Compliance inspections and audits are usually the first casualty to the holiday season. On the surface it makes sense that with higher traffic, a drive for sales, and the need for high transactional velocity we put aside anything that slows down the process. The conundrum is that we need a sharp focus on the time period that is often 40% of our sales year, but that large chunk also means protection of those profits is even more critical. If the seasons were piles of money, which would we protect with more diligence—the summer pile or the holiday pile?
Still it’s understandable that compliance performance during the holidays won’t be necessarily reflective of the overall yearly performance of a location—but maybe it should be. I won’t spend a lot of time trying to convince anyone to audit from November to January. It’s like trying to convince a teenage driver his or her “mad driving skills” doesn’t make him bullet proof. You just get a lot of agreement with very little translation into practice.
Fortunately, it is not an “all or none” proposition. For the retailer, restauranteur, and grocer there exists a very comfortable and effective middle ground—The Security Survey. Designed properly and with the proper goals and follow up, the Security Survey is a cost and time effective method to ensure a measure of visibility, focus, and profit protection. A Security Survey can gather critical information, it can identify potential loss issues, and most importantly it has such a low store intrusion factor it won’t upset store and district operators. The only real argument against the process is to proclaim any loss prevention presence is an encumbrance. An argument that will be hypocritical when the same folks request response to all those missing deposits.
The secret, of course, is the proper design. And proper design means the ability to recognize “what” things should conduct our snap-shot inspection. The list may start out fairly large, but since this is a surgical focus we must cut it back. Thirty to forty-five minutes is the optimum time period and ten to twenty questions are the optimum content quantity. The best part is that unlike a full audit that requires such specific attention to company process and company culture, Security Surveys are, by design fairly generic. That means benchmarking and borrowing from other companies works well and still helps to achieve the goal.
Here are some of the basic design rules for creation:
1. Forget the past: Keep the inspection period short. Our goal is to know what’s going on right now, not the performance six months ago. A week’s worth of refunds is as good as a month’s in this case.
2. Keep it high-level risk: Focus on the items that pose the most likely and most destructive forms of potential loss or theft. That means the cash, the refunds, the voids, the credit and debit card transactions.
3. Keep an Eye on Safety: Busy locations and high traffic is an invitation for accidents. Our inspections can discover immediate dangers in the environment that have the potential for worker’s comp and customer injury payouts.
4. Forget the long-term action plans: We have to concede that for eight or ten weeks each year, the operations are a little different and filled with more than a few exceptions. The exceptions in a Security Survey should be addressed for immediate correction, not long-term action plans. The things we are inspecting are simple and the solutions should be the same… “get these four deposits to the bank today, before they go missing.”
The benefits of Security Surveys far outweigh the ten or fifteen minutes of distraction the manager suffers over the result review. The length and ease means we can greatly increase store visibility, thus increasing the attention to loss prevention during the season. The surgical focus provides a great “here and now” look at the operations. The inspection items will help identify the kinds of problems we’d prefer to know about sooner or later. There is nothing worse than a January investigation of missing deposits from the first week of December.
LP Innovations uses Security Surveys as a core part of its loss prevention program and they have been invaluable in preventing seasonal store disasters. If you have questions on how to create one or the best content items, give us a call or send an email for a free discussion and advice on creating your own.
Authored by: Ray Esposito