Employee theft can be a high cost to indie small business retailers. Different studies in Australia and elsewhere coupled with our own knowledge of theft in indie small business retail indicates that employee theft costs a business around 75% of the total cost of theft.
The quantum of employee theft is often under considered by small business retailers. We think this is because of denial. However, given that the amount that can be taken in one hit or in micro amounts over a long period of time can be considerable once toted up.
Employee theft can be traced and as a result of this stopped. Our small business PO software helps retailers do this. We back the theft mitigation facilities in our software with training, advice and even data analysis to uncover possible instances of theft that may have hitherto gone undetected.
We also support our work on employee and customer theft in retail with support and advice to help deal with theft situations once they are uncovered. We do this because we are retailers ourselves and have personal experience dealing with this, experience through which we hope our customers can benefit.
Here is some of the small business retail theft mitigation advice from our POS software retail experienced team:
- Track your stock. Receive all stock into your business through your computer system so you know exactly what sock you have.
- Scan everything you sell. Do not use department keys as this makes it easier for employees to steal since they know there is no trackback to stock on hand. Using department keys is an invitation to steal.
- Track every sale by employees. Give your employees a card with a unique barcode or have them enter a code – to track every sale they make back to them. Change the code every six months or so.
- Do your end of shift through your software and have a zero-tolerance policy on being over or under. Reconcile banking to your computer software end of shift. One business where this was not done was being skimmed regularly for $200 a day.
- Do spot cash balancing. Unexpected checks can uncover surprises. One retailer needing to do a banking during the day uncovered a $350 discrepancy that lead to discovery of systematic theft.
- Change your roster. Sometimes people work together to steal. One retailer found a family friend senior and their teenage daughter stealing consistently.
- Setup a theft policy.Put this on a noticeboard in the back room. Get staff to read it and sign up to it. See the last page of this advice.
- Keep the counter clean. An organised counter reduces the opportunity for theft. It makes detection easier.
- Have a no employee bags at the counter policy. This makes it harder for them to hide your cash.
- Beware employees who carry folded paper or small notepads. These can be used for them to keep track of how much cash is in the register that is theirs – i.e. not rung up in the software.
- Advise all job applicants that you will require their permission for a police check. From the outset this indicates that you take your business seriously. In many situations applicants who have been asked for permission to do a police check advise they have found a job elsewhere.
- Do not take cash out for your own use in front of employees. If they see you take cash for a coffee or lunch some will see this as an invitation.