If you’re like many people, sometime back in January (bloated from holiday cheer), you probably gave thought to “getting in shape” for the summer. You may have even signed up at a gym or purchased home exercise equipment. And like many people, now that summer has arrived, you lament all those months you never actually went to that gym or used that equipment. Loss prevention is a lot like dieting—we know we have an issue, we know the work involved, we really want to do better and we will absolutely start…right after the weekend.
There is another way that loss prevention is like dieting and it is a bigger problem than willpower. I call it “The quick fix”. We love a quick fix! Think of the number of people taking cholesterol medicine. Are they genetically inclined to high cholesterol? Some are- but most are just psychologically adverse to eating right and getting exercise. It is far easier to take a pill than to skip the fast-food. When it comes to exercising, what sells are the gimmicks that promise you can get fit in just 10 minutes a week, or by simply drinking the shake, or taking the pill that burns fat.
In truth, the only thing that really works is actually doing work. An hour at the gym, a thirty minute walk, a healthy aversion to simple carbs—these are the things that actually result in weight loss and being in shape. But we hate that…we want “The quick fix”. The same is mostly true for loss prevention. The goal is low shrink and less theft. The answer is the same answer it has always been…a program where we do the work- but many companies hate that. They want a simple pill or better yet the all encompassing database that will solve the shrink issue. Most of all, they want one answer…the one thing to fix.
If such a holy grail of shrink exists, I don’t know anyone who has found the one thing—we’ve narrowed it down to three. Shrink is never just one thing. It’s a little bit of shoplifting, a little bit more of internal theft, and several mistakes driven by lack of compliance and/or a lack of training. The “fix” is to build a solid program that is simple to execute and contains all the necessary components for success. The same way science has discovered that to build muscle, you don’t need a complicated routine at the gym. (Squats, push-ups and pull-ups get it done.) But that isn’t very exciting. No one wants to do the boring stuff- we all want to do the bizarre and exhausting cross-fit routine…well at least for a week or two.
Winning the loss prevention shrink battle isn’t about fancy programs, advanced databases, multi-million dollar camera systems, and even big data is little more than a reflection of the things you are doing and aren’t doing. Loss prevention is simple, just like getting into shape. It takes the willpower to be consistent and the commitment to doing the basic and often boring stuff that works. Train employees, provide awareness, audit for compliance, investigate theft, deter shoplifting. Nothing really sexy in that list, but the companies that do these things well…they always have the best shrink. The one’s who skip boring stuff like auditing for the more exciting they seldom can answer the “why did our shrink increase” question.