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Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

When was the last time the president of your company walked into one of your stores and asked an associate about the loss and accident prevention topic of the month? Or if the associate had called in their answers to the monthly training quiz? Does your senior executive staff even know what loss control initiatives you have launched, let alone embrace them as part of the corporate culture?

When was the last time the president of your company walked into one of your stores and asked an associate about the loss and accident prevention topic of the month? Or if the associate had called in their answers to the monthly training quiz? Does your senior executive staff even know what loss control initiatives you have launched, let alone embrace them as part of the corporate culture?

At Pep Boys, this level of involvement of senior staff at the stores and distribution centers is a common occurrence. This is because they realize that our Refuse 2 Lose loss prevention and risk management awareness program and web-based compliance tracking site have dramatically improved loss figures across the corporation. And when accidents are reduced by 17 percent in stores, 50 percent in Distribution Centers, and shortage is slashed by 10 percent, believe me, the senior executives take notice!

- Digital Partner -

It wasn’t always this way. In 1996, the loss prevention and risk management departments ran their own separate awareness programs. Naturally, the loss prevention people focused on reducing shortage caused by associate theft, shoplifting, and procedural error. The risk management department examined the general liability, workers’compensation, accident claims, and related safety issues. Like most companies, we were inundated with labor-intensive tasks such as manually checking  attendance sheets for associate compliance, paper audits, endless phone calls, and the creation of reports that were often irrelevant by the time they got into the hands of the people who could take action. It wasarchaic, but like many companies in existence today, it was the best we had and we did the best we could. Risk management had the same limitations. There had to be a better way.

There was. In 1997, the two departments decided to share resources and work on a comprehensive awareness program that would fulfill the mandate of minimizing loss from a global perspective. Today, six years later, the backbone of this highly successful program is the Refuse 2 Lose train, track, and reporting compliance web site. Web technology, and our commitment to work together as a cohesive team, has transformed our LP and risk management departments from slow-moving Model T’s into highly responsive Ferraris. Pep Boys has successfully harnessed the power of web-based technology and injected new power and speed into every level of our organization.

Point-and-Click Compliance Tracking

As more organizations embrace technology as a key component to their overall retail strategy, it is crucial for loss control professionals to keep pace and adopt web-based solutions in order to obtain real-time data from across their organization from a loss reduction point of view. At Pep Boys, our Refuse 2 Lose  erformance/compliance tracking web site shows individual associate participation and compliance in the loss prevention and safety training in just four “point andclicks.” We are talking about 24,000 associates in 629 stores, five distribution centers, and 6,500 service bays, who, each month, use a toll-free interactive voice response (IVR) phone line to call in their answers to the appropriate loss prevention and safety quiz. Having that kind of real-time data in a highly accurate form is invaluable in measuring the participation andsuccess of our LP and risk management initiatives.

Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

Since we launched the Refuse 2 Lose awareness program back in 1998, we have been continually improving the program to meet our changing needs. In the beginning, we asked our vendor partner, Creative Options, to develop relevant and succinct loss prevention and safety awareness training tools that management could use to train associates in their stores and distribution centers. The resulting program was not only exciting to look at…our associates easily identified with the Refuse 2 Lose theme…but the information was also targeted directly to our unique needs. When an associate is trained with the Refuse 2 Lose program, they instantly recognized that it was no “off the shelf ” generic product, but instead it spoke to the Pep Boys environment and the challenges we face every day.

LP Solutions

As we used the program, George Sipka, our eastern division director of loss prevention, and Anshell Boggs, the risk management director, both of whom spearhead this loss control program, fine-tuned the topics and information and, working closely with Creative Options, identified ways to make the awareness program more effective. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that using web-enabled technology would be the solution to tracking all-important participation and compliance data.

Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

We asked Creative Options to assist in the development of a web site to provide us with the information we needed, since they had already piloted and launched this train, track, and reporting web site for other clients who were also serious about loss control. The solution we put in place in 2001 requires each associate to call a toll-free phone number and input their answers from the monthly training quiz via the keypad on their phone. This IVR line downloads the participation information into the web site, which then sorts and analyzes it against a current store database to generate intuitive graphical reports on the web site for easy access to pre-authorized levels of management. In our DCs, the program structure differs slightly because the loss prevention manager at the distribution center inputs the  ssociates’ answers to the quiz directly into the web site.

