You’ve heard the horror stories, or you’ve had one of your own: employee theft is rampant in the world of brick-and-mortar business. But choosing equipment, cameras, and systems for dealing with theft can be a nightmare in itself. How can you pinpoint exactly what you need without wasting a lot of money on things you don’t? Here’s a guide to reviewing your existing system, or preparing to setup a new one in a new business or location.
Thinking like a thief: common types of associate dishonesty
There are some common types of internal theft that occur on a regular basis, particularly in the retail and restaurant sectors. With a little information, you can be better prepared on how to deal with incidents that may occur.
Examples of common employee theft:
Time. Not as flashy as other theft types, this is very common and can be alleviated with the right tech.
Money. Whether it’s an employee stealing from the petty cash or an elaborate cash register scheme, money is a main target for dishonest employees, not just dishonest customers.
Company property and supplies. Reordering cutlery like crazy, or always looking for missing demo items? Your tech could put an end to this.
Inventory and product. You may not begrudge your employee a free beverage, but when entire boxes of product start disappearing, it’s a real problem.
Discount sharing, aka ‘sweethearting’. Sharing one’s employee discount always seems like a small matter, but add it up at the end of the year and you may see a real problem in the works.
We’ve got an article that offers an in-depth look at the most commons types of theft in 2019 if you’d like to get into deeper detail.
STEP ONE: Identify your theft hot spots:
You can spend a fortune on surveillance cameras and other tech for loss prevention, but being strategic about your setup can make all the difference. The hot spots for theft are unique to each business, and sometimes varies from location to location depending on floor plan, shifts, and even neighbourhood. Ask yourself some important questions before you being to buy:
1. Where can employees access cash? Your point of sale system is an obvious one, but do you also provide access to a petty cash? Is there a vault or safe on site, and do others have the access code? Do you have a foolproof procedure in place for bank deposits, such as a buddy system for walks to the bank? Pinpointing where staff have to handle actual cash can narrow your focus considerably.
2. Do I have areas of highly tempting goods? It may seem obvious when you stop to consider, but stacking an opened box of candy bars by the back door of the break room is practically an invitation for staff to grab a snack on their 15. Are your most expensive sneakers stashed in the back corner of the store room, far from view but close to the employee lockers? That may be too much temptation for an employee who sees an easy opportunity to stash a pair in his own backpack. Consider the layout of your site, make changes where you can, and double down on cameras and tech for hot spots that can’t be adjusted.
3. Is the end-of-shift checklist never done? If you’re noticing a lot of compliance issues, it could be that staff are doing more leaning, less cleaning. Determine areas of your site where staff seem to converge for chats and consider monitoring these areas. Time theft can cost you just as much per year as petty thefts!
4. Are you certain that everyone is on time? Signing in and out each day and taking breaks of appropriate length shouldn’t be a hassle, but it so often is. You may find that you need to monitor your employee entrance so that you can confirm any suspicions you have about someone who is clocking in late or taking long lunches.
5. Are you protecting your greatest asset-your team? Cloak room theft is a common occurrence that can drive a wedge between team members, bring down morale, and result in resignations. Keeping an eye on areas where employees stash their valuables makes them feel like you’re watching out for everyone.
STEP TWO: Determine what tech will deter employee theft.
The hardware you need for your business will be determined by your industry and physical location. For the most part, cameras are going to be the first thing you purchase or update, but there’s a few other great ways to really clamp down on associate dishonesty.
1. With cameras, cheaper may cost you. Depending on what you learned from answering our earlier questions, you may have come to realize that you would do just as well with five great cameras, rather than flooding the salesfloor with fifteen cheap ones. High definition is a key factor to consider, as it makes identification of thieves much easier-especially important if your staff wear identical uniforms. Another great option is a 360 camera, though beware that not all software will compensate for the ‘fishbowl’ effect that the camera can create. (Want to see the difference? Request a free demo of Solink’s platform to see how easy viewing can be with the right software in place.)
2. Motion can help pinpoint problems. Unauthorized access to the backroom after hours? Empty top shelf liquor with no receipts to explain it? Stolen cash from the cloak room? All these things can be found by searching through your hours of video, but some systems can actually notify you of motion in an area so you can narrow down your search. But beware: most system search on a grid, so if it’s a busy room, it’ll likely pick up motion all day long.
3. A great point of sale (POS) is a huge help. Finding a modern POS that can manage things like loyalty programs, gift cards, and even inventory will help you to keep a tighter rein on costs and closer eye on your cashflow. We’ve found Toast POS to be one of the best around-that’s why we’re their official security solution integration partner.
4. Key card systems alleviate fraud. A physical key card, fob, or badge can make it harder for employees to share their login information for cash registers, locked rooms, and other systems. A system like this should prevent you from being in the stressful situation of trying to determine if employee A is lying when she says that employee B used her access code to open the register last night.
5. Connect your conventional systems for a smart experience. All these systems are great, but when used individually, you’ll be searching through timestamps, login reports, footage, and receipts for hours trying to uncover evidence you know is in there, somewhere. Luckily, there are ways to connect your systems and have all that endless data siphoned and sorted to highlight only unusual activity or trends. While there are several systems out there that can do this, Solink really is the best choice for anyone looking for an affordable option that’s loaded with features.
Imagine the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your managers will get a daily email report of any trends you’re investigating, any ‘red flag’ moments, any motion in unauthorized areas, and all your evidence bundled together on one mobile platform for easy sending and sharing with authorities. It’s the final piece to your employee theft puzzle: Solink puts all the pieces together and shows you the bigger picture. Best of all: Solink only requires one small DVR on-site, and simply connects with your existing camera, key card, and POS system; so you can choose your various systems individually based on your needs.
Free for you: A cheat sheet for shopping day.
We’ve shared a lot of information and important points you won’t want to forget. So we’ve created this printable PDF that you can carry with you while you examine your business and talk with suppliers.
Preventing employee theft isn’t about scaring your staff team or accusing them of dishonesty; it’s about ensuring you have the evidence you need so you never make a false accusation or launch an unnecessary investigation. Modern tech and systems make that job easier, which means a happier and safer work environment for every member of your team.
If you’d like to learn more, take a look at Solink’s Complete Guide to Employee Theft.