LP Magazine

MAY-JUN 2019

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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restrooms where people often feel uneasy; armed robbery; shoplifting turning violent; and active-killer type scenarios. "It was a bit of a battle to get some retailers to see violence as a strategic issue, but now more have come around to it," he said. To enable business success, Hayes said retailers need to focus on (a) the shoplifter because a customer needs to be able to find the product he or she came in to buy; (b) the experience because friction from long checkout lines and the like dampens sales; and (c) safety and security because from the time a customer enters a store's parking lot, he or she needs to feel safe for the sale to take place. "People want to work in safe places and shop in safe places, so not only is there a life safety issue and a moral imperative to protect workers and customers, but also there is a strategic tie in." And it's an increasingly important one. With online shopping a persistent option, there is rarely a reason for customers to shop in a location where they feel uncomfortable. "Intimidation can be a killer to a retail company's business because now you can get back in your car and order. It's a looming issue for retailers," said Hayes. From LPRC interviews with shoppers, Hayes said they've learned that intimidation extends far beyond harrowing scenarios, such as a van in the parking lot full of masked men poised to commit a robbery. Intimidation comes in many forms. "There is intimidation from dark places or the lack of sales people. Just a general sense of feeling vulnerable keeps people away and shortens how long they shop," Hayes said. "We've also learned about the negative impact from things like people asking customers for gas money, or trying to sell them something, or loitering in the area, or just people who are not doing the normal things—they're all types of intimidation to a customer." Since customers also don't want to shop in a fortress or see draconian security, how should LP leaders be looking at the problem? Hayes said LPRC research points to the importance of examining the entire retail environment and considering how it might be changed so that "red guys" feel less safe and "green guys" feel safer. "One thing we've found is the importance of day versus night. You might have a parking lot that has beautiful trees that are inviting during the day, but which can be hiding places at night, so bad guys feel safe and customers don't," Hayes explained. "It's not an argument against lush vegetation, but it is a call to look at how environmental issues play during different times, weather, seasons, and so on." Larry Hartman said he's observed retailers responding to the new risk environment in a variety of ways, including with policy approaches, such as more frequent reviews and revisions of shoplifting policies and store opening and closing procedures, and with deterrence, including staffing levels and positioning uniformed guards or LP staff at entrances. But leading LP units are also examining the conflict management skills of its general staff and asset protection personnel. Employees are the most likely victims of in-store violence, but they also may be the best chance to prevent it. "The better prepared employees are, the more likely they are to avoid a problem and the calmer they will be during the unfolding of the event," Hartman explained. Because if it is true, as most believe, that everyone's default today is a little bit closer to the boiling point, then the ability of staff to lower temperatures has become more important than ever. People We spoke with Rob Holm on a big day. One and a half years in the making—after assessing training options, selecting vendors, testing, and tweaking the curriculum—McDonald's was rolling out its e-learning workplace violence prevention training program to its restaurants. "We're excited about it," said Holm, the company's director of global security. "We identified it as an opportunity and as the right thing to do for employees, to provide information they need for those exposures that unfortunately do exist." The company is starting with its restaurant managers, who in the next ninety days will be completing in their stores an online training program created by a third-party vendor shaped to fit the chain's challenges, align with its policies, and resonate with its managers. The course consists of seven modules, which require about fifteen minutes each to complete, on topics from armed robbery to active-shooter scenarios to managing aggressive behavior. After each module, restaurant managers must pass a competency test before moving to the next lesson. Learners will complete surveys so that the company can continue to refine and improve the training program. Soon, the seven learning modules will be condensed into a shorter, more focused one-module training course for all restaurant crew members to undergo. "We want to help problem situations from escalating, and if something has already escalated, then our managers will be in a position to de-escalate things," said Holm. One typical challenge for quick-serve restaurants is the issue of homeless individuals that cause problems or loiter inside restaurants. Confronting and managing those issues humanely but effectively requires an understanding of both verbal and nonverbal messaging, explained Holm. "People need to be aware of the specific things they should say and also what not to say, and how body language can help a situation or make it worse," said Holm. "The goal, really, comes down to building awareness for situations that they may get exposed to that can put their safety at risk." Although not specifically driven by a rise in incidents, McDonald's training program is, in part, a response to a general increase in threat levels in society. "In the last several years, societal, demographic, and political issues have increased risks in our industry," said Holm. "It is absolutely a Rob Holm 17 LP MAGAZINE | MAY–JUNE 2019 TOOLS AND TRAINING HELP LP TEAMS PUNCH BACK AGAINST VIOLENCE

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