Retail business security: Risks and threats

We talk a lot about cybersecurity, but if you own a brick-and-mortar business it's important to also understand the in-person risks and threats you may face.

Retail security has always been a big challenge. Lately it seems like retailers of all kinds are experiencing an increase in robberies, smash and grabs, and internal thefts. Stephanie Martz, chief administrative officer and general counsel with the National Retail Federation, said “smash-and-grab thefts have gradually increased over the past year and a half, starting with drugstores and spreading to department stores and high-end retailers.“ 

Ben Dugan from the National Coalition of Law Enforcement and Retailers, said that “violent events at retailers connected to organized retail crime have doubled in the last two years and it has been reported that the average theft is around $2,000 of product a minute and the average thief can visit up to a dozen stores a day!”

>> RELATED: Is your website secure?

There are several kinds of theft that retailers need to be aware of including theft from customers, usually in the form of shoplifting; internal theft from employees; armed robberies; and smash and grabs. I’m going to review these types and offer some suggestions that retailers can use to help protect themselves including new technology in access control, point of sale integration and door monitoring.

Shoplifting – This age-old type of theft is a huge issue for retailers. Shoplifting ranges from actual cash taken from registers to products being taken out of the store. Voided or invalid transactions are also a method of shoplifting. Installing cameras at the point-of-sale can help you to verify transactions. These cameras can also deter employee theft. Updating computers and technology to catch excessive numbers of voided transactions can also help. 

Theft and armed robberies - Nighttime presents a huge opportunity for this type of crime and theft. Smaller stores are often vulnerable to armed robbery, especially liquor and convenience stores, because they typically have cash on hand and less sophisticated security systems. You can help prevent this by utilizing door monitoring and having strong access controls that alert you to a door being opened. Upgrading your security and surveillance systems and training your employees to give the robbers what they want in the event of an incident can help as well. Also, train your employees to spot anyone who keeps coming in without purchasing or who may appear to be “casing” the place. Have employees greet them, as this is a big deterrent. Thieves do not want to be recognized.

>> RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff

Back door theft -This is a big risk area. Employees taking breaks, intentionally leaving the door open, sneaking items out the door, or sneaking in a helper can all contribute to possible thefts. The solution is to utilize video to monitor every door. This can be integrated into a system that alerts you to when a door is opened. You can set alerts to your schedule, so you always know when the door is opened and for how long.

Smash and grab - This type of theft has been on the increase recently. It is a very scary theft for retailers. The best way to help prevent these robberies is to use high-resolution video cameras that can record activities inside stores. If you have a stand-alone retail location, also use cameras in parking lots to record cars and to read license plate numbers. Even if your store is in a safe location, you are still vulnerable to smash and grab thefts. Some retailers are utilizing trained police dogs to sniff out weapons that may be hidden in backpacks. etc.

While there is no way to prevent falling victim to a retail theft, being aware and investing in a security assessment, good surveillance equipment and training employees can go a long way to deterring a theft and to keeping your employees and your customers safe.

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

 
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  • Next up: Do I Need a Strategic Plan? Who Cares?
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  • Do I Need a Strategic Plan? Who Cares?

    A strategic plan doesn't need to be overwhelming or scary. Read on as we review basic terminology and components of a plan and how it can help your business—and you.

     

    The answer to these questions depends on how you define a strategic plan and how you will use it.

    As owners and leaders of smaller enterprises, time and money are at a premium—there is never enough to do everything we believe we should be doing. Too many priorities create too much stress. We want more time for ourselves and our families. 

    Is creating and documenting a strategic plan just another task, or a way to help reduce stress, free up time, focus on what we do best, align employees and stakeholders, and help our businesses run more smoothly?

    You deserve all of this. A well-documented, communicated, and managed strategic plan can help you get there.

    Before we explore the question of “Do you need a strategic plan,” full disclaimer: I love strategic planning. I find it exciting. The only thing more fun than creating and documenting a strategic plan is gaining alignment around expectations, executing it, and communicating progress.