The benefits of using web-enabled technology are enormous, and I am particularly happy that the Refuse 2 Lose web site has become an invaluable tool to the operations side of the business, not just the loss prevention and risk management people. A good example is how this web site actually gives “time back” to the store manager.

- Digital Partner -

Prior to the Refuse 2 Lose compliance tracking web site, a store manager would have to hold as many as ten meetings a month, with two and three associates at a time, to ensure they were trained in the monthly loss prevention and safety topics. Then the managers had to ensure compliance was manually tracked via attendance sheets.This data was then transcribed, compiled, and disseminated, all of which  took even more management time.
Time is the most valuable thing for a store manager because there is only a finite amount of it available in any given day. By automating this process with associate IVR lines and a company-wide web site, the manager can now use  reed up time to improve customer  service. And let’s be honest, satisfied customers are what drives our business.

Today, operations, loss prevention, or store management can just log onto a secure web site and see in real time who in his or her store has completed their monthly quiz and know how that impacts their store’s loss. These managers can also drill down to store or individual associate quiz results to identify any potential retraining issues. Literally, hours of time are saved each month and are put to more productive use.

The Refuse 2 Lose web site has also proven to be an excellent motivational  tool for store management. Because the web site has a web page that shows individual associate winners of the monthly incentive awards, the manager can now use that information to congratulate the associate on being a winner as well as contributing to the store’s compliance performance. Any time we can provide an opportunity for the store manager to positively interact with associates on loss prevention and safety issues, it enhances our corporate culture.

As a highly visible extension of the loss prevention and risk management departments, the Refuse 2 Lose programand web site serves not only as a reliable tool to prevent, manage, and measure loss across the corporation, but it is very much in line with our corporate promise to help our customers get the most out of their cars while having a superior Pep Boys experience.

This scenario is played out every day. When a customer enters the service bay to be shown what the mechanic will be repairing on their vehicle, they are immediately handed a pair of safety goggles as per our policy. When they look around they will see mechanics sweeping the floor to ensure there aren’t any slip, trip, or fall hazards as part of our global housekeeping initiatives. This is because the Refuse 2 Lose safety topics focus on important issues and provide these associates with the training tools they need, which are reinforced by posters, quizzes, and prizes for the random winners.

Now, for example, if a store or district shows an unusual series of slip, trip, or fall incidents, we can immediately check the web site to see who at that store has taken the training and what their answers were to the “housekeeping” quiz. Based on this real-time information, we can quickly follow up with further, targeted training instead of having to wait weeks for the critical information to reach us. Quick response means we can retrain in order to prevent any more incidences, which in a global view, contributes to loss. The customer also benefits at the cash register because our loss prevention training and compliance tracking leads to reduced shortage, and this means we can keep our prices competitive…we don’t need to make up for lost profit due to spiraling shortage.

Statistical Analysis

A huge benefit of the web site is that it is extremely easy to use. Because reports are displayed in visual charts using relational data analysis software, we can now see and measure our efforts. This visibility shows trends and allows for statistical correlation between the program and the business results such as shrink, workers’ compensation, general liability, and environmental concerns. With this information we can then analyze the effectiveness of the awareness program more accurately. As a result, we use these factual insights to adjust our training materials and program approach to become even more effective.

Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

One of the reasons that we have 95 percent-plus associate compliance is that we have provided incentives to our associates for calling the IVR line with their answers to the monthly training quiz. Associates are eligible to win a range of awards ranging from Refuse 2 Lose branded clothing, electronics, sporting goods, and weekend vacation getaways. District and regional managers are also eligible for various awards and vacation trips based on performance/ compliance figures. District and  Regional managers also look at the web site to see how they are stacking up against the other divisions. No one wants to be at the bottom of the compliance graph.However, our primary focus is always on educating and training our associates, using positive, behavior-based methods in order to provide a safe and profitable environment. While incentives are nice, giving associates the knowledge to do their jobs more safely, while contributing to their store’s or DC’s overall profit performance is worth its weight in gold.

