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30
May

Eight Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

As someone who does a lot of public speaking, I often get questions from others about how they can work to improve their own skills.  There are volumes of books, training courses, and articles on this topic, but, in my mind, there is one thing that will help the most – do more of it!  Like many things, we can only get better by practicing and doing the skill.  Aristotle said, “We become just by performing just action, temperate by doing temperate actions, brave by doing brave action.”

The other key is to get feedback on your performance.  This is why I always recommend joining a local Toastmasters International group where you will have the opportunity to speak in front of a supportive crowd who will give you constructive feedback on what you did well and what you need to work on.  I’ve also put a link below to a quick article with some tips…

Eight Tips for Nervous Public Speakers

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30
May

Using EAS Pedestals for Advertising

Interesting article in Brandweek about the effectiveness of EAS pedestal ads. 

Security-pedestal media buys, which are plastered on the security screens in the fronts of stores, are more cost-efficient and reach more customers than shelf advertising, one advertising firm says.  Read the article…

I would not recommend basing your ROI for an EAS implementation significantly on this aspect, but it certainly warrants attention if you are going to go forward or having existing systems in place.

28
May

Loss Prevention in the U.K.

I’ve added a link to the Blogroll for a blog run by Phil Smith, Principle Consultant at Risk & Loss Consultancy Ltd., based in the United Kingdom.  I’ve also added a link on the links page for The Loss Prevention Company, Ltd., a consultancy based in London founded by a trusted colleague, Geoffrey Northcutt.

28
May

Human Resources in the Board Room?

As a follow-up to the “Why We Hate HR” post, I have put links below to two items.  The first, by Andrew Sobel writing in Talent Management Magazine, is geared towards the HR professional and prescribes the steps they should take to become a more integral part of the senior management team.  The second, by David McCann writing in CFO Magazine, is even more scathing than the original article I posted here last week.

As I pointed out previously, the point of posting these articles here on a blog related to retail loss prevention and assets protection is not to make fun of the HR group.  Rather, it is a cautionary tale to us on how senior executives often perceive staff functions with specialized expertise. 

HR: A Trusted Management Advisor

  

Corporations are leaving no stone unturned as they try to reduce expenses and eliminate all but the most essential activities. While it’s easy to get caught up in daily task execution during this time, talent managers would do well to focus on the most critical role they can play right now: being a trusted partner and counselor to senior management.

In fact, HR is in an ideal position to step up and assume this role. But how is this relationship built? How do talent managers go beyond their HR expert label and become a necessary and critical asset top management uses to shape the organization?  Read more…

Memo to CFOs: Don’t Trust HR

A professor says most human resources professionals are ill-equipped to carry out value-added workforce planning and transformation. Addressing a crowd of about 300 financial executives this morning, a professor of human resources soundly denounced the corporate HR profession for being mostly unable to provide analytics that are useful in making workforce decisions that build economic value.

Most companies today spend too little effort on attracting and retaining top strategic talent and too much on satisfying the rest of the employee base, asserted Rutgers University’s Richard Beatty, who spoke at a general session during the CFO Rising conference in Orlando. In fact, he claimed that typical human resources activities have no relevance to an organization’s success. “HR people try to perpetuate the idea that job satisfaction is critical,” Beatty said. “But there is no evidence that engaging employees impacts financial returns.”

28
May

Job Openings – Old Navy / Gap, Inc.

Old Navy is looking to hire (2) DLPM’s. One for the Cleveland market and one for Nashville. Multi unit experience is a must. A degree is preferred but not necessary. If you are qualified and interested, you can email your resume to Tanya Paterson, Search Specialist, at tanya_paterson@gap.com.

27
May

Job Opening – Barnes & Noble

I had a note from a contact at Barnes & Noble that they are looking for a Regional Loss Prevention Manager for the Midwest based in Chicago.  This position supports eleven field partners and 120 stores. The right candidate has a history of driving shrink results through leadership. They should also be operationally orientated, analytical and passionate about the business of LP.  The position comes with a company car and is bonus eligible.