    I am a fan because I have seen strategic plans in action—helping leaders align teams, communicate to boards of directors, and feel the satisfaction of laying out and meeting measurable goals. I have seen chaotic change turn into manageable change.

    Strategic plans provide business leaders with the structure to execute in a well-thought-out and disciplined way. But they don't do that by sitting on the shelf.

    Strategic Plan Definition: Our Common Language

    Strategic planning can mean something different to everyone. Let’s set a common definition of what we are talking about.

    There are many popular frameworks and definitions that accompany strategic plans, including EOS Vision/Traction Organizer, The One-Page Business Plan, The One-Page Plan, etc. The frameworks are similar but differ in terminology. I will do my best to describe the components in a way to cover the various terminologies, so we are speaking the same language.

    Strategic Plan Components:

    Core Values: How we should/shouldn’t behave; our beliefs
    Purpose: Why we are in business, our work each day, our picture of the future, our core focus
    Targets/3-Year Picture: Where we want to be in 3-5 years, a picture of our business, target market, planned financials and other accomplishments, our customers’ view of our uniqueness, the promises and guarantees we will fulfill  
    Goals/1-Year Plan: What we plan to do this year, annual priorities, critical numbers we will track 
    Actions/Rocks: How we do it, planned and tracked in chunks (typically quarterly) to meet annual goals
    Schedules: Who will do what by when—setting the stage for accountability management

    RELATED: 3 Simple Brain Hacks for Goal Setting and Achieving

    So, Who Really Cares About All of This?

    First, let’s consider typical stakeholders and how the strategic plan can best help them help your business. Let’s explore stakeholder groups and ideas on how the strategic plan can influence their impact. You might think of others.

    Current Employees: Our core values set expectations for how we treat each other and our customers. The 3-Year Plan and 1-Year Plan create excitement about the company’s future and help employees see why their work is so critical. Schedules directly communicate the significance of each person and the criticality of achieving commitments. The strategic plan is a critical component in new employee orientation, indicating what we expect from employees and what they can expect from others. It provides the foundation for holding people accountable and is most effective when linked directly to performance and compensation management.

    Recruits: Our core values and purpose describe our culture and the work we do. Sharing this helps potential employees better understand the organization and decide if it is a good fit for them. It helps us make the same assessment, especially when linked directly to behavioral interviewing.   

    RELATED: Employee Retention Challenges and Solutions

    Customers: When we share our core values, purpose, long-term vision of who we are, and customer promise, we set the bar for what our customers can expect from us—and what we expect from them. This helps them decide if they want to do business with us. It helps our customer service team know how to interact with customers. To better understand this impact, think of some companies you love to work with and look for strategic planning components on their websites. (You might start with Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom, then check out COSE members’ websites.)

    Advisors/Board of Directors: How do you get the most from expert advisors positioned to help with your business? You must provide the information they need to help you. Starting with your strategic plan. Get their expert input. Gain their alignment and, if needed, their approval. This will provide the foundation for what you communicate to them regarding the accomplishments and status of the business. It answers the question board members often have of, “So what?” when they hear your reports on accomplishments. It helps them evaluate business performance and provide valuable feedback.

    Those with a Financial Interest: The strategic plan helps build trust with stakeholders, including those providing financial investment and support. It is the foundation for the details we provide, from what our business does and why, to target customers, financial projections, and employee plans. It’s the glue that ties the whole business story together.

    Third Parties (Vendors, Consultants, etc.): As with our customers, our core values, purpose, long-term vision help us articulate the softer side of what we need from the third parties. It helps them understand what we expect and it also helps us decide who to work with. Not only do we want to encourage and support other businesses sharing our values, but it makes working together easier and more enjoyable.

    You – the Business Owner/Leader: You have a burning vision for what you want your company to be. You know what it looks like and you believe you and your team can make it happen. The strategic plan is how you share what’s in your heart and mind. It’s the necessary tool for everyone to see what you see and feel what you feel. It paints the picture of your future and guides the initial steps to take you on your journey.

