Day two of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) ASAP Conference started with Tammy Clark of Wicklander-Zulawski and a refresher course on participatory interview techniques to help support corporate and high-level investigations. This method can be applied to learn more information about a potential issue. It aids the investigator in determining whether a full interrogation is needed or whether the issue can be corrected with training or operational improvement. From determining motive to learning the subject’s understanding of policy, participatory interview techniques can also lock them into a story or alibi. After building a rapport, you gradually work from general business questions to more specific business procedures as you zero in on the specific issue you wish to learn about. One of the keys to success is the use of follow-up questions at each level of questioning to help condition your subject to expect those questions and become comfortable answering them.
After a short break for Idea Exchanges, Steve Geckle of the Upper Merion Police Department spoke on the trending technology and techniques being used in credit card fraud schemes. From skimmers to hacking, data used in the payment process is vulnerable, and some people will always be looking for ways to get access to that information. As Geckle introduced each method and potential resources to assist with investigations, a common theme emerged: training and communication to front-line associates. It’s crucial to ensure your associates can spot a skimming device and know whom to contact if they find one. In addition, clear communication the specific policies regarding the sharing financial information and gift card activations is necessary. Finally, to support your investigation, take advantage of appropriate resources and partnerships to keep at the forefront of the trends and groups active in your areas.
Speaking of being at the forefront of current trends, a breakout panel session on CCTV and facial recognition discussed the evolution of identity and growth areas for the technology. Hedgie Bartol of Axis Communications set the scene on capturing your images: this is where it all begins. Getting the right image drive the rest of the processes. This doesn’t always mean new cameras, but it could mean assessing current cameras and their locations. Once you have that image, determining how you plan to use it. On one side, you’ve got the ability to identify known threats entering locations and be more proactive to reduce the opportunity for theft. On the other side, you’ve got the ability to use facial recognition to identify your associates and provide more accurate and seamless business processes. It helps move from a “what you know” (codes and passwords) and “what you have” (keys, badge, phone) environment to a “who you are” environment, especially when it comes to operational controls. Once you’ve figured out how you want to use your image, an integrator can help you reach your end goal with both identification scenarios. One of the common concerns in the room was the legal and privacy implications. The panel agreed that while it has not been an issue thus far, it’s important to engage and partner with your internal teams early to develop a communication strategy that ensures you’re keeping all customers happy – even the bad ones.
With communication in mind, the dynamic duo of Joe Conway from ACME Markets and Mike Nugent from Tops Markets gave new insights into applying the 80/20 rule and where teams are spending their time. In general, nearly 35 percent of shrink comes from theft while bout 65 percent comes from operational contributors. If teams are still spending 80 percent of their time focused on investigations, it leaves a smaller amount of time to address the remaining shrink drivers. One way to adjust the balance is by improving shrink awareness in the stores with leadership and coaching – especially when it comes to an area like fresh produce. The session leaders had a great example of seeing what their trash is telling them to make it actionable for an associate in the store to envision their impact on shrink. If products are ending up in the trash, ask why. What actions can be taken to reduce what’s ending up there? The communication process and coaching is key to drive action and communication with the appropriate business partners who are making purchasing, merchandising, and production decisions.
Our final session for FMI 2017 focused on using teamwork to achieve long-term success. Robyn Benincasa took her experience from being on world-class adventure race teams and translated those into the business world with ways to inspire and lead when working on teams. Her message: as you are on your journey to success, find that common goal and remember that all problems are “ours.” Each team member is responsible and accountable for the others. Find out how to inspire your team to buy into the process. Don’t be afraid to look for synergies with others, even if they are a “competitor.” Even if you are competing, sharing information and strategies helps you learn.
When it comes down to it, the spirit of learning is inherent in the spirit of attending events like FMI ASAP. It has been an outstanding few days and we look forward to the upcoming changes in the conference format and plan to see everyone in Dallas in June 2018.