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Retail Surveillance: The Next Best Thing to Cloning Yourself

Filed under: Retail, Loss Prevention

Why should retailers invest in video surveillance when they could use that money to hire a new employee or run an advertisement? Because many retail organizations today are successfully using their surveillance system for just minutes a day to find costly inefficiencies, theft and other problems – and seeing increased revenues and profits as a result.

One area where video can provide almost immediate benefits is in helping to create a healthy work culture. A positive work environment can minimize problematic employee behavior — everything from outright theft to mismanagement of the business, inappropriate behavior with customers, and absenteeism.

While we all want to believe the best of everyone, studies have shown that a whopping 80% will be tempted to slack off or even steal if given the right (make that the wrong!) circumstances.

Criminologist Donald R. Cressey developed the fraud triangle to describe what those circumstances are:

Motive or Pressure — Strong financial or other need driving a desire to have something

Rationalization — Employee being able to justify in his or her mind that it is ok to commit theft

Opportunity — A situation that enables the individual to resolve (act on) the motive

Minimize opportunity

As a business owner, opportunity is the circumstance that you can have the most control over. There are several things you can do to reduce situations that might open the door to your employee being tempted over to the dark side. Mostly importantly, studies have shown that people are much less likely to steal when they believe there’s a high probability they will be caught. For example, when you’re standing in your store, employees are attentive, they welcome customers warmly, the store is kept clean and tidy, and no one indulges in “executive lunches.” Money and products don’t disappear from the till and from the storeroom.

But you can’t be there all the time. And that’s where video surveillance comes into play.

The good and the bad

With video surveillance, you can continue to monitor your stores remotely – meaning you really CAN be in two places at one time. To do this effectively, however, you need a surveillance system that uses intelligence to extract relevant video into information you can work with.

The problem with most video surveillance solutions is that they are all about watching and searching through video. What you actually need is a video solution that can take 12 hours of stored footage and boil it down to just the five events you’re truly interested in seeing.

If your video surveillance system can give you some easy-to-review reports, then you could – and probably would – take the 15 minutes a day needed to review operations at every store. Very quickly you could skim through a full day of store activity to make sure the store was clean, employees were present and working where they should be. You could then make sure you rewarded those managers and employees who were doing a good job, and also have a chat with that one employee who took five breaks throughout the day while customers waited for service.

Regular monitoring of the video surveillance pays big dividends:

  • You can identify — and therefore reward — exceptional employees. Employees who are being treated fairly will continue to excel, while others on the team will recognize that good performance is rewarded.
  • Employees will know that there’s a high probability they will be caught if they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
  • You may notice repeated mistakes that highlight the need for better or more specific training.

Together, these dividends will add up to an excellent return for you: a well-run business, where your customers have a great experience, spend more in your stores and become repeat customers; and a tool you can use daily to reduce problems such as employee negligence or theft, which are a huge and well-documented drain on your profits.

For more ideas about how to prevent employee theft, check out Business Know-How’s article, Employee Theft: Identify and Prevent Fraud, Embezzlement, Pilfering, and Abuse.

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