    What’s the Answer? Do I Need It?

    Consider the answers to these questions:

    Do I need to better align my team around common culture and goals vs. individuals working on their own priorities?
    Do I need a structure to communicate with my board, gain their input, and communicate progress on agreed upon goals vs. reacting to questions and changes in direction?
    Do I need common messages to consistently communicate with customers, vendors, financial supporters vs. scrambling to effectively describe who I am and who I do business with?
    Do I want to know when I have achieved measurable goals vs. chasing moving targets?
    Do I want to manage change vs. letting chaos manage me?

    If you answered yes to any of the above, you would benefit from a documented and managed strategic plan. Other side effects typically include improved business outcomes, reduced stress, freed up time, better focus on what we do best, employee alignment, and—yes—more fun running your business!

    Watch for related upcoming articles on:

    Strategic Planning: How Do I Get Started?
    Putting the Strategic Plan to Work
    Communication Planning
    Accountability Management
    Fractional Leadership: Can a Part-Time Leader Help Your Business?

    Janet Gosche helps business leaders struggling with too many priorities by providing systems and tools to clearly define their business strategies and lead their teams to execute. Previously, Janet was a senior executive at Accenture, global practice lead at Avasant, and COO/CSO at cybersecurity firm JurInnov, where she focused on strategy, complex program management, vendor relationships, and organizational change.  janet@janetgosche.com 216-496-6658.

     
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  • Next up: BBB business tips: Start your year off with a plan
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  • BBB business tips: Start your year off with a plan

    If 2020-2021 taught us one thing, it's that anything can happen. Be better prepared for whatever 2022 brings your way with these planning tips from Better Business Bureau Serving Greater Cleveland.

     

    If 2020 and 2021 taught us anything about running a business, it's that things might not always go as planned. Getting creative and having a backup can help your business when something unexpected happens. Better Business Bureau (BBB®) suggests starting the year off with a business continuity plan (BCP.) A BCP is a strategic plan for an organization to continue providing its goods or services through a disruption such as a natural disaster, fire, cyber attack, or public health emergency like the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
     
    Even if the chances of an unexpected disaster are low, they aren’t zero. According to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center, phishing and spoofing attacks were the most common cybercrime in 2020 and are one of the top scams targeting business, with almost one-quarter of a million victims and $50 million in losses nationwide. In 2020, lost business costs from a cyberattack accounted for nearly 40% of costs for a data breach, totaling an average of $1.52 million, notwithstanding the losses from other business disruptions. Having a BCP not only gives business leaders peace of mind knowing they are prepared to face a challenge like a phishing attack but can be used as a critical tool to continue or recover normal business practices. Businesses that aren’t able to create a BCP might have a longer recovery time from an incident due to loss of client data, productivity, and revenue. This in turn may have an impact on customer retention and could impact your business reputation. 

    When designing a BCP, it is important to consider these things: 

    1. Strategy and organization: Elements such as employee structure, skills, and communications
    2. Technology: IT elements such as systems, data backups, and networks
    3. Facilities: Physical infrastructure that may get damaged and need to be replaced

    Creating a BCP involves analysis, creation, execution, and evaluation. BCP’s should also be realistic and adaptable to unexpected obstacles. 

    BBB Serving Greater Cleveland has the following tips to help your business create a BCP: 

    Tip no. 1: Create a Business Impact Analysis (BIA). What is the impact of an unexpected disaster on your business? How does it affect business functions, resources, people, and suppliers? Your impact analysis should start with brainstorming scenarios of threat. Then create a concise plan with documentation that recognizes which processes are most important to your business. 

    Tip no. 2: Identify risks, vulnerabilities, and threats. Create a list of possible disruptions that may impact your business. This may include physical damage to property/equipment, supply chain or transportation interruptions, utility outage, and corruption of sensitive information technology. After you have identified possible risks, create a list of safeguards to help reduce these risks or improve recovery. For example, if an employee goes home from illness, you can implement an overnight cleaning to protect other employees or create an on-call system for when people call off. 