26
May

U.S. Cracks Down on Corporate Bribes

 By DIONNE SEARCEY, Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department is increasing its prosecutions of alleged acts of foreign bribery by U.S. corporations, forcing them to take costly steps to defend against scrutiny.

The crackdown under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA — a post-Watergate law largely dormant for decades — now extends across five continents and penetrates entire industries, including energy and medical devices. Among the companies currently under Justice Department review: Sun Microsystems Inc. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, according to the companies’ disclosures.

The law prohibits U.S. companies from paying, or offering to pay, foreign-government officials or employees of state-owned companies to gain a business advantage. It covers nonmonetary gifts or offers in addition to cash payments, and is worded broadly enough that it’s spawning an army of consultants, some of whom once prosecuted bribery cases for the Justice Department, who offer to interpret the gray areas.

“When you have a law that can result in criminal sanctions and jail time and that you can violate without actually realizing you’re violating it, that’s terrifying,” said Alexandra Wrage, president of Trace International Inc., a Washington-based nonprofit specializing in antibribery compliance.

The gray areas of the law sometimes apply to actions — for example, the giving of seasonal gifts — that can be common in some countries. This has left corporations concerned about other practices, such as picking up the cost of trips or meals for foreign officials.

Read the full article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124329477230952689.html

26
May

Loss Prevention & Shortage: Cause and Effect?

During the recent economic slowdown, several of my friends have asked me the same basic question, “When retail sales are slow, do companies invest more in loss prevention because they need to protect every dollar of profit?” It might be easy to chuckle at their naiveté about the realities of the retail landscape. However, it is interesting, that my friends, who are not in the retail business, intuitively understand the cause and effect relationship between investing in loss prevention and shortage results.

There continues to be many companies where the senior executives seem content to live with higher than necessary shortage results as a “cost of doing business.” One must wonder why this would be the case. I can only come up with three possible reasons.

  1. We really don’t add value and investing in loss prevention does not have a cause and effect relationship to shortage results. I don’t believe many of us would want to subscribe to this theory.
  2. We do add value but senior retail executives are not a very bright bunch and are unable to see this cause and effect relationship that my friends are able to see clearly. This, too, seems to be an untenable premise (except, perhaps, in a few cases).
  3. We do add value but we have done a poor job, individually and collectively, at demonstrating the return on investment to our senior executive leadership in our organizations and our industry. This, in my opinion, is the likely suspect.

Of course, there are success stories and I can think of several companies over the past few years who have invested in loss prevention by bringing in quality senior loss prevention executives, giving them the mandate for change, funding the necessary resources, and, as a result, seen shortage reductions of 30%, even 40%, over their historical results. In fact, I just got off the phone with a Vice President of Loss Prevention who just received their latest round of inventory results. Over the past 2 years, they have been able to reduce shortage by over $40 million by investing in the loss prevention function. However, I can think of at least as many organizations that seem to be resigned to their fate when it comes to shortage and fail to appreciate the opportunity it represents to their bottom-line. They view shortage as something that is done to them by external forces that are beyond their control and have little faith in their own ability as an organization to mitigate or control this number.

How do we change that mindset?

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Originally published in RILA Report – Asset Protection – August 2008

24
May

Director of Assets Protection Arrested


An Omaha man who was in charge of preventing theft at Gordmans is suspected of stealing more than $136,000 from the Omaha-based chain.  Richard N. Palmer, 43, was arrested last week and charged with felony theft by deception. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

Palmer was director of asset protection at the company and had worked for Gordmans for 12 years. Gordmans officials said only that Palmer no longer was an employee. 

