Regardless of what your company sells, where you sell it, or your total store count, you as a loss prevention or asset protection professional must win. Life safety, frightened customers and team members, dangerously low margins, and liability are some of your business’s risks. Violence, theft, fraud, and even poor process design and execution are killing retailers across the globe.
You’re the Resident Expert
Your retail organization needs you to be the resident retail security and loss control expert. You are expected to know how your total retail enterprise operates and, most importantly, how it’s actually operating in various changing environments across the nation and globe.
You’re looking for weak and leak points, crime and loss patterns, bad process design, challenging market areas, and ineffective, disgruntled, or dishonest employees. You’re the one who is expected to best understand the factors behind crime and loss and how to cost-effectively control those dynamics.
And it is in this critical and complex context that you assess your LP program and performance wins and gaps. This is your first step. You’re looking to cost-effectively support corporate goals and operations. You’re trying to protect people, your brand, and company assets. You’re working to make it all happen, which means you have got to win.
To win, you need an operating model or strategy. It needs to be carefully designed, but simple in concept and operation. Its impact should be quantifiable and readily explained above and below you—by you and your team. And it should be designed to work.
At the LPRC and the University of Florida, we don’t just focus on individual deterrent measures; we also work on overall loss prevention operating models and strategies. Our members need and demand this.
Working with LPRC members, we typically look to lay out the context and strategy at each level. An LP or AP organization should be designed and operate to support the retail enterprise, and all of its people and initiatives should support corporate objectives. Those levels can look something like the descending action points below:
- Fully understand and map out all corporate goals and supporting processes.
- Align and map LP goals to support each relevant corporate goal and program.
- Set up the LP strategy, process, technologies, and team structure to support these LP goals.
- Identify and develop overall LP team knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics to support the LP strategy and programs.
- Identify and develop individual LP team member knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics to support your focused LP teams and programs.
Always remember that outside market conditions and other dynamics will be changing, so corporate and LP goals and process will need to be able to detect this and quickly adapt.
In future columns we’ll discuss more details around strategy and process. I would encourage you to think more about this very important topic while also sharing your ideas and experience with me at rhayes (at) lpresearch (dot) org.
Like any organization, the Loss Prevention Research Council and the University of Florida’s Crime Prevention Research Team continue to grow and adapt. Our team, our board of advisors, and our membership invested heavily last year into driving the eleven cooperative working groups, and the result was almost twenty new research projects and findings—a huge success for all. Plus, the 2015 Impact Conference in Gainesville grew to over 200 executives, with even higher participant ratings.
This success has us fired up to build on these accomplishments:
- The LPRC has now conducted over 175 research projects, and those results and others are being compiled into a new LPRC Knowledge Center. This online center will have hundreds of LP-related, keyword-searchable, PDF-formatted reports in a Google-type interface.
- The LPRC will conduct multiple webinars exploring internal, external, and cyber threats and research.
- All eleven LPRC working groups have added new members and built their leadership. Each group holds monthly calls, webinars, or field trips, and each group pledges to deliver at least three research reports annually. Working groups include multiple retailers and typically solution partners, law enforcement, or other experts.
- Look for the Spring Cyber Security Summit at the University of Florida; group field trips to DCs, high-crime areas, and California R&D sites; and new technology innovation demonstrations.
- The LPRC website is brand new (LPresearch.org), and new components will be added throughout the year.
- The LPRC board of advisors has designated sub-teams and is instituting new performance metrics to provide even more strategic guidance for the entire LPRC team.
- The October Impact Conference promises to be better and is adding new interactive exercises for top LP executives as well as corporate and field LP staff participants.
- The LPRC Innovation Lab has been greatly updated and is focused to support research and development to increase situational awareness and protective impact in the five concentric zones of influence.
- The LPRC team is also booking high-level retailer LP meetings in the Innovation Lab. We already have several top retailers committed to visit and use the lab and nearby “innovation” stores as a key part of their 2016 planning and improvement efforts. Due to demand, please let us know at operations (at) lpresearch (dot) org as soon as possible if your team is interested.
- The University of Florida team is working across campus with engineers, business faculty, and other departments and graduate students on multiple crime prevention initiatives, and the online UF LP certificate course is almost ready to launch.
So 2016 holds the promise of many critical issues to deal with including what appears to be growing violence, theft, and fraud, lowered respect for authority, cyber risks of all kinds, and more possible terrorist threats. By working together to conduct year-long focused collaboration, research, testing, and learning, LP organizations can make even more positive impact inside their companies.
Intelligence-Led Policing: Leadership, Strategies and Tactics by Thomas E. Baker features ten chapters describing how to gain situational awareness of high-impact offenders, places, and problems in order to more precisely develop and deliver prevention and protection.