    Tip no. 3: Assign leadership roles. Identify a team to help implement your plan. This team will help create the readiness plan, including focusing on the cost of business disruption and solution costs for continuing your business. This plan should also include anyone who will know the plan well enough to train the rest of the employees. 

    Tip no. 4: Create a plan for workers and operations. A well-assembled BCP includes a list of priorities in critical business operations and time-sensitive tasks. The plan should also list administrators and contact information for emergency responders, key personnel, and backup site providers.

    RELATED: 3 things to know about starting a new year off right

    Tip no. 5: Create a disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery (DR) plan is part of a BCP. However, a DR plan focuses on restoring IT infrastructure, whereas a BCP considers business processes, assets, human resources, and business partners.

    Tip no. 6: Store important documents. Creating a Business Continuity Resource Requirements document helps keep a clear view of what the business would need in case of a specific loss in resources. The owner should also create a BIA worksheet to analyze what operational and financial activities will be prioritized in the event of a disruption. 

    Tip no. 7: Test the plan. Training exercises will help to familiarize your employees with the plan, allowing for a better, realistic execution. Controlled training strategies, such as a simulation of a disaster, can help determine if the business will be able to carry on critical business functions.

    RELATED: Read more from BBB Serving Greater Cleveland

    Tip no. 8: Measure Performance. Management can then analyze the plan's performance to see if it fulfills its intended purpose. We recommend testing a continuity plan two to four times a year, depending on the organization's size and the number of business processes occurring between each test. 

    Tip no. 9: Continuously review the plan. Finally, it is crucial to determine the plan's KPIs by measuring if the recovery objectives were met. Management should assess gaps found in the implementation process and train staff accordingly. A periodic review of the plan will contribute to the plan's success. 

    For additional tips and resources, visit BBB.org to help keep your small business thriving. Contact your Better Business Bureau by calling 216.241.7678 or emailing info@cleveland.bbb.org. Interested in becoming BBB Accredited? Find out how you can apply for BBB Accreditation.

     
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  • Next up: The Civic Sector Role in an Inclusive Economy
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  • The Civic Sector Role in an Inclusive Economy

    Watch a recent GCP webinar about the importance of fostering equitable and inclusive economic growth throughout Greater Cleveland

    Fostering equitable and inclusive economic growth throughout Greater Cleveland is a foundational component of the work of numerous public and civic sector organizations. 

    In a recent webinar, we explored the efforts of three such agencies – the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). Our panel discussed how each agency is actively integrating equity and inclusion into their missions, recent successes and challenges, and what opportunities lie ahead as our region prepares to emerge from the global pandemic. 

    Watch the recorded webinar below:

     

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  • Next up: The impact of company culture and tips for improving it
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  • The impact of company culture and tips for improving it

    Having a good company culture can help attract and retain good talent, and can have a positive impact on your bottom line. Find out how to improve the culture at your small business.

     

    Even a small business establishes a company culture. Having a positive company culture is important whether you have many employees or only a few employees. With the pandemic “great resignation” going on, a positive company culture can help you to retain your employees. It boosts employee morale and leads to increased productivity and efficiency in your workplace, as well as motivates employees to do better and makes them want to come to work. This helps your bottom line in many ways including being able to attract and keep the best employees, which in turn, helps you to reduce costs as training new hires can be expensive. It also helps cut down on absenteeism, workplace accidents and more.

    There are many reasons a company culture can be negative including lack of growth opportunities, lack of clarity and expectations for job responsibilities and performance, problems with leadership or problems with your company’s morale. These are all things that you should take a hard, honest look at. If you find you have a morale problem, you should take action as soon as possible to correct the problem. 

    There are many things you can do to boost company morale, whether your employees work in-person or remotely. Check out the following ideas.

