People steal. There's no surprise there, right?

Well, what are you (the owner/manager) going to do about it?

What's your first line of defense? Awareness.

Creating awareness about loss prevention is a major component to fight the war on shoplifting and internal theft. If you help your employees think more centrally around the concept of loss prevention, then thieves will notice and feel uncomfortable in your store or restaurant.

Awareness can even lead to creating a sense of ownership amongst employees too. You can create a mindset of "Hey, I don't want anyone stealing from my store. Shrink affects my bonuses," which creates a halo effect on others.

Here are 5 tips, plus a bonus tip, on how to create more awareness in your restaurant or retail store.

1. Challenge your employees to know the store stats. If you talk about loss prevention everyday with your employees, they will become more aware of what it is and how it affects business. What is your shrink percentage? What is your shrink goal? Where are the spots in the location where people are most likely to steal? What are recovery statements? Who is your Loss Prevention Manager? In what instance should they be called?

2. Make an LP informational bulletin board in the break room. Keep all the things employees should know here; shrink percentages, facts and information, success stories, incentives, a list of behaviors shoplifters typically exhibit, contests, the loss prevention hotline poster and numbers to call in case of an emergency.

3. Explain the importance of shrink and how it affects each employee. If shrink is too high, someone might not get enough hours they want or the raise they requested may be put on hold. A lot of things depend on the shrink percentage of the store or restaurant.

4. Create incentives/contests to encourage a lower shrink percentage. Sets goals and when you achieve them, reward the employees that made a difference. Nothing motivates people more than an incentive.

5. Role play. Sometimes employees can be aware, but when faced with a real life situation they freeze and don't react as well as they should have. This is where role playing comes in. During a controlled environment role play, have one employee ask another for an extra discount on top of what they're already getting. This give the employees to formulate a statement back to their peer. Ex. "No, I don't think that's allowed. You can always check with the manager to see when the next extra 10% off is though."

Bonus Tip: When you talk sales, talk loss prevention too. Maybe this is only a retail instance, but when coaching employees in the sales environment, coach them on loss prevention as well. This will prove that it's something equally as important as sales.

Ex. "Give me 3 examples of how you would sell this watch. Then give me 2 examples of how you would approach a potential shoplifter if you thought they were trying to steal it."

Again, employee awareness is key.

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