School’s Out – Time To Get Ready For School: Tips To Prepare for a Successful Back To School Season

Summertime is here and now is the time for children to rejoice and shout for glee as most are finishing up their school year. Put away the pens and paper and lunchboxes and prepare to enjoy the warm, sunny days. No Mr. and Ms. Retailer, not YOU, the children. The moment the schools let out is the moment you should be preparing to roll out the merchandise for the next school year. Wait too long and you will be a step or two behind your competition.

Certainly, most children will not be anxious to go school shopping so soon after starting their vacations but we, the dads and moms out here, are always looking for special sales and deals that will save us a few bucks. Education may be free but all of the accessories are not. Think about what we parents are purchasing to send the kids off to school. We are asked to provide crayons, pencils, pens, glue, and paper. Lunchboxes, backpacks (wait, regular or see-through?), binders and notecards also fill our school supply lists. From there schools and grades may have varying requirements. The retailer who is going to be top of the class is the one who will anticipate the needs of the pupils and parents and prepares accordingly.

What are some of those things that you can do to get the head start that will drive sales for your business?

  • If you aren’t keeping old school supply lists filed away, start doing so. This will give you a good idea of what teachers will probably ask parents to provide the coming year. The schools will probably not make lists for the coming year available until July so knowing last year’s information gains you some advantage.
  • Advertise. Use social media and in-store flyers as cost-effective means of getting the word out to customers. You may also want to check on the price of a radio spot to air a short commercial. If you only rely on posting flyers and banners in the store you are limiting your advertising to those customers already shopping with you. You need to spread the message to bring in additional shoppers.
  • Create displays near the front of the store that focuses on school-related supplies that complement each other. For example, create an endcap with binders, loose-leaf paper, pencils, pens, crayons, compasses, and protractors. If your store is geared to clothing then displays for children’s clothing should be on focal points. Regardless of what your store specializes in, order a one-time shipment of some lunchboxes and food storage containers for sandwiches, chips, dressings/sauces. Parents are conscientious of rising school lunch prices and reusable containers appeal to both the cost concerned and environmentally focused families.
  • In the process of creating the displays don’t forget about merchandise protection. Use electronic article surveillance labels and hard tags on everything. Don’t lose sight of the fact that those displays will also attract the attention of shoplifters and they will steal merchandise that isn’t secure. Small and expensive items will be especially tempting.
  • Begin clearance pricing some summer products earlier to free up floor space for back to school related merchandise.
  • An easy to overlook opportunity is to keep your check lanes full of impulse buy goods. Snacks and drinks are top items but finding cool gadgets and pens that may interest students and adults are great opportunities for a few extra dollars.
  • Don’t forget about add-on sale items. Calculators tend to be popular and they need batteries. Peghook your calculators, keeping your high-end TI-83’s, TI-84’s, etc. in Alpha Keeper boxes to make them available to customers while protecting them from theft. Add the corresponding AA and AAA batteries on additional rows of peg hooks and deter theft by using Auto Peg Tags. Speaking of batteries it would also be a good idea to place battery chargers and rechargeable batteries in this type of display. Again, expense minded and green-minded patrons will find something to appeal to them here.

It is not always easy to think outside the box when anticipating the needs of school students especially if your store specializes in one area but it can be done. Be creative and it can pay dividends.

A final thought on back to school sales opportunities. Some retailers offer special deals to teachers (who present official credentials). Not only does this help your profit line it is a huge boon for teachers who often use their own money for classroom supplies. You can develop a new loyal customer base with such an offer. Make preparations early for the return to the classroom and you will demonstrate you have learned your lesson well.


