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. 

What can a Loss Prevention System do for you?

Loss prevention technology along with the proper personnel training will allow a retail store to reduce loss, improve customer service and provide the data necessary to access up to minute inventory information in the store.

A loss prevention system is a preventable measure retail stores need to adopt to prevent the losses that plague the retail industry. A loss prevention system along with trained personnel can be a deterrent to shoplifting, vendor and employee theft that can save the retail store thousands of dollars a month.

A loss prevention system can protect the merchandise in the store while protecting customers and the employees as well. Incidents, where violence and sometimes deaths occur, can be avoided with the proper systems, training, and the continuous effort to ensure the safety of the employees and customers alike.

A loss prevention system can allow the employees and manager of a store to focus and ensure customers have a good experience shopping at their store. Good customer experience can translate to continuous business, and great customer satisfaction has been linked to less shoplifting in the retail industry.

If you are the owner of several retail stores, a loss prevention system can be adapted to each store’s unique layout and needs while providing the same information you need to prevent shoplifting or to take the necessary measures to prevent it.

A loss prevention system is an investment a retail store cannot do without, but along with an investment in a loss prevention system, trained personnel plays an important role in making sure the system can do what it is supposed to do. Data from the loss prevention system cannot go unchecked, and it cannot be ignored.

Employees have to be trained and knowledgeable of the stores’ policies and procedures regarding shoplifting to ensure an efficient and quick response if shoplifting occurs in the store. Violence can and must be avoided at all costs.

There’s research out there that clearly indicates the cost versus benefits of having a loss prevention system in place.  Profits in a business can be slim, losing them to shoplifting, employee or vendor theft can be detrimental to any business.

Post Holiday Retail Blues

 

Did your sales meet, exceed or fall short of your expectations? Regardless of how they turned out it is likely they could have been better when you factor in your inventory shrinkage. Shoplifters, employee theft and paperwork errors all create additional loss that drain away some of your profits. What strikes me is that these losses are like adding insult to injury. You ordered, received, put the merchandise out and paid your vendor for it. On top of that you have your expenses, payroll, rent, utilities and more.

After all that someone, a shoplifter, comes into YOUR store with the intent to steal from you. They do not care if it hurts you, your staff and your family. They simply do not care about that. It is ALL ABOUT THEM. And on top of that it just keeps going on year after year.

But, shoplifting is no different than any other business problem. You can fix it the same way by simply paying attention to it and attacking it head on. The problem that most retailers face with shoplifting is the feeling of despair because you are not sure what you can or cannot do. What is legal? The Police seem to have little interest in helping you. The times you have caught a shoplifter have met with mixed results. The shoplifter seemed to get nothing but a slap on the wrist, if that.

So how do you attack the scourge of shoplifting? From a business’ standpoint is actually fairly simple. Cast aside the concerns about prosecution with the criminal or civil courts. We should be concerned about what could happen to us legally but the reality is you want a program to keep shoplifting from happening at all. You must get into a prevention mindset.

A prevention mindset or loss PREVENTION is exactly that we want to prevent the losses from occurring at all. Because when a shoplifter attacks us it costs us money, even if they are not successful. Not just the loss of merchandise but our time and expenses. 

The really great thing about a prevention mindset is that it costs us little in the big picture and actually is in alignment with our sales goals. Yes, you do need an anti-shoplifting system like a Sensormatic system but that is only fifty percent of the equation. 

Step one is to change the way you approach customers. Customer service is king here. Shoppers love attention. They are there for a little retail therapy. They are interested in purchasing something from you and favor the attention that your staff can shower on them. Answer their questions, help them make a choice or just let the customer know that you appreciate their being there.

On the other hand shoplifters HATE everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Shoplifters need privacy even if just for a moment to steal from you. They do not want any attention, assistance or help. They are there to steal your goods and YOU ARE IN THEIR WAY. So what should you do? Remember this, good customers want your attention at various levels depending on the customer’s wants and needs. Any sales floor staff that have any experience at all know when to turn customer service up or down. 

