Employee theft can cost a retail business thousands of dollars a week. It is one of those business ownership or management experiences which is all too often ignored until it has happened to you.
Employee theft is real, take it from someone who has experienced it firsthand. In my case, over fifteen years as a retail business owner, I have experienced three occasions of serious employee theft costing thousands.
The tragedy is that retailers usually have at their disposal tools which, if used properly, reduce the opportunity for theft and thereby protect the cash within the business.
Retail store managers and owners need to take the risk of theft seriously rather than thinking that it could never happen to them. This means considering that everyone working in your retail business is a potential thief. Tough as this is, it is the only way to operate.
At every opportunity, make it clear that you have a zero tolerance approach to theft. This will separate you from your employees, so be it. It is essential that you put your desire to cut theft ahead of friendship with an employee. Your business is at risk after all.
Everything in your business with value must be treated with respect. Every day. And you, as the owner or manager, need to demonstrate leadership on the mission to keep theft at a minimum.
Cash. Be obsessive about balancing every day. Ensure that your processes are water tight. Eliminate opportunities in your processes for fraud. Consider engaging a third party not connected with the business to audit your processes. Review video footage regularly. Have yourself and your manager expertly trained in detecting employee theft at the cash register. Consider bringing in an investigator to assess the team of team members. Best of all, use the facilities in your software.
Track stock. Manipulating stock is one way employees steal. By obsessively tracking stock on hand you are more likely to discover employee theft sooner. Use your Point of Sale software to track all stock in and out, do spot stock takes and reorder stock. Making your POS software the heart of your stock management makes it harder for an employee to manipulate stock in stealing from you.
Data. Accurate data is an excellent way to detect and resolve an employee theft problem. Data in your Point of Sale software can provide the evidence which you denied would exist. Be open to what the data proves. Take time to learn about the theft tracking and management tools in your Point of Sale software. Be committed to using these.
Take a zero tolerance approach here. Employees stealing from you need to manipulate data in some way. For example, if their sales per hour worked are far lower than others then they could simple not be using the computer system. However, you would have detected off behaviour from your inventory system when reordering stock.
Good management processes followed with commitment and care will uncover theft quickly. Businesses without these are at greater risk. Is your retail business at risk?
Use your Point of Sale software, embrace and engage with every opportunity it presents for tracking and reducing employee theft in your retail business.