Full story at http://omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2798&u_sid=10635610

22
May

Job Openings – Dollar General

I had a note today from a contact at Dollar General about some job openings there.  This company is doing very well right now and has great leadership in the loss prevention function.  Here are the details…

Dollar General is seeking candidates for several field Loss Prevention positions to be located throughout Texas. These are regional level positions providing training and loss prevention support for approximately 120 stores. So, if you are you ready for an exciting career move, please visit our website at http://www.dollargeneral.com/and follow the path the ‘careers’ to apply. We’re a $10 billion fast-paced growth company with more than 8,000 stores in 35 states and growing by hundreds of stores yearly. We work in an energetic team atmosphere, and believe much of the success of our phenomenal growth is our commitment to developing our employees’ potential. We are committed to building our company with upbeat, talented, motivated persons who will move us toward our mission of “Serving Others.”

22
May

Why We Hate HR

In 2005, the magazine Fast Company ran the article “Why We Hate HR” which, as you can probably guess from the title, delivered a virulent critique of the human resources industry.  Of course, it generated much debate and rebuttal from the HR world.  I share this because I have often said that many of the issues facing the HR industry are similar to ours.  As a member of SHRM, I get their industry publication and many of the concerns and issues in that magazine are ones we are familiar with – lack of budget, no “seat at the table,” etc.  Perhaps it is because we are both staff functions that are important to the business but not the core of the business.

I share this article with you not to make fun of HR, but as a cautionary tale for our own industry and profession.  While some of the criticisms in the article are specific to HR, many ring true for us.  For instance, have you ever heard the loss prevention function referred to as a “necessary evil”?  Well, then check out this article…

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/97/open_hr.html

21
May

Is it Now Okay to Lie to Customers?

“As business leaders, how can we hope to train the next generation in appropriate business practices and ethics in the face of a nearly constant onslaught of dysfunctional and fraudulent business behavior?”

Check out this good article by Steve Tobak over at bnet.com about how current business practices related to advertising could be causing major harm to future generations’ perception about what is ethical.  We have probably all read statistics about how many hours of TV most kids watch by the time they reach high school or how many advertising messages they are exposed to each day.  If they are constantly being being bombarded with advertising claims that are clearly not truthful, what conclusions must they draw about the business world?

Here’s the link…http://blogs.bnet.com/ceo/?p=2231&tag=nl.e808

20
May

RILA Loss Prevention Show

For those of you who were not able to attend the RILA Loss Prevention Conference in Orlando at the beginning of May, you missed a very good week.  I have attended alot of shows, both as a presenter and an attendee, and there are few that have run as smoothly and professionally as this one.  Not only were the logistics well done, but I heard nothing but positive comments about the educational sessions.  Congratulations to the RILA staff, the RILA LP Advisory Council (chaired by Dennis Klein), the Operational Audit Subcomittee (chaired by Katina Terry), the Workplace Safety Subcomittee (chaired by Doug Sitzman), and the many presenters.

20
May

Stagnant EAS?

Over the past several months, as I have spoken with retail loss prevention executives across the spectrum of retail – specialty, big box, mall-based, strip center – I’ve had several bring up the issue of the current status of electronic article surveillance (EAS). In several cases, they have expressed, either directly or indirectly, a sense of disappointment with the stagnation around the current use of EAS. After spending millions of dollars investing in the technology over the past years, it is as if everyone is waiting for a new “magic bullet” or breakthrough advancement in the technology.

Perhaps that disappointment is what gave way to the hyper-excitement around the possibility of RFID at the item-level. Now that most have settled into the idea that RFID is not “just around the corner” for their organization, they are back to EAS, a relatively mature product. Improvements can certainly be made in EAS deployment. Source tagging in its various forms is still an area that some segments are pursuing, with many apparel retailers looking forward with anticipation to deploying hard, visible source tags (VST) in their supply chain. New types of tags and application methods are constantly being developed or improved. Yet, this sense of ennui remains.

Maybe we should consider the statement: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Is it possible that we are looking for the next big thing to take responsibility away from ourselves for better executing our current EAS program and investment? For instance, how many organizations know the following:

  • What is your EAS pick rate in the real-world (how often the EAS alarm goes off when a tag goes through the antenna)?
  • What is the response rate (how often an EAS alarm is responded to by and associate)?
  • What is the response time to an EAS alarm at your front-end (time between alarm and contact with customer)?
  • What is the quality of the response by an associate if they do respond? Do they check the merchandise to the receipt or follow your policies?
  • How many false alarms do you have in your store?
  • What is the cause of the false alarms?