Memorial Day Sales With A Different Twist 

Holiday sales events and promotions are intended to boost retail sales. The obvious big event is the Christmas holiday season which seems to begin in October for many retailers. The event carries into January when merchandise goes clearance as retailers prepare for the next holiday event and the beginning of the Spring sales lines.  During the remainder of the year, retailers also take advantage of other holidays by appealing to customers. These events just are not as extravagant in terms of time or advertising.  Clothing stores conduct promotions at Easter to sell dresses, suits and related accessories. Grocery stores and discount retailers run special deals on candy, eggs, toys, and baskets. The 4th of July sales may be geared towards parties, cookouts, and summer themed goods like bathing suits. The sales don’t necessarily have anything to do with the holiday being celebrated they simply entice customers to come in for the low prices. Below are a few ads I found online for previous Memorial Day sales to illustrate my point:

  • A furniture store: $1 Down and 60 months no interest
  • A Home Improvement store: 10% – 30% Off Major Appliances $396 or more
  • A Car Dealership: Memorial Day 100 Sale – Payments as low as $100/month
  • A Grocery Store: Big Three Day Sale

Many of the ads feature red, white and blueprint as well as stars and stripes in attempts to appeal to the patriotism of potential shoppers. I understand the need for merchants to do everything they can to increase sales. Retail is competitive and in order to stay in business owners must take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

     What I would like to suggest is that retailers look more closely at the holiday they are running promotional campaigns for. Try to see if there is some way to honor the holiday, specifically Memorial Day. I am suggesting that if a retailer is holding a Memorial Day sale they take the opportunity to honor the fallen soldiers for whom the day is remembering. This is no easy undertaking. I have seen restaurants that have attempted to recognize the sacrifices of the fallen with discounts and free meals for military veterans. Despite the good intentions, they get grief from some people (I assume they are veterans) who chastise them for not recognizing the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. As a veteran, I appreciate the effort shown and think that the griping is misplaced. There are few ways they can recognize fallen heroes but a meal or discount is the form of appreciation they can offer.

     What can a retailer do then to promote sales and keep to the spirit of the Memorial Day holiday? I would like to offer the following ideas:

  • Offer a portion of each transaction to a non-profit agency that provides assistance to the widows and children of veterans who have fallen in combat. Just a few of the groups that help such families include:

Fallen Patriot Fund

Faces of Valor USA

Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund

These are just three organizations that provide such assistance and there are many more out there.

  • While it has been the source of some contention you could consider offering a discount of 10% or greater to service members or veterans who can show a military ID or a copy of a DD 214 form (a document that shows a veteran has served).
  • Consider setting up a display for Memorial Day, often called a Fallen Soldier Table, a White Table or a Missing Man Table. The effort will not go unnoticed by those who have served or the family members of fallen soldiers. The displays are not difficult to prepare
  • If taking a portion of a day’s sales is not in your budget, a donation can or collection jar with a designated charitable organization listed is an appropriate alternative.
  • Finally, invite a veteran’s group such as the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) to hand out poppies for a donation at your store. 

The VFW uses the money collected to provide financial assistance in maintaining state and national veteran’s rehabilitation and service programs and partially supports the VFW National Home for Children.

The ideas are certainly not all-inclusive and you may find some other source of recognition of the sacrifices made by our fallen heroes. The point is that you honor the day and what it represents as you still run your sales and specials.  Remember those who have made it possible for you to operate your business in a free country.

Employee Training

The scary shoplifting cases we hear and see on TV, or on newspapers in the United States, are becoming too commonplace to rendered us shocked. 

Shoplifting has always been a problem for stores across the globe, but now, people are losing their lives because we put more value on a bag of cookies than a human’s life. The incidents that are happening now concerning shoplifting should make us ponder whether the reactions, lives lost and the way our employees conduct themselves during a shoplifting incident merits those responses.

We should not forget that Shoplifting is a crime and that as an owner of a retail store your livelihood depends on the profits that you can gain by being a responsible owner. But, we cannot forget that we are dealing with human lives as well. 

If the price of a bag of cookies has the same value to you as a shop owner than a human life, then deterrents to prevent shoplifting are probably of no interest to you. But, if you believe that prevention to these crimes is the beginning of solving a major social issue in this country, then maybe prevention methods and other solutions are likely to be of interest to you as an owner.