    Recognize good employees for their efforts. This can be thru recognition in various ways such as a bonus, an award, a mention to other employees when there is a successful outcome, etc.

    RELATED: Why employee motivation matters more in a small business

    Listen to your employees. They can offer many excellent ideas whether at meetings, thru a suggestion box or by any other means of communication. They are often on the front lines and hear things that you may not be aware of.

    Offer your employees growth opportunities. No one wants to be in a dead-end job with no way to grow or improve. This also helps when recruiting new employees. 

    Offer your employees training opportunities. This can include in school or in company training programs.

    Offer other benefits. Consider offering your employees assistance with higher education, or personal assistance for health or personal issues. This will help them feel valued and important to your company.

    Organize team building activities. These can be beneficial to both in-person employees, as well as to employees who work remotely. These can foster communication, increase productivity and creativity.

    RELATED: Read more from Tim Dimoff

    Encourage frequent breaks. A coffee break can do wonders to re-incentivize employees. Discourage employees from working thru lunch or eating at their desks. If you can, have a breakroom that is nice and comfortable so they can unwind for a few minutes. This also fosters communication between employees.

    Encourage diversity. Bring in different talents, experiences and various skill sets. This can bring your employees together as a team and promote fresh ideas.

    Let go of any bullies or negative employees. This type of employee can completely hinder a positive company culture, as well as open you up to potential lawsuits.

    The best thing you can do for your company and your team is to embrace changes that positively benefit all before low morale takes hold. And if you already have good morale and a positive company culture, these steps will help you to keep good talent. 

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

     
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  • Next up: Implement an effective employee wellness program with these 9 tips
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  • Implement an effective employee wellness program with these 9 tips

    A wellness program not only benefits your employees physically and emotionally, it can also make them more productive workers and improve your retention rates.

    As the owner of a small business, you may not think that an employee wellness program is necessary for your small team. However, by promoting wellness in the workplace, you are supporting your employees and helping to boost their moral and motivation. 

    The pandemic brought the great exodus from the workplace and with it, new challenges in finding and keeping good employees. The cost to your business when you have to keep replacing and training new employees is huge, so it is crucial for your business to prioritize wellness and to support your employees. 

    There are many ways in which to go about doing this. This article outlines some tips for creating a successful wellness program that supports employees and helps maintain a strong workplace. 

    Here are some suggestions that you may want to implement in your workplace:

    Workplace wellness tip no. 1: Listen to your employees’ needs. Talk to them and survey them. This will help you to design a wellness program that they would like to participate in. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 2: Create a healthy work environment. This goes a long way toward boosting productivity. Encourage employees to exercise, listen to music, take a walk, and to get moving during their break periods. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 3: Blend wellness into your company culture. Offer a nice breakroom or even put in an exercise room. This will allow your employees a space to de-stress. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 4: Promote wellness education. A healthy lifestyle will help to keep sick days to a minimum. Some ways to promote this include offering online classes on topics like nutrition and disease prevention, the importance of exercise and of not smoking. Your health insurance provider may be able to help with this as they often offer online classes, etc.

    Workplace wellness tip no. 5: Make sure you participate. Don’t just talk the talk. Your participation will set a good example and encourage others to follow.

    Workplace wellness tip no. 6: Have fun! Consider hosting a challenge to boost interaction around your new wellness program. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 7: Set common goals. This will help to foster communication and participation. Set up a goals chart and reward employees for participating. These can be virtual events or in-person events. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 8: Encourage wellness through check-ups. Offer medical screenings and stock the break room with healthy snacks and drinks.

    Workplace wellness tip no. 9: Go mobile! Encourage employees to use mobile apps to monitor and track fitness goals. 

    Workplace wellness tip no. 10: Incorporate volunteering into your program. Many volunteer opportunities incorporate physical activity, such as working in a community garden or building houses for those in need. 

    These are just suggestions, but studies have shown employee wellness can be motivated by workplace programs. Try incorporating all or just a few of these suggestions and see how it can positively affect your employees and your bottom line.

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

     
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