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Got Policies?

When it comes to protecting your business against loss there are areas that you want to have written, read and acknowledged policies by all employees. The lack of such policies can hurt you in the event a particular situation does occur. 

Over recent years, there have been legal court case decisions where loss prevention incidents not handled appropriately have cost businesses tens of thousands of dollars paid out to shoplifters, dishonest employees and others. Although these individuals may have committed a crime against a business, lacking policies or compliance to such policies was often the basis of the court’s decisions. 

The following is not an all inclusive list of policies and procedures, but rather those that should be part of a retail business (any segment including food serving industries). 

We recommend the following when you develop policies and procedures that involve actions against your employees. 

  • Consult with your human resources or legal support to ensure that policies and procedures are written appropriately for your business.
  • Each year have employees review and re-acknowledge your policies and procedures.

Code of Conduct: This policy should simply state that the company does not condone acts of theft or dishonesty, how these acts will be handled and the ramifications of such actions (prosecution, termination, restitution, etc.). A code of conduct should also include the duty of an employee to report theft incidents or suspected theft situations and that such reporting can be done so anonymously (do you have a tip-line?) and confidentially, without any retribution toward the reporting employee.

Shoplifting Apprehension Policy: This policy should include the company’s steps on how to detect, handle and resolve a shoplifting situation. Within this policy is most often found the Steps of Shoplifting Detection, how to handle a known shoplifting situation and most importantly, what not to do (such as run after a shoplifter) when trying to resolve a shoplifting situation. Retailers have lost millions of dollars due to wrongful apprehensions, injuries and even deaths of employees, suspected shoplifters and bystanders – Don’t let  the possible loss of merchandise cost you greatly.

Robbery Procedures: A robbery is a very unfortunate and sometimes dangerous situation. The best way of handling a robbery is for an employee to understand how they should act to get through the event without issue. Written policy and procedures on how to act or not act, along with proper awareness can be the difference of a robbery becoming a very serious and unfortunate event.

Employee Discount or Meal Policy: If you offer your employees any discounts in merchandise or free food, you want a written policy. This policy should clearly detail the discounts breaks, approved recipients of such discounts (immediate family, spouse, etc.) and any situations that the discount is not allowed (i.e. sale merchandise, gift cards, etc). Included in this policy should be the ramifications and outcomes of violating this policy.

Still not sure what you need to develop loss prevention policies and procedures? Our LPinaBox Awareness Program has the materials you need to help you understand the concepts of loss prevention. Check it out at www.lpinabox.com.

Common Errors Causing You Loss

The dictionary defines an error as something incorrectly done or a mistake. In business, an error can be defined as a contributor to loss. Understanding that not all losses are theft-related, here are some of the most common we have found throughout our experience. 

1. No written or updated policies and procedures.

Fact: Most errors are caused by the actions of your employees.

Reality: How can an employee be in a position to prevent errors if the company does not provide adequate instructions on how to handle business processes?

The lack of written policies and procedures, along with edits or updates will most certainly create an environment of “I didn’t know what to do?” Written policies provide the employee with the ability to reference what should be done. Don’t rely on verbal training – put it in writing.

2. Miscounting Merchandise and Goods

Fact: Counting is as simple as 1, 2, 3…

Reality: Miscounting easily occurs throughout your business enterprise from the initial receipt of merchandise (shipment, deliveries) through inventories, transaction handling and everything in between.

Employees should understand that it is not how quickly they complete a task, but how accurate the task is completed. Whether it be counting merchandise, preparing deposits or conducting any business activity, accuracy is more important than speed.

3. Damages and Waste

Fact: Damages are the most controllable error in your business.

Reality: They can be more damaging to your cost of goods sold than theft!

Once you own the inventory, proper care of that inventory belongs to your team. In the event an item is damaged you will suffer either the complete value or a fraction of the value, depending on the cause and your vendor relationship. More often than not, the value is a loss. This loss will immediately affect your costs of good sold (lost inventory) and your bottom line.

For those dealing with food and perishables, waste too is an immediate loss and increase to your costs. Handle inventory and product safely and accordingly – even the small stuff will add up!

4. Handling Point of Sale Transactions

Fact: A sale isn’t a sale until the money is in the bank!

Reality: Register errors can cost you in inventory and fees.

Errors involving the point of sale (register) will cause loss. These errors can be found in many transactions including check or credit card acceptance, deposit preparation or change back to customers. Handling voids, refunds, discounts and other sale transactions will cause errors that result in inventory, monetary or margin losses. Others may not cause inventory loss but increased bank or credit card fees, reduced margins or “paper” shortages.

We want to hear from you! What are some of the errors that you seen that caused a loss in your business? How did you correct it from happening again?

Should you talk to your employees about employee theft?

The number one method to preventing losses is deterrence. Employee education and awareness is the first step toward creating that deterrence. That means educating them on the various methods of theft, how theft occurs, the checks and balances you conduct to detect losses, and most importantly the consequences of stealing from your company (you do have a written policy regarding theft, yes?).

Policies different retailers adopted to prevent shoplifting:



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Last modified: Monday June 01, 2015.