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Is Your Deterrence Loud Enough?

Posted on 6/30/15 10:30 AM

The best way to avoid loss is to not experience any losses. That statement appears a matter of common sense and a proclamation of the obvious. And yet, we don’t always do a great job at asset protection. The core issue lies in both the types of actions taken and the efforts placed on the most successful strategy—deterrence.

To understand the short falls of deterrence, we must first separate it from processes meant to apprehend and those meant to protect. True deterrence doesn’t operate like a locked door and it’s not necessarily an investigative device such as a camera system or an exception based reporting software. In other words, a heavy steal gate doesn’t deter theft, it prevents theft by removing entry in the same way that our video recording doesn’t stop behavior, but helps us discover the individual responsible for the behavior. These devices are necessary and helpful, but they are limited in their benefits—a gate can only protect things behind it and a camera can only catch actions in front of it. Deterrence, when properly executed, however, operates within the individual and is not subject to the limits of physical space.

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Topics: employee awareness, educate, Internal Dishonesty, Internal Theft

The Language of Fear, Optimism, and Loss Prevention

Posted on 6/25/15 4:05 PM

Hope is mostly hard-wired into human nature. Even self-proclaimed pessimists can’t avoid its seductive voice. In the short-term or in evaluation of “near time” events we can call upon pragmatic rational to measure risk, but our 

observations of the future remain mired in optimism. True, there are those who see a sunburn in every sunny day, but for the majority the “bad” sleeps in the past and the “good” waits in the future.

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The One Thing More Damaging than Internal Theft

Posted on 6/17/15 10:00 AM

I’ve spent a couple of decades observing attitudes on employee theft. Obviously it is not a question of whether or not employers believe it to be right or wrong. Unanimously, people agree that stealing is a bad thing, that it is illegal, and that such behavior hurts both the company and its employees. In fact, most managers accept that internal theft is a considerably sized problem. Where the conversation gets a bit dicey is when we move from a general “they” steal to the more specific “your people steal.”

In seminars I’ll often share the statistics the one in ten employee engage in dishonesty and that these actions are estimated to account for nearly half of all company losses. At this point I ask the audience to answer a few questions based on their own perceptions of the problem. I ask them to write down what percentage of theft causes loss in the following categories:

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Topics: employee theft, Internal Dishonesty, Internal Theft, Honest Employees

Loss Prevention: What's in a Name?

Posted on 6/10/15 9:59 AM

Most of my career I have heard my profession referred to as the “Loss Prevention Industry” somewhat routinely by many of my peers and fellow retail loss prevention professionals. A very curious description that apparently reflects a need by some to inaccurately describe what we do. At some level you could argue to challenge this notion is splitting hairs and not worth the debate. I disagree, how we define ourselves creates perceptions on how others perceive our value and the role we play in the industry we serve.

If asked by a perfect stranger to describe what I do, my response is I am a retail professional providing loss prevention expertise to my employer. In the unlikely event they push for a more expansive description I would add; a retail generalist with a specific expertise in the application of loss prevention best practices across “all” retail functional areas to help reduce loss, protect assets and ultimately help my company improve profitability. With a clear understanding it is a vital support function to help directly and indirectly improve earnings. The key concept being an important strategic contributor to a retail organization by helping drive improved earnings through the applica

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Topics: Loss Prevention Professionals

MOS: Marked out of Stock or Missing out of Shrink?

Posted on 6/2/15 11:46 AM

Although the calculation of shrink is quite simple, the factors that determine your shrink calculation may not be. Damages, known thefts, defective merchandise, mismates, return to vendors and items ‘marked out of stock’ (MOS) could be creating some “black holes” in your shrink percentage.

The MOS concept is fairly straight forward and used by most retailers. An item that cannot be sold because it is damaged for example, is documented as such allowing the merchants to replenish that item onto the sales floor. This affords the retailer the opportunity to replace the non-saleable item as opposed to not having that item available until the next physical inventory cycle.

The “black hole” as it relates to the MOS concept is

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Topics: employee theft

Loss Prevention Isn't Sales Prevention

Posted on 5/19/15 12:04 PM

Over the years we’ve often heard Loss Prevention referred to as Sales Prevention.  This is usually in reference to merchandise protection and the different views of what that entails. On the one hand, the merchant needs the product visible and touchable in order to sell the product. On the other hand, loss prevention wants to ensure that the product cannot be stolen or damaged so it can be sold.  Which is the right course of action?

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Topics: employee awareness, loss prevention technology, BlueTracs

Is Your Loss Prevention Program Going On Vacation?

Posted on 5/12/15 10:00 AM

You made your plans, executed your programs, perhaps survived inventory and maybe the spring line launch or the influx of Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Prom and Graduation diners (for you restaurant folks) or shoppers (for our friends in grocery). Many in the organization have worked hard and tirelessly to meet the goals of the first half. And now as the summer kicks in, those much welcomed vacations mean we can kick back.

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Topics: loss prevention development

Expectations Are a Funny Thing

Posted on 5/5/15 10:30 AM

Expectations are a funny thing. Often they are completely reasonable, such as with the rules of the road. You expect that everyone will stop at the red light and go on the green…and speed up on that yellow. Other times our expectations can be a little bit “off.”  Does anyone really believe that a “miracle” weight loss pill is the “secret the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know”? As a matter of fact, yes. Millions of people spend billions of dollars on such “secrets” each year in the belief that chemistry can replace hard work. 


Expectations, however, are an important feature of the human psychology. They are mental “leaps of faith” that allow for a mostly smooth functioning daily life. If we had no expectation that people would obey traffic signals, there would be a lot more chaos on the road. If we didn’t form expectations, the future would be a dark, faceless place filled with uncertainty. In many ways, expectations drive behavior. When we “expect” a result, we begin to act in a manner that promotes that outcome. Problems only arise when expectations are either not realistic or when two people doing the same thing each have expectations for a different outcome. There is, of course, a business application for this, but let me first provide a personal illustration.

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Topics: loss prevention, loss prevention programs, career development, Consulting, Audits

Why You Need Alerts, Not Alarms

Posted on 4/28/15 11:25 AM

I’ve been discussing the changing loss prevention landscape for a while. If I were to draw a picture that landscape would look much like an overgrown, barren field. This is not to present a negative, hopeless picture of the profession’s future, but rather to suggest that we cannot ignore the changing environment and simply “hope” that the days of old will return. Too many factors suggest that retail has struggled to transform for the past several years and that those who survive will be a different organism. 

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Topics: training and awareness, employee awareness, Audits, Investigations, Target Store Programs

Manage the Conditions or the Conditions will Manage

Posted on 4/22/15 1:00 PM

Winston Churchill said, “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we must do what is required.” It is a common and frustrating problem in business: to do our best, to work hard, to put in the effort and the hours, and to still not meet with success. At the core of the issue is a simple misunderstanding, a small misalignment in focus that places the greatest of our resources on a reactive instead of proactive track. In short, efforts are placed in reaction to the managing conditions rather than on the process of managing the conditions.

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Topics: loss prevention

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