  1. Training  — We have read more than once about the death of an accused shoplifter in a store.  Authorities are called to the business when the shoplifting incident has gone out of hands and the resulting confrontation has led to the death of the accused shoplifter. Now, what?  Lawyers, police departments and customers are involved, and the incident has become a national news piece.  Providing training to your employees to respond appropriately to a shoplifting incident has proven to be an investment that you will not regret and lives that will not be lost.
  2. CCTV cameras, prevention systems, and facial recognition software are some of the preventable shoplifting measures you can use to prevent, deter and fight shoplifting in your stores.  These are some of the investments that apart from your employees will become invaluable to you and pay for themselves in the short run.
  3. Inventory — If you know what you are selling, what is being stolen, and what are some of the items that are more enticing for shoplifters-because of the resale value or ease of trading — you may be able to use more of your resources to protect those aisles or move them to a safer place.  Being aware of what is happening in your store is instrumental in the prevention of shoplifting.
  4. Employees that care what is happening in your store is an issue that is too important to ignore.  Studies have shown that happy employees make great employees and can boost the morale of the people that work with them.  Your responsibility as an owner begins by rewarding your employees – By increasing their salary, offering incentives, and/or offering praise-your business can gain the caring you need to protect your store.
  5. Hiring the right people for your store begins by using the tools at your disposal that can make a difference in your hiring.  Background checks are the first step in ensuring you have the right people in place.

The rewards of paying for your employees’ training can be seen almost immediately.  There is no reason why the investment should be put elsewhere when employee ’s training has been shown to be a great and continues asset for the business owner.

Cashiers Stealing?!?!? Yes They Do! From You Also!

Recently, I conducted an employee theft investigation for a client. I want to share some of the findings from that investigation in the hopes that you can use it to review your own potential for losses.

A Cashier had befriended a frequent customer. This Retailer sells merchandise to Contractors. The customer in question had an outstanding credit on their account of a few hundred dollars. As they went through the Point Of Sale (POS/cash register) the Cashier looked up and then applied the credit to the current sale. This is normal practice for this particular Retailer. The customer then said to the Cashier “if you have more of those, I will take them”. So the Cashier looked up some other credits, from other customers that were quite aged and never used. She found that she was able to reassign the credit to this customer and applied another credit to their current purchase.

As you can imagine this became a regular occurrence. However, no one caught on. This went on for some time. It was not discovered until a recent credit was used and raised a red flag. The CFO began an investigation and revealed that there had been thousands of dollars stolen this way. The POS activity is recorded with video cameras but the full extent could not be confirmed because the video recorder hard drive did not have the capacity for more than about three days of video.

I was asked to investigate. After review of the evidence and information, I interviewed the Cashier. She is a 21-year-old single mother of 3. She has no property, car or house. Her Mother brings her back and forth to work. An Aunt watches the children.

The first thing I do when I talk to an employee under investigation is what is called a Behavioral Analysis Interview (BAI). A BAI tells me two things: first, if the person is involved in the loss (not if they did it or not) and second what they do when they lie. Some refer to this as body language. It is a comparison of verbal and non-verbal responses to a structured set of questions. Once I have both of these pieces in place, I am in control of the conversation. If they lie to me I know it. I should add that I have conducted over 2300 of these interviews/interrogations.

I then switched to interrogation mode. An interrogation is a structured conversation. My voice stays level and calm. There are no threats, promises, abuse, bright lights, rubber hoses….. (no, you can’t use your antique thumb screw collection). After a while, she “broke” and confessed to what she did. She told me that she had been doing this for 10 months totaling over $11,000. The customer was paying her off outside of work. I then went through the evidence which up to this point is never shown to a subject. She confirmed what we had. She then incorporated her admissions into a written statement.

