Sadly, there are many employers who are not educated in loss prevention. This is especially true of those in the retail industry. This is why I felt it important to go over this topic and help retail employers see the light when it comes to helping keep their companies safe and secure. By no means is this information the end all be all of loss prevention. It is simply knowledge from my own personal information bank-or as I call it- my brain! I certainly hope it can be helpful to those of you who are loss prevention novices.
First of all, loss prevention is policy establishments and business practices that are in place to help prevent the loss of money or inventory. Having a specific program that is centered around this concept will help reduce opportunities that allow the losses to occur. Working to prevent employee theft is being proactive which a very smart idea. It is a smart idea because any time you experience loss the bottom line is that you are really losing profits. A prevention program makes your business much better. How staunch your policies are will depend on the size of your business and the type of merchandise you sell. Either way, loss prevention will make you less likely to experience loss in the first place.
There are two specific ways that you can experience loss. The first is internal employee theft. If a company losses five thousand dollars each year due to theft, the majority of the theft has occurred from the inside by employees. Theft may constitute the taking of money, merchandise or time. The other type of theft is external. While shoplifters fit into this category, employees can also be responsible for external theft. It is simple for an employee to collaborate with outside forces to steal merchandise from you without any fingers being pointed at them, so this is something you really must stay vigilant about.
Some businesses are fortunate in that they never (or rarely) have to implement their loss prevention policies. However, most are not and must deal with this reality at least once in their career. The key is to realize that you are at risk or already have an ongoing problem. However, unless you know what to look for, you may not know that you are at risk. Just like with an illness, employee theft has certain signs and symptoms. Familiarize yourself with these signs and symptoms to cut your losses and/or prevent them from occurring.
- Employee’s friends showing up during work hours or calling frequently.
- Sales that are consistently down when a particular person is working.
- An employee who has reported several instances of shoplifting when they were the only one to witness the supposed crime.
- Lost inventory without anyone reporting any instances of shoplifting or other unusual events.
- Noticing containers or hangers that are empty.
- Noticing inventory has disappeared without a trace.
- “Misplaced” receipts.
- Exit doors that are supposed to be locked by are somehow left open.
All of these things can be a tip off that you may have a problem with employee theft. If any of the above sounds familiar, take the following steps to prevent any further loss:
- Set rules about employees having visitors during work hours.
- Have alarms installed on the exit doors so you know if one has been unlocked without permission.
- Set up video surveillance cameras in high risk areas.
- If someone has to report a shoplifter, have a process in place. Ex. Employee 1 sees the crime being committed. They must call out to employee 2 to alert someone other than themselves to the crime.
- Do frequent audits.
- Keep a perfect inventory record.
- If you notice things or money missing when a certain person is working, do a quiet investigation into the employee to see if they are stealing or helping someone else steal.
With proper leadership, you can help stop loss prevention before things get out of hand. The above information is only a small amount of all there is. If you need further assistance, call in a professional loss prevention agent for more information.