Studies have shown that less than 10 percent to 15 percent of all EAS alarms are responded to by employees. We have probably all experienced this lack of response as consumers where we have seen EAS alarms ignored or where employees of the retail establishment simply wave on customers with a comment like, “Oh, just go on, this happens all of the time.”

It seems to me that the credibility of EAS systems and alarms are at stake and we are not doing our part in better managing this segment even though we have invested in the technology and have seen the benefit that it can bring about with shrinkage. But, we have become bored. In fact, our move towards source tagging has perhaps contributed to this phenomenon as we have shifted this responsibility for tagging to our manufacturers and, as a result, have less invested operationally in the execution of the program.

Do EAS providers have a role to play in improving the technology and providing analytic tools to assist? Of course they do. Should we keep our eye on the developments occurring with RFID and how it might impact our part of the business? Of course. But, first, we should hold up a mirror to our own efforts.

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Originally published in RILA Report – Asset Protection – July 2008

19
May

Industry Research

As a follow-up to Friday’s post about the need to understand theory as a foundation for what we do in practice, we thought it would be helpful to highlight a few organizations and individuals who are doing research work and studies in our industry.  We have listed a few below and added permanent links to them on our links page.

  • Loss Prevention Research Council (LPRC) – Led by Read Hayes, this group of retailers have come together to develop a research agenda on practical issues that retail LP executives make decisions on all the time, often without enough data.  The goal of this group is to conduct studies and research that inform the decision making process with data.
  • ECR Europe Workgroup on Shrinkage – With Colin Peacock from P&G as a strong advocate and Adrian Beck from University of Leicester as the leading researcher, this group has done some great work in exploring key issues around shortage and have had some great success stories in implementing their Shrinkage Roadmap in the real-world with outstanding results.  Some of the studies that have been produced under this group’s auspices can be found at the PCG Solutions website.
  • Dr. Richard Hollinger, University of Florida – Perhaps best known for producing the National Retail Security Survey (NRSS), Dr. Hollinger has been a leading voice for retail loss prevention and assets protection over the past twenty years.  In addition to the NRSS, Dick’s research on applied topics such as employee theft attitudes and dishonesty in the workplace has been the foundation for much of our thinking around these issues.
  • Martin Gill, Perpetuity Group – Martin has played a key role in producing original research in the area of security, policing, and loss prevention and is the chair of the ASIS Research Council.  Gill has published 13 books and over 100 articles on a wide range of subjects of interest to those of us in this field.
  • PCG Solutions, Inc. – We have conducted both informal surveys and more in-depth research into areas of interest to retail loss prevention.  Surveys on pre-employment screening and inventory counting practices in the retail sector can be found on our website.  We have just finished a white paper that will be published in the upcoming months in the ASIS CRISP series.  We are also about to release a case study, done in conjunction with Adrian Beck, on the importance of visual cues for deterrence when using EAS.
18
May

Archives Page Added

We’ve moved over the archives that we used to maintain on our corporate site to a new page here.  These are mainly links to news articles related to our industry from 2007 and 2008.  We checked to make sure all of the ones we moved over have current links as of today.

18
May

Closing time staffing?

I had a call today from a colleague who asked what stance retail organizations are taking in regard to closing time staff, especially in a small-box, specialty environment.  Historically, many companies have had firm policies in place that require at least two members of staff to be present for closing time hours due to concerns over potential risks.  This would include the risks of robbery either in the store or parking lot, assaults or muggings when staff leaves the store, and the risk of employee theft if only one employee is present at closing time and has free run of the store.

Of course, the current retail and economic situation is putting tremendous pressure on payroll budgets and it is not surprising that nighttime staffing is being closely scrutinized.  I’d be interested in what stance your organization has taken on this issue.  And, if any of you have gone to single coverage at closing, I’d welcome your insight as to whether you have seen more incidents of concern.  What steps have you taken to mitigate the risk?  If you want to weigh in, you can post a comment or, to share privately, email me at wpalmer@PCGsolutions.com.

