift about ten feet off the ground. At that moment a man and his very young son walked underneath the load. One of the forks on the lift gave way and an entire load of lumber landed on them. It killed them both instantly. There was not a piece left of either of those human beings thicker than three inches.

When OSHA, Fire/Rescue, Law Enforcement and a whole bunch of other government folks arrived on the scene, it was quickly determined that there was a defect in the fork that broke. This defect occurred during the manufacturing process. That defect was not caught as it should have been. So liability rested squarely on the forklift manufacturer. However, as required by law, our employee was drug tested immediately. His test came back positive for THC/marijuana. This caused the liability to shift to my company. All because this employee had smoked marijuana the weekend before.

So you may be thinking this can’t happen to me. I own a small boutique, grocery store, clothing store….. Yes, it can and could happen at any time. Why risk it? The commonly accepted practice is an employment drug test. Screen out potential liability and poor performers. A drug test should be required as a part of the pre-employment process, no exceptions. It is a simple and painless process. Contact us today, we can set your drug screening program up, make it very cost effective and make it simple for you and your candidate. You can reach us toll-free at 1-866-914-2567.


Employee Theft And The Hiring Process

Are you hiring someone who has the tendency to steal from their employer?  Hiring new employees for the season and for permanent positions is a difficult task in and of itself. But do you consider employee theft in the hiring process?

With little additional effort, you can screen out candidates that are prone to, or even have an ambivalent attitude towards theft from your company. The folks that are ambivalent tend to be the ones that will look the other way while others, both internal and external, steal from you and will not tell you that they suspect or see theft occurring. The normal excuse they give themselves and you, if confronted after the fact, is “I did not want to get involved” or “I am not a rat”. Both of these are copouts. But what you need to consider is that you, the owner or manager have probably set the foundation for this attitude.

To keep employees from stealing from you, you must start at the very first step in the employment process. When someone applies for a job, they need to understand that you will check their criminal background. You should have a separate background check release document from your company’s application. That sets the beginning of theft prevention.

During the interview process are you asking questions about employee theft and the candidate’s attitude towards it? If not, you are missing out on a very simple step that will reveal much more than you expected. These are questions that you can and should be asking. Loss Prevention Systems offers to our customers live, online training that is FREE of charge about this very subject. The seminar is titled “Pre-employment hiring: What they don’t tell you will HURT you”. This training teaches you and your staff how to ask better questions regarding loss prevention areas. Do you want to find out more about not only the candidate’s involvement in and attitude about employee theft but also what they have stolen from previous employers and their use of illegal drugs? This session will teach you those techniques.

Next, when you make the offer of employment and conduct their orientation, are you explaining your policy and procedures regarding theft? Do you let them know that it is THEIR obligation to bring any suspicion or actual theft to your attention immediately? It is a job requirement. They are getting paid by you for a job you hired them for. This includes loyalty to you and the company. But if you do not discuss it, how can you expect them to do what you ask?

Do you have a theft policy document or handbook that they must read and then they sign an acknowledgment receipt that is placed in their HR file? Again, if you are a customer of Loss Prevention Systems, we will provide you with a draft LP handbook that you can modify to fit your company. It lets the new employee know that the only thing they may take from the company is the air in their lungs. It also helps them to understand what they are to do for suspected or witnessed theft. If you are a Retailer, it also covers shoplifting.

Your next step is to reinforce this message with all employees at company meetings. This can be as simple as asking questions. Ask for a show of hands to a question like “Have you ever worked at a company where someone was caught stealing?” follow up with “how did that make you feel?’ or “How would you feel if you found out that a co-worker was stealing from the company?”. Most of the time employees respond with a feeling of betrayal, disbelief, shock, anger… You should then expand on those feelings with a discussion. Instead of you “preaching”, let them express their thoughts. You should simply guide the conversation. Ask employees what they think should happen to someone who was caught stealing from the company. You are likely to hear harsh terms like jail, arrest, fired, shot at sunrise and more. But just as important, observe the employees that take a disinterested, joking or mild approach. If they themselves are stealing, they are more likely to use softer words such as “get in trouble, lose their jobs, disciplined…” That does not mean that everyone who reacts in a more mild fashion is stealing. That may simply be their personality or they are uncomfortable talking about conflict type situations. But this does give you more insight into their thinking. Employees that mock or make fun of the conversation should, in my experience, be watched closely.

This process shows everyone that you are not afraid to discuss the topic and are prone to take action if it does occur. It also shows employees that have or will think about stealing from you that other employees will not tolerate their actions.

Start this process now! Do not wait. You want a good, profitable selling season. Contact us if you have questions or need assistance.