LP Executives Share Their Experience with Managing Stores during COVID-19

In the first in a series of short surveys of loss prevention and asset protection management, LPM asked about the impact and challenges of the current travel restrictions on managing retail stores, field LP teams, and what communications measures are in use. Here are the initial responses. This article will be updated as new responses come in. To add your voice to this conversation, send your observations and comments to jackt (at) lpportal.com.

Specifically, what types of travel restrictions are you putting on your teams in response to COVID-19 and for how long?

“No air travel of any kind. No vehicular travel beyond two hours from home base. No overnight hotel stays. All travel restrictions are through the first week of April and will be reevaluated then.” – VP LP, specialty retail

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“All commercial air travel has been suspended through April 15th.” – Supermarket VP AP

“We have stopped all international and domestic travel. There is an exception approval process in place though.” – Director AP, business continuity, risk, and safety

“Overall, no travel until further notice and all corporate and regional management are working from home.” – Regional LP manager

“There is no flying or hotel stays effective this past Monday, March 16th.” – VP LP, discount store

What steps are your field teams taking to continue strong communication and support of the stores if they cannot physically get to them?

“We hold twice daily conference calls between headquarters and all field teams to ensure connectivity and follow through plus daily corporate messaging to include updated FAQs.” – Supermarket VP AP

“We are supporting the security of our stores through our closures; all stores are now closed to the public. Remote monitoring, alarm maintenance, guidelines for closing the store properly to mitigate potential burglaries, and guard coverage in high risk areas have been implemented.” – Director AP, business continuity, risk, and safety

“All stores have been closed temporarily with store employees to be paid for two weeks. There are store-level structured calls daily for LP support in local markets, semi-weekly or as needed for regional level, and weekly or as needed for corporate level. Local teams have group chat as needed for vetted information driving by LP manager or higher. Video conferencing is used for all structured calls to help keep teams better connected versus just a phone call. The structured call approach starts with corporate leadership team to regional teams to store teams. This provides one version of the truth full transparency from corporate leadership to hourly employees.” – Regional LP manager

“We are doing phone interviews and remote video surveillance. When we are in stores, our team is assisting with freight, cycle counting, and other necessary store operations.” – VP LP, discount store

“We have twice daily conference calls with appropriate stores, field, and headquarter leaders and are using video technologies to maintain a closer connection with the field.” – VP LP, specialty retail

What other challenges are you experiencing with executing your day-to-day LP programs and what new solutions have you found?

“Getting localized intelligence about what health departments or state leaders are doing is the most challenging. RILA’s site is trying to be a clearing house of this information. Our business continuity team spent much cross-divisional collaboration time creating a matrix of what to do if someone thinks they have been exposed. While the CDC has instructions, the challenge is to translate that into sanitizations and social distancing actions across our different facilities including stores, DCs, and headquarters.” – Director AP, business continuity, risk, and safety

“Our main challenge is getting LP employees over the anxiety, fear, and unknowns related to COVID-19. It has been a struggle to get skeleton crews on site where store staffing is needed. Although these are not new solutions, we are using remote view into cameras at stores with structured review each hour, robust alarm monitoring and response, and strong documentation of same is best approach.” – Regional LP manager

“We are ramping up guard service as supplies become scarcer. We are seeing more burglaries aimed at cleaning supplies.” – VP LP, discount store

“Our ability to visit stores as frequently as we would like has been diminished by internal travel restrictions and external policies. We are heavily leveraging Microsoft Teams more than ever to keep LP teams and stores connected. There are no other ‘new solutions.’ We are monitoring specific KPIs and remote audits to identify stores that require contact and to create a perception of control. We are conducting more telephone interviews.” – VP LP, specialty retail

“We have suspended all non-critical activity to allow our AP teams to focus on support of our stores, associates, and customers as necessary.” – Supermarket VP AP

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