EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic for our March-April print magazine. The author’s characteristic tone and wit may seem out of place during the grave crisis that many retailers and loss prevention professionals are currently facing. However, his points about personal integrity and professional development are certainly applicable now. Therefore we have chosen to publish this column for our digital subscribers. We hope you enjoy and find the content valuable.
People in the LP community who know me will not be the least bit surprised that I am writing a column that has something to do with golf. I have a reputation for playing a lot of golf. Let me say right up front that I do not play enough. The sport of golf has been a source of pleasure to me. I have had the opportunity to play golf at some really beautiful places and, more importantly, with some really beautiful people. For the most part, my golf has been with other LP professionals or those in the industry.
So what’s golf got to do with it? Here’s my take on it. Golf is a game of personal integrity and self-improvement. So much of what the LP professional faces in his or her career also revolves around personal integrity and a commitment to self-improvement.
Golf is the only game I know of where you call a penalty or foul on yourself. If you violate a rule, it is your responsibility to give yourself a penalty. No one blows a whistle or throws a flag or sends you to the penalty box.
It is also your responsibility to report all the facts when making an apprehension. Sometimes you just plain mess up, and you have a bad stop. Many times it is just you and the customer when you realize that they do not have the merchandise. That’s when you have a choice. You can call a foul on yourself, report the incident, and suffer the consequences. Or you don’t report the foul. You can hide the infraction and run the risk no one saw what happened and hope no one will ever complain. It is entirely up to you to abide by the rules or not.
Golf is a game where you are not allowed to move your ball, improve your lie, or advance it closer to the hole unless you take a stroke penalty. However, sometimes your ball ends up in some long grass, behind a tree, or in a divot. If no one is looking, you could move it a few inches and make it easier to hit. You can get a better score and maybe even win your match by just improving your lie a little.
You may also be able to get a better score on apprehensions if you do not follow all the steps of your apprehension standards. Maybe you lost sight of the suspect for a few moments, or you really did not see them drop the merchandise into the bag. But you stopped the suspect, and they had the goods. You improved your lie a little bit and scored with the apprehension. You win.
You may also be in an employee interrogation, and the subject is admitting to anything and everything. You haven’t had a big case in a long time, and you say to yourself “jackpot.” You get an admission from the employee far in excess of what they could have stolen. You improved your lie a little and scored big. You win. Or did you? It is entirely up to you.
Golf is a game, not unlike any other endeavor, where the more you practice, the better you can get. If you are really serious about getting better, you can take lessons. You can even invest in the newest technology, which may allow you to hit the ball farther and straighter. Practice, training, and technology can make you a better player. The same is true in your career in loss prevention.
You can get better at apprehensions, interviews, auditing, speaking with management, and writing reports the more you do it. Experience is the best teacher to improvement. Practicing your LP profession is taking action, being assertive, and preparing yourself for the various outcomes.
Want to get even better? Take some lessons. Read everything you can get your hands on. Take interviewing classes. Take a presentation class. Beg your supervisor to attend a convention. Then practice some more with your new training.
Lastly, you may not be the buyer of new technology or systems, but you are likely to be the user. If your company has a new CCTV application, audit program, or exception-reporting system, learn everything you can about it. Become an LP techie expert. You will get better with practice, lessons, and new technology.
You don’t have to take up golf to get better in your profession, but you should realize that loss prevention is a career that requires personal integrity and affords you the opportunity for self-improvement. It is entirely up to you.
In the meantime, call me, and we’ll go tee it up.