The COVID-19 pandemic brought an increase in crime alongside economic uncertainty, and retailers are still grappling with the effects today.
According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2021 National Retail Survey, more than two-thirds of retailers said the pandemic increased risks for their organization, with workplace violence (61%) and organized retail crime (57%) topping the list.
These days more than ever, establishing proactive measures is key, from new technology to advanced training efforts and community engagement.
Training Is Key
Larry Carroll, vice president of asset protection for Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s, which operates 2,400-plus stores in 17 states, has been working in loss prevention for more than 30 years. When he joined Casey’s a year and a half ago, he was tasked with implementing the retailer’s first formalized asset protection program.
It all starts with employee training, he said. And it leads to the guest experience.
“You not only have to have a good training program,” Carroll explained, “but it has to be one that’s engaging. … We’re doing on-site training with team members, and that’s happening every day in our organization. It has quite a good effect upon team members when they can see something in action.”
Casey’s is also making sure that team members understand the ‘why’ behind the chain’s actions.
“Why are we training this way? And why do we do things this way? Our philosophy is, once they understand the ‘why,’ we get better engagement, and you get a top-notch guest experience out of that,” he said.
Security expert Sean Sportun sees training as vital to successful loss prevention and security, too. Sportun’s spent about 18 years in the convenience store world, 15 of those with Circle K, leading the company’s Central Canada Loss Prevention Department.
At Circle K, he worked to redevelop the employee training program: “made it very hands on, used videos to our advantage … made it more of a robust training mechanism than just, ‘here’s what happens in case of a robbery or a theft,” he explained.
But Sportun’s most known for his proactive, community-centric loss prevention initiatives, like the now-famous positive ticketing and mural programs.
Today’s approach must be proactive, Carroll agreed. It’s vital to be in tune with things happening in the world — and in your communities.
“If asset protection folks are not proactively understanding the communities that they’re in, they’re behind the eight ball,” he said. “You have to have your hand on the pulse of everything that’s happening out there; when you think it’s not relevant now, at some point it becomes relevant to your organization.”