After reviewing the facts with the Senior Management of the company, I was instructed to contact the Police. Officers responded and took her into custody. She was charged with felonies both theft and embezzlement. Needless to say, she was terminated at that time. The company will decide at a later point whether to file a civil suit against her or not. You may be asking yourself right now “why would the company waste time/money filing a civil suit against someone that has no assets?” There are actually very good reasons to do this. In most cases, it is about ensuring that everyone else understands what will happen if someone steals from YOUR business.

You should ask these questions about your operation:

  • Does your POS system allow a Cashier to reassign customer credits without Manager approval and signature?
  • Do all customer returns require a Manager to review and sign off at the time of the return (customer & merchandise present)?
  • Are all credits, returns, voids, and no-sales reviewed at end of the day by a Manager?
  • Are any discrepancies reviewed with the Cashier that day or the next day to gain an explanation? Is corrective action taken right away if the Cashier is not following policy/procedure?
  • Is someone else then reviewing what the store turned in? Managers can be involved in theft also.
  • How much video can your DVR hold? Hard drive space is cheap. You should have at least the last sixty to ninety days of activity. You do record Cashier activity….Right?
  • Do you REALLY know your employees? Does their lifestyle fit their circumstances? Do they live above their means? Are they struggling to survive? I teach this in my live Employee Theft Seminar (in-person or webinar).

Employee theft occurs every day. It happens at your business also, whether or not you see it is up to you. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Be proactive to PREVENT losses. If you need help, contact us. Loss Prevention is what we specialize in!

Employee Theft Cases: Should You Prosecute Or Not?”

 You may be fortunate and have never had to address a problem of an employee stealing from your store. Be in business long enough and chances are you will have to confront the issue one day. As a small or medium-sized retail owner or manager you probably won’t have the benefit of a Loss Prevention Department to investigate suspected dishonest employees. That means it will be up to you or a company such as Loss prevention Systems Inc. which specializes in theft and shortage reduction to identify and catch the thief or thieves. Once you catch the employee who has chosen to steal from your business, be it cash or merchandise, what will you do with him or her?

It seems like it should be an easy question to answer for someone like myself who has spent many years in the Loss Prevention field catching criminals like this. The reality is it is not such a cut and dry question for many people. There are pros and cons as to whether a dishonest employee should be prosecuted when caught. This article is meant to give you the perspective from both sides so that you will be prepared to make an informed decision should the situation ever arise for you.

The pro’s for prosecuting a dishonest employee who has been caught stealing:

  • A clear message is sent to the employee and anyone working in your store that dishonest activity will not be tolerated.
  • It can serve as a deterrent to other employees who may otherwise consider stealing from your store.
  • An employee who is prosecuted and found to be guilty will have a criminal record. If this person attempts to work for any company that conducts pre-employment background checks it is likely their record will be found. It prevents the person from perpetrating crimes against other retailers.
  • A court can order restitution to be paid back to the store. This is not just the amount that was stolen but often includes additional money for the time and effort required of the victim to resolve the issue.

As you can see the list is not extremely long but it does serve practical purposes. But what about the other side of this dilemma?

There is a case that can be made for not terminating an employee who has stolen from their employer. These cons may be something you have not previously considered:

  • The most compelling reason not to prosecute a worker who has been caught stealing is that it does mean they will have a criminal record and this has a direct impact on their ability to gain employment. If you send someone to jail and they struggle to find a new job afterward you may not receive restitution even if the court ordered.
  • The expense associated with prosecuting a case. Having an employee charged with theft means the store owner or manager will have to appear in court to testify against the former worker. There is also the chance that a lawyer for the defendant could request a continuance and then you have to return to court at a later date. Some employers would prefer not having to go through all of the steps required by the judicial system.
  • You may be able to get a promissory note from the person more easily if they know they will not be prosecuted (remember though if a promissory note or restitution is not ordered through a court you may still not see any money).
  • Extenuating circumstances. You may know of recent hardships this employee started going through or have compassion for them because they are a single parent trying to raise their child. In certain instances, the employee has also been a long-time friend or family member.