It starts the moment that the customer walks in the door. Every person that enters your store must be greeted. A greeting should include brief eye contact, a smile and a “welcome to (my store) how can I help you?” Very reliable studies have proven over and over again that impulse shoplifters which make up approximately fifty percent of the average retailers shoplifting losses will most likely not steal from you in that visit if they are greeted. This is a win-win situation. Good customers love the attention shoplifters hate it. However, you cannot stop there. Amateur and professional shoplifters will not be deterred by that alone. They require additional customer service. Approaching them to help, suggest additional items they may want to consider not only increases your sales to that customer but it puts the shoplifter on notice that they have been seen and are being observed. The shoplifter will try to shun that help. So what do you do in that case? Step back and still be in range to “help”. Many shoplifters will simply leave. If this is consistent then the shoplifter will go elsewhere to steal from a retailer that is not prepared.

So what is the second part? You must have a Sensormatic system. As much as we would like, we do not have unlimited payroll. We cannot be everywhere at once. Shoplifters look for or even create conditions where the customer to staff ratio is out of whack. That is where the Sensormatic system comes in. Merchandise that is higher value or frequently stolen is protected with a label or a hard tag. If the thief tries to steal it, the Sensormatic system at the customer doors alarms. Your merchandise is protected 24/7.

The combination of these two creates a pretty impenetrable wall that will reduce most of your shoplifting losses and at the same time increase your sales. 

And yes, Loss Prevention Systems can help you with both. As the former Director of Loss Prevention for several major companies I have worked my way up in the trenches from personally apprehending shoplifters all the way to starting and running LP programs for those companies. When you purchase your genuine Sensormatic system from us you get the training and support to fix your shoplifting problems.

Contact us today or call 1-866-914-2567 to find out more about our Sensormatic systems and getting your staff trained up to go on the offense. 

Sensormatic Systems Value

We just came back from a trip to Sensormatic Systems Head-Quarters in Boca Raton, Florida. What a fascinating, interesting and eye-opening experience. As anti-shoplifting systems are concerned, we clearly left with the knowledge that Sensormatic is the top of the line for value and quality. I have been in the field of Loss Prevention for over 35 years (I hate saying that, it makes me feel …. old). I rose to the top in a number of fine retail companies as the Director of Loss Prevention. I have had my own company now for many years. So, I have bought these systems as a Director and I now have the privilege of being a premier nationwide Sensormatic Dealer. For many years we sold another top brand. But it is very clear to me why Sensormatic is the world-wide leader. Let me throw out a few conclusions for you. 

Sensormatic invests a huge amount of money into testing. Not just making sure that systems ring the bell and flash the light. Testing is extensive. Research laboratories are used by Sensormatic Engineers to take something from an idea to a finished product. It starts with a team in design. They look at style and how it will impact the Retailer and their customers. Ergonomics are tested thoroughly. It is important that a retail employee can use a hand-held device for long periods of time with minimal fatigue. Drop tests are performed with high speed cameras to determine if devices will properly survive a fall with minimal damage and a low risk to the people around it. Stress tests are conducted on antenna systems to see how they will react to being bent until broken. Do the systems splinter? Does the electronics spark? 

Sensormatic is a massive company that operates on every continent, okay, well maybe not Antarctica.  Sensormatic Systems is part of Johnson Controls. And if you have not been hiding under a rock all your life know that Johnson Controls is one of the largest companies in the world with a serious reputation for quality and service in many fields. The Sensormatic division has that behind it. 

That is in addition to the testing of the antenna systems for detection of tags and labels. Sensormatic systems are tested and certified safe by the main testing agencies in the various countries all over the world. For example, in the United States Sensormatic systems are UL Certified among others. 

Sensormatic security systems are not going to be the cheapest. But it is like anything else you get what you pay for. However, the value runs deeper than just the highest quality commercial grade equipment that is made to last a very long time. These Acousto Magnetic (AM) systems perform much better than the competition for the price and much better than Radio Frequency (RF) systems. RF systems are very prone to false or phantom (no one nearby the system) alarms. Acousto Magnetic does not have that problem. This technology operates on a different frequency that is less prone to issues. Because of that we can easily get an 8 foot isle width. The very best RF can do is 6 feet.  