Ensuring Implementation

One of the most common problems I hear from loss prevention professionals across the retail landscape is the failure of their awareness programs to actually be  implemented at the store level. It is astounding how many loss prevention awareness programs end up buried in receiving or stacked in the corner of a too-busy store manager’s office. I’ve heard from colleagues in other companies that their store managers are forced to spend hours tracking down training materials from their supplier. Obviously for training and awareness to take place, the associate needs to be able to see and read the material on time, and our store managers have much better things to do than hunt for the location of their monthly loss prevention and safety awareness program. To combat this problem, our Refuse 2 Lose web site has an implementation and shipping page that lists exactly when the program was shipped to every location. Furthermore, the web site has a page devoted to every Refuse 2 Lose program component so that it can be used for new hire and associate orientation purposes. So there is no excuse for an associate to miss out on any loss prevention or safety topics.

One of the key benefits of a company-wide web site is the deployment of a consistent message to every store manager, every loss prevention manager, and to appropriate senior management. Pep Boys is committed to extending their brand of being “passionate car people,” and the  web site with its Refuse 2 Lose logo and tagline “Car People Refuse 2 Lose” further reinforces this brand. More than that, by providing a comprehensive performance/compliance web site that is measurable, it shows the user that the company really cares about providing their associates with the resources they need in order to do their jobs well.

Evolving for Effectiveness

The Refuse 2 Lose program and performance/compliance measurable web site has been so successful and the return on investment so obvious that our president has authorized budget year to year. One of the reasons this initiative has been successful is that we continually look for ways to make it more productive and more useful to every level of the organization.

In 2003, we are also personalizing the Refuse 2 Lose performance web site for the various types of users. To encourage even more consistent use of the web site, we have created a “My Refuse 2 Lose Page” that immediately connects to the most relevant reports that the user would most often use. For example, a store manager’s “My Page” might immediately default to a list of exceptions (associates who haven’t yet called in their quiz answers) or winners in their store. Again, this not only saves time, it enhances the experience for the user. Our goal is to make this a one-stop shopping experience for all levels of management. To this end, we plan to provide a loss control policy-and procedure web area and a manager’s game page that relates to the Refuse 2 Lose program.

Naturally, we are looking at adding on-line associate loss prevention and safety training. However, it is a matter of ensuring each of our stores has the necessary technology in place. Since we already offer on-line training in our operations, this is the next logical step to minimizing loss across the corporation.

Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

In your organization

As the loss prevention industry matures  from the old days of cops and robbers to today’s business-oriented professional who plays an important role in the organization’s entire profit and loss picture, introducing web-based performance and compliance sites as an integral part of your loss control program is vital.

The power of real-time information, coupled with a company-wide resource that saves time and increases productivity, while enhancing training and implementation, is invaluable. We are fortunate at Pep Boys because we have a senior executive staff who readily understands the value proposition of this program. You can tell your organization is ready to take this important step into web-enabled technology when your loss prevention director or vice president views loss globally instead of just“catching the bad guys.”

The direct partnership between the loss prevention and risk management departments at Pep Boys is what makes this program work so well, as we are true partners in controlling loss, no matter where it occurs. That and having an excellent relationship with our  vendor-partner, who provides us with unparalleled service, support and creative solutions to the many challenges we face.

Technologically speaking, your organization does not have to be early adopters of leading-edge technology to take advantage of performance/ compliance web sites. If you are able to connect your loss prevention department and store managers to theInternet or company intranet and use a browser such as Microsoft Explorer and security password features, you can implement a performance/compliance web site. Any concerns that we had with outsourcing the development of the web site and the storage of data was also addressed by our vendor-partner, and we have had reliable, secure performance.

I’ve been in the loss prevention industry for twenty-seven years and have seen my fair share of innovation. While technology continues to provide the loss prevention professional with new tools such as biometrics and other data-driven models, I am convinced that using web enabled performance/compliance web sites is one of the most far reaching, cost-effective tools that an organization can use to minimize loss. And minimizing loss is why they pay us.


Web Technology: The Backbone to Pep Boys’ Refuse 2 Lose Awareness Program

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