The decision of whether or not to prosecute an employee you have caught stealing is entirely up to you. There is no right or wrong choice since there are legitimate points of view on both sides of the argument.

A final thought on the subject. If you find you are wavering on the issue of prosecution talk to the prosecutor’s office for your area. You may find that there is a way to prosecute a case and the person can be offered a way to clear their record so they can still seek employment. In some instances, there is something called pre-trial intervention (or an equivalent).  In these cases, a first-time offender pleads guilty and is offered classes and community service. Once complete their record is expunged so that a background check will not find a record. Failure to complete the requirements and the record stays. It is a good alternative to address both sides of the issue.

What Is A Reasonable Request Of An Employee Not On The Clock?

In a recent article published in LPM Insider, “Security Footage Sinks Employee Lawsuit Targeting Employee Bag Checks” by Garrett Seivold, Feb 7, 2018, they discussed a lawsuit brought against Nike by an employee who complained that he was being required to have package checks done when he was off the clock. His argument was that he was not being compensated for the time he is delayed. For the time being Nike has not been found to be excessive in its demands. They were able to demonstrate that employees were only being stopped for an average of 18 seconds for an inspection. This is hardly excessive by any measure. However, courts have a tendency to be inconsistent or a higher court may overturn a lower court decision. While one court may uphold the decision in favor of Nike there is no guarantee this will be true should a similar lawsuit be brought against other retailers.

This case brings up some interesting questions for retailers. No one should ever work off the clock (unless of course the employee is classified as “exempt” in which case there is no time clock per se) but what constitutes reasonable requests? Can an employer “ask” employees to bring in a shopping cart from the parking lot if they are coming to work or returning from a break? It seems like an innocuous request. It helps the store keep the parking lot clear of hazards and saves the time of sending someone out to gather buggies and the employee is already on the way in. The problem in this situation is that the suggestion may not be perceived as a suggestion. The request is coming from a person in authority so there could be the sense that the request is a requirement and if it is not done, will the staff member get in trouble or be perceived as a non-team player? This type of request has been made of employees and does fall into a gray area. To prevent it from becoming a problem it is probably best to err on the side of caution and not do it.

Is it reasonable to ask a closing employee(s) to clock out and wait to exit the building with the closing manager who still has to set the alarm system for the store? Again, the process of setting the alarm may only take an extra minute but having been a closing manager I have had alarm panels that won’t set properly due to a faulty alarm sensor. Those take time to clear or shunt so the rest of the system can be set. How much time is reasonable? There may not be a clear answer.

Last but certainly not least what about delays due to electronic article surveillance alarm activations? Unlike a package check at the end of the shift in which a quick peek is all that is required to look for obvious unpaid merchandise, an electronic article surveillance alarm requires more attention. Something is in the possession of the person and that has to be resolved. This also means more time will be required for inspecting receipts and items the person has in their possession. Until the cause for the alarm is determined there is reasonable cause for a delay but should that employee be paid for the time? What if the cause for the alarm is due to faulty equipment that did not de-tune a Checkpoint tag? What if the cause is due to cashier error and the failure to remove a hard tag at the time of purchase? Would any of these factors shift a court decision in favor of an employee suing for the same reasons?

It appears for the time being that courts will allow reasonable time demands from employees for things that impact the security and safety of a store. What makes one requirement reasonable while another is not could become problematic. Conduct package checks and ask your closing employees to wait a minute to enable the group to leave together for safety reasons. Consider making the expectation clear and why you are doing it in a release form signed by the employee during the hiring process. If you still have concerns then manually adjust timecards to reflect the additional time. At least the employees will know they are being compensated for that 18-second bag check.    

Preventing Shoplifting and Retail Shrink

Many small and big chain businesses across the country are fed up with the amount they lose due to shoplifting and employee theft.  The solutions are seemingly unavailable for these businesses and they are teaming up with local police departments to address this issue.