Acousto Magnetic technology has been around for over fifty years. It is proven and stable. Sensormatic brand hard tags and labels are very robust. The hard tags have clean, well “welded” seams that will not snag clothing. The genuine Sensormatic labels outperform any knock offs in both range and deactivation. Sensormatic security system deactivation performs at a very high level. When your cash/wrap associate kills the labels, it stays dead.  

So, the real question now is this: Are you going to go through all of the coming up year and again lose money, watching it walk out the door with shoplifters? Or are you going to fix the problem once and for all? Loss Prevention Systems’ proven process will significantly reduce your losses? All you have left to do now is contact us. 

How Does Your Leadership Style Impact Your Store?

Leadership. It varies from person to person and company to company. As a business owner how you lead your team impacts the overall health and prosperity of your store. Does your team work for you and follow direction out of a feeling of obligation or fear? Do your employees do what they are told to do because of a concern that failing to do so could result in the loss of their job? If this is the feeling of the store associates they may not be doing more than the minimum to get their jobs done. This affects customer service and how employees interact with patrons. Poor service results in poor sales and inefficiency in operations. Leadership is as important as customer service and I would argue the two go hand in hand. I cannot think of a customer service driven business where the delivery of customer service thrived when the managers were loud, bossy or came across as distant.  

     Personally I have attempted to incorporate in my own management style a mix of a couple leadership influences. One is advocated by John Maxwell. The first book of his I read was, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”. In his book he lays out what he describes as 21 principles that apply to leaders. There were a couple of his points that I made a conscious effort to apply (some were already an integral part of who I am) when I was leading my Loss Prevention team, my freight unload/ stocking team and as a Manager on Duty. Two of the characteristics Mr. Maxwell lists, “The Law of Solid Ground” and “The Law of Empowerment” are dimensions I believe can make a major shift in how a store team functions. The first idea is that people have to trust their leader. As a leader do you follow through on commitments to your team? Do you treat every person equally and fairly and do you provide honest feedback even when it may be difficult? The second is that strong leaders are not afraid to give power to others. As you empower your team to make decisions you build their trust in you and you are developing them into leaders. This means you train your team, set expectations and as they are learning, you correct and provide recognition to them.  

     Another leadership style I embrace is servant leadership. This manager is the leader who leads by the example he/she sets. It is also a manager who invests in the development of others. I have incorporated this in the course of my careers. Rather than ask a team member to clean up after a child has been sick in the store I have done it myself. As a freight team manager I frequently came in on a day off to help my team unload a truck and push freight. It is the willingness of the leader to be seen doing the unpleasant tasks alongside the rest of the team. A 70 foot trailer gets awfully hot and humid in the south during the summer. When your team sees you willing to get in that trailer first and rotate others out to avoid exhaustion they are willing to work harder to get the tasks done. Servant leadership does not mean supervision does not take place or that discipline is not occurring. It only means that the manager/supervisor attempts to be empathetic to situations where discipline may be required. These leaders do not allow themselves to be doormats but do look at individual circumstances when the situation warrants it. Think about how an employee is likely to respond to this manager as opposed to the heavy-handed supervisor who gives orders and barks directions.  

     Leadership styles directly influence the way a business operates and how employees function on the job. Yes, you can be the owner and expect workers to do what you tell them to do, but it won’t foster a happy workforce. A leader who cares about the staff helps in their development and empowers them to make decisions will get far better results than the other leader. As customer service improves, productivity improves and the atmosphere of the building is one where shoppers enjoy spending time. It also creates a customer-focused climate where sales associates are actively engaging clients and that leads to a reduction in theft. Happy employees are also less likely to steal and that can impact up to 30% of where shortage traditionally takes place. 

     Evaluate your leadership style. Are you leading the way YOU would want to be led and are there adjustments you can make that can enhance nearly every aspect of your business? Leadership determines how successful your store can be. 

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. 


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.