Before you read this, you may want to go back and read the article about the Loss Prevention Foundation’s learning day held at The University of Indianapolis on March 12. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. I won’t recap the event again here; what I want to talk about is a theme that kept recurring at the event, both in formal presentations on stage and in informal discussions off stage.
That theme was “Why should I pursue a career in retail loss prevention?” It seems that few people who have achieved success in the field actually got into it on purpose. The real reason for that first LP job basically fell into two categories—those who fell into it accidentally and saw the position as temporary, and those who were either criminal justice majors or were interested in eventually joining a police force, the FBI, or the US Secret Service.
The night before the Training Day, a group of us went to dinner. The group consisted of professors from the university, members of the Loss Prevention Foundation, retail LP solution providers and retail LP leaders. As it turned out, an in-depth discussion of the value of a retail LP career dominated the conversation. Almost no one at the dinner had “chosen” a career in LP.
A common refrain of those who studied criminal justice was “By the time I was accepted to a police agency, I was making too much money in retail.” Those not aiming for a law enforcement career echoed the same thing. “The money kept getting better, so I stayed.”
As Kevin Lynch from Sensormatic would say on stage the next day, “Crime does pay!” He was referring to the dinner conversation.
The fact is that those who are successful and advance into retail management (LP or not) will eventually make more money than most in law enforcement. That’s a strong motivation for a retail career, but not the only one. Retail is a fast-paced, ever-changing world, and there are numerous sectors to choose from; specialty stores, home improvement, department stores, convenience stores, grocery and even food service.
Not to mention, it’s safer than law enforcement.
So, the obvious question is, “If I do decide to pursue a career in retail loss prevention, where do I start, and what do I do?”
Here are some tips:
1. A good start is to get a job in retail, even part time if you’re still in school.
2. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn retail. Be nosy. Ask questions.
3. Get your LPQ (Loss Prevention Qualified) and/or LPC (Loss Prevention Certified) from the Loss Prevention Foundation. I informally refer to the LPQ and LPC, respectively, as the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in retail LP. Go to the Foundation’s website to learn more.
4. Find a mentor. This is not always easy but can be invaluable. When you are lucky enough to have a knowledgable, successful person who takes an interest in you, it will help guide you in your quest for advancement.
5