The Chico Police Department, The Chico Chamber of commerce and the Chico Business Association are teaming up in an effort to prevent shoplifting in their community.  This is not the only joint effort, many other states’ police departments and communities are getting together to form a coalition to find a solution to shoplifting. 

Shoplifting puts an additional strain on these businesses that in some cases are already having difficulty staying afloat and the losses incurred due to this crime make it an impossible business to sustain.

One the many ways they lose to shoplifting is to organized retail theft that involves many individuals and can cost a store thousands of dollars in a single day.  Home Improvements stores targeted by individuals can damage the bottom line of these stores even though they are big retail chains that can offset the cost due to shoplifting better than the small business owner.

In some states, theft legislation has put many business owners scratching their heads. The losses they incurred due to shoplifting, they see as a direct consequence to the legislation government officials passed in their states.  Preventive measures are not enough, youth programs to prevent shoplifting and violent crimes are not enough for these businesses because they do not see it happening soon enough for the well being of their stores.

What are some other alternatives to prevent shoplifting?

  1. Training – Trained personnel can make a big difference in your store. Recent reports in the UK have shown a dramatic increase in violent incidents from the previous year due to shoplifting.  The difference between a trained employee and one that is not can be the difference between life and death
  2. Shoplifting prevention systems – If you do not have one and rely solely on your employees, the losses your store is suffering may be staggering.  A shoplifting prevention system is a necessity for a retail business, and the amount invested in such system may be the best investment you can make for the success of your store.
  3. Software that works together with the loss prevention system and the trained personnel in your store are pivotal to the success of your retail business.  It is a process that needs all the parts to work together to be successful and to achieve its purpose.

Shoplifting is a crime that affects society in general, and the prevention of such crime seems to be the only alternative retail businesses have. Prevention includes training your personnel, investing in a loss prevention system and software that can help you mitigate the losses due to this crime.  Those three preventive measures cannot work if your employees are not engaged and are not willing to work with you in the prevention of this crime.  Happiness in the workplace is important but if you are dealing with disgruntled employees, preventing shoplifting may be very hard to achieve.  Talk to your employees and find out if you need to address that issue first and foremost.

Valentine’s Day and Shoplifting

Some of the most stolen items in stores in the United States are not surprising.  From Infant formula to razors, people are stealing these items to sell them for quick cash or because they are shoplifters that are dedicated to doing this crime. Valentine’s Day is approaching, and some of the items that seem to be gifted during this day are among the most commonly stolen items in the United States.  A shoplifter will steal any time of the year, whether the opportunity presents itself or not, or whether it’s a holiday or a weekday.  As a store manager or employee of a store, greeting and treating a customer politely can gain you a customer, and deter a shoplifter from stealing from your store.  Customer service has been proven time and again to be a great deterrent to shoplifters, and cannot hurt to be polite and competent with your regular customers.

Here are the ten most commonly stolen items in the United States:

1. Alcohol – It is not surprising that alcohol is one of the most sought items to steal.

2. Makeup– small items that are accessible on the shelves  and that can be concealed with very little work, makeup is one of the hot items to steal every day of the year, not only during the holidays

3. Fashion accessories -including creams, sunglasses, belts, and scarfs can easily be concealed and carried away between jackets or other loose fitting clothing

4. Mobile Accessories– From chargers to cases and everything you need for your smartphones and Ipads are some of the items many shoplifters can steal and that are easily sold elsewhere for a profit.

5. Beauty and Hygiene items but especially razors are one of the top items shoplifters seem to prefer to steal.

6. Lingerie – February 14th. is just two weeks away, and believe it or not lingerie seems to be very popular to give and receive during this sweet holiday.  If you are a retail store and sell Valentine’s day items, prepare your employees for the shoplifting that may occur.

