By David Castlegrant

In my over twenty years as a retail operations director, loss prevention was always a critical part of my job responsibility. Typically, when one thinks of loss prevention (LP) the topics that tend to be addressed include the control of shoplifting or internal theft.

LP is a multi-dimensional field and covers known theft as well as inventory control; customer and worker safety; building and property security; fire prevention and first aid in addition to other related risk management topics.

Over the next four issues of Surplus Today, I will address these topics in layman’s terms and provide the framework for business owners (or their managers) to create a loss prevention checklist that can be referred to on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to make sure that your establishment is not only a secure, but also a safe environment. The rationale for taking action is clear: managing risk is a benefit to the bottom line.

This first installment will address building/property security. The latter should be checked as frequently as possible. A weekly walk through is a good start so that everyone can address corrective action.  When walking the building and surrounding property for a security and safety audit, it is never a bad idea to include as many employees as available on the initial walk through. I am a firm believer in involving all levels of staff in the loss prevention process. Staff can be the first line of defense and can alert business owners to potential loss sooner rather than later.

Let’s start with the exterior of the building. Simply walk the property and respond to the following questions:

  • Are sidewalks and paths clear of debris that might cause a customer, employee or passerby trip and fall?
  • Are parking lot lights working?
  • Is pavement in good condition?
  • Are emergency building lights working?
  • Are trash bins secure with padlocks?
  • Are all exterior door locks in working order?

Stores that are located in colder climates need to pay attention to snow and ice removal. It is especially important to pay attention to the store’s entrance and receiving areas. Obvious additions to your LP checklist would include: Is there enough salt? Are snow shovels in good condition?

When walking the building’s interior, the following should be reviewed:

  • Are emergency interior lights working?
  • Are fire extinguishers working/properly charged?
  • Are flashlights available?
  • Are timers on exterior signs set to correct time?
  • Is a first aid kit available and contain adequate supplies?
  • Are security alarms working? (These should be tested monthly)
  • Is the thermostat set to the correct degree? (If applicable, thermostats should also be locked.)
  • Are emergency telephone numbers posted where EVERYONE can see these?
  • Are the alarm and emergency lists current?

Many retail stores and wholesale distribution centers have CCTV systems as part of their loss prevention technology arsenal. Some simple steps to take to make sure this investment is properly used include

  • Are all CCTVs working properly?
  • Are all CCTVs aimed properly?
  • Are the time clocks, POS systems and CCTVs all set at the same time?

Loss prevention is not rocket science, but it is also not about theft alone. A secure, safe, clean, neat and organized facility is your best defense in the risk management game.

In the next issue, we will be looking at worker safety. Stay tuned!

This article originally appeared in Surplus Today.