15
May

Theory as Foundation?

What is the role, if any, for theory as a foundation for what we do in retail loss prevention?

First of all, let me point out that I’m not talking about theory in the sense of “Maybe if I do X, Y will occur…”  Merriam-Webster has defined this type of theory as “an unproved assumption.”  Instead, I’m talking about the other definitions that Webster’s offers up including “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena” or “the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.” 

Secondly, I’m not talking about theory for theory’s sake.  Rather, I’m asking the question as to whether there is any importance of understanding the underlying theory assumptions, often unconscious, that drive our decisions on how we approach our business.  Let me illustrate for clarity…

How many times have you heard the argument advanced that if a retail store does not prosecute shoplifters that “word will get out on the street” and that location will be viewed as an “easy mark” by the shoplifting community?  A related argument is that by prosecuting employees who are caught committing acts of dishonesty, you will deter other employees from stealing.  Or, how about the argument that by using a visible, EAS tag on your products, you will deter possible shoplifters from stealing that same product.

All of these arguments pre-suppose the effectiveness of deterrence theory, a well-researched topic.  Now, not to put you on the spot, but can you name the three underlying factors that determine whether deterrence will exist in a given situation?  In case you are having a problem coming up with all three, here they are:

  1. certainty
  2. severity
  3. celerity

Most of us focus on severity as the key issue.  “If the courts would only take shoplifting more seriously and impose greater sanctions or consequences on those who are caught, shoplifters would think twice about committing this crime” is how the thought process works.  However, deterrence theory tells us this is not enough.  In addition, a potentail shoplifter has to believe there is a fairly high degree of certainty that they will be:

  1. detected
  2. apprehended
  3. prosecuted

If not, the severity of punishment is a non-issue because they do not believe it is a foreseeable consequence of their action.  How confident are you of the certainty of apprehension and prosecution of shoplifters in your stores?  There are several studies that suggest that very few instances of shoplifting are actually detected.  Or, let’s use the EAS example…how certain are you that the tag will activate the alarm at the exit and that an employee will respond to that alarm? Industry studies suggest that less than 10% of EAS alarm activations result in a response, so where is the certainty or severity that deterrence so depends upon in those cases?

Celerity is just a fancy, alliterative word that means, in this context, “how quickly will punishment be meted out?” if the person is apprehended.  If my actions are not likely to result in punishment or consquence in the near-term, I’m less likely to be concerned with that consequence. It is unlikely that we have direct control over this aspect of deterrence theory as the court system works very slowly.

None of this commentary is necessarily meant to suggest that I dismiss, out-of-hand, the value of deterrence in what we do in our industry.  In fact, deterrence is a key component of what we do in our profession. 

Instead, this is a proxy discussion for the importance of understanding our underlying assumptions for why we do what we do.  Do you think that theory is should be important to the practioner?  Harvard Business Review thinks so.  They ran an article a couple of years ago titled “Why Hard-Nosed Managers Should Care About Management Theory.” So, this isn’t about being “academic” or “theoretical.”  This is about producing results in the real-world.

15
May

Police Response to Shoplifting

Retailers in the U.S. often compain about the lack of police response to shoplifting cases.  However, our problems seem to be small compared to lack of response in some European countries. According to the Dutch Retail Association, shopkeepers see little point in reporting incidents of shoplifting to the police. Retailers who want to report theft or other crimes in their store often have to wait for weeks before they can file a report and have to go through a tedious procedure with reams of complicated forms.

The Dutch Retail Association, says there is very little follow-up once a crime has been reported, which discourages retailers even further from involving the police. In fact, the association says, retailers are considering not informing the police at all, and have called on the government to take action in changing the procedure for reporting crime in the retail branch.

In the U.K., it is now common practice for police to merely “cite” a shoplifter with a civil fine, much like a traffic ticket here in the U.S.  In 2004, police were given the power to issue £80 (~$120 USD) fines instead of an arrest for first time offences and thefts of goods worth less than £200.  But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) says they encourage persistent shoplifters who know they will face “no serious sanction” if caught.

It seems that regardless of how we feel about it, there is small hope for retailers that increased response or sanction is on the horizon.

15
May

Job Opening – Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is looking for a District Loss Prevention Manager in Paducah, KY.  This postion oversees 10-15 locations.  If you are interested, send your resume to Silvana Soares at ssoares@walmart.com.

14
May

French court favors eBay in L’Oreal suit

In an on-going court battle in France, the court ruled that eBay cannot be held legally accountable for the sale of counterfeit L’Oreal products on its web site in France.  However, in a different case last year in France, a different court ruled that eBay had to pay damages to other luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Hermes saying that “the online auction site hadn’t done enough” to prevent the sale of counterfeit products on their web site.

To make matters more confusing, trials are going on across Europe with a decision in favor of eBay in Belgium last year but a decision in favor of L’Oreal in Germany.  Decisions are still pending in Spain and the U.K. 

To view the article from the Wall Street Journal, visit http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124221499153214867.html#articleTabs%3Darticle.

To view the article from the Financial Times, visit: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8f7a9832-401f-11de-9ced-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

14
May

NRSS 2008 Survey

Dick Hollinger sent me a note today to ask for help in getting responses in for the 2008 National Retail Security Survey.  Responses are running far behind last year’s study and the more respondents the study has, the more value it has for the industry.  I know most of you use the results of the survey in some form or another so please carve out some time to complete the questionnaire.  This year, the survey is posted at http://www.crim.ufl.edu/research/srp/Survey2008.pdf.  Once complete, it has directions for where to mail the completed survey.

14
May

Job Openings – TJ Maxx / Marshalls

TJX is looking for District Loss Prevention Investigators for St. Louis, Dallas, and San Antonio.  Here is the job description from a recent LinkedIn posting:

Responsibilities:

· Manage the internal theft program in a market of high-volume retail store locations.
· Utilize exception reports, surveillance, and employee tips to generate cases.
· Work with outside agencies i.e. police, courts, and legal to bring cases to resolution.
· Teach fact finding/investigation techniques to LP Associates.
· Partner with District/Store Management to build LP awareness.

At least 4 years as a LP investigator/LP manager in a retail environment.
Familiarity with progressive Loss Prevention and Shrink reduction strategies.
The proven ability to partner with District/Store Management to decrease shrink.
Formalized interview/interrogation training (Wicklander a plus).
Multi-store investigation experience a must.

They are NOT looking to relocate anyone for these openings.  For more info, see Jessica Miller’s post on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=3000982&gid=48484&trk=EML_anet_qa_ttle-cDhOon0JumNFomgJt7dBpSBA

14
May

Job Opening – Columbia Sportswear

Jeff McPike at Columbia Sportswear is currently looking for a Loss Prevention Field Manager.  This is from his posting on LinkedIn – The Loss Prevention Field Manager ensures an effective and proactive approach to protecting the company’s assets and reduce shrink through training, facilitation and partnership with Field Management. This position will be a home-office based, residing on the East Coast. Preferred location; Northeast region or Florida.

To apply, visit http://www.columbia.com/who/careers/careers.aspx.

14
May

Welcome and Introduction

Welcome to the “Retail Notes: Loss Prevention & Assets Protection” blog.  On this site, we will be posting articles, news, and comments primarily centered on the retail loss prevention and assets protection industry, although we certainly beg license to make wider ranging comments that have a bearing on our industry.  We aren’t trying to sell you anything, we aren’t here to cast stones around the industry, and you will determine whether this has enough value to you to continue to visit for regular updates.  I have personally been involved in the retail industry for 25 years and would have wished for no different path than the one I’ve been lucky enough to travel.  Thank you for visiting and we hope you’ll check back for regular updates!