7. Meat – Red meat is not good for our health, but apparently shoplifters like to steal meat from supermarkets and is one of the most commonly stolen items today

8. Baby Formula– One of the most stolen items today is baby formula. Shoplifting baby formula and then selling for a profit seems to be the way shoplifters prefer to do this and stores across the country seem to be feeling the pinch

9. Chocolate – For Valentine’s Day, chocolate is a favorite for many people.  Keeping a lookout for this item can probably reduce your losses a bit this February and throughout the year.

10. Over the counter drugs– With the price tags of some of these over the counter medications, it is not surprising many people are choosing to steal them instead.


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.


Store Safety Impacts Profits: Keep Your Store Safe During The Winter Months

Accidents can be costly to businesses. In fact, according to the OSHA website, “It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion dollars a week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone. Direct costs include workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses and costs for legal services.”

This does not take into consideration expenditures on general liability claims made by customers against businesses for accidents. The impact of a customer claim can be significant as well and according to “The Hartford Reports: More Than 40% Of Small Businesses Will Experience A Claim In The Next 10 Years,” March 30, 2015, the average cost of a customer injury or damage claim is $30,000 while a customer slip and fall incident is $20,000. A struck by object claim not identified as being specific to a customer or employee is listed at an average cost of $10,000. Consider then that the risk of these accidents taking place during the winter months increases significantly. What steps can you take to reduce the possibility you may have to pay out on a claim, especially during the winter months?

Slips and Falls

Slips and falls are not uncommon all year round, however, winter increases the chances of a slip on icy sidewalks and parking lots. Additionally, people will track ice and snow into the building leaving puddles of water that contribute to slip accidents. It is necessary for store employees to be diligent in placing wet floor signs near entrances and drying those areas too. Allowing standing water to remain because “people just keep tracking it in” is not an excuse that will hold water in an accident settlement case (pun intended). It is worth investing in wet area or all weather mats for the front doors to aid in the drying of shoes as customers enter the building. Have umbrella bags available for wet umbrellas. Bure sure to have deicers and anti-icers on hand for unexpected snow and ice storms to help keep sidewalks and curbs safe for patrons and employees. Stores located in traditionally warmer climates must be even more diligent because ice and snow are not as common; finding shovels and proper equipment when that rare snow or ice storm strikes can be a difficult task. Hardware stores run out of necessary items quickly as people without the tools come in at the sudden threat of storms.

Strains and Sprains

You or one of your staff may go outside to shovel snow from your sidewalks. Be careful! Not only is there the danger of being exposed to the cold too long, there is also a chance of a strain injury resulting from the shoveling of snow and ice. In an article in titled, “Shoveling Snow Injures Thousands Each Year,” Jan 20, 2011, by Kelli Miller, the author points out that shoveling sends on average 11,000 adults and children to the hospital each year. She continues in her article, “The American Journal of Emergency Medicine details the most common health hazards associated with shoveling snow. Snow shoveling can lead to bad backs, broken bones, head injuries and even deadly heart problems.” Carefully watch those you may send out to shovel and rotate them in and out. Look for signs of excessive stress or pain and if necessary contact a local EMS station.

Parking Lots

Ensure your employees are safe if you send them outside to collect shopping carts or clear snow from parking spaces. Have orange or yellow reflective safety vests on hand and require those working outside to wear them. Moving vehicles in a parking lot may not stop quickly enough on the icy pavement if they don’t see the employee in time. The safety vest provides additional visibility to help alert drivers. While it should go without saying make sure weather appropriate clothing such as jackets, gloves and even scarfs are available for employees to help them avoid frostbite or other cold-weather ailments.


Don’t overlook the risk of ice falling from a rooftop. Too much weight from accumulated snow and ice or a slight increase in temperatures may result in ice and snow sliding off an overhang or roof. Be sure to monitor for such hazards and take proactive measures to clear potential problems before they result in an injury.

Accidents can happen anytime but winter offers unique challenges. Be pro-active and make sure you and your managers are doing all you can to make your employees and customers safe when they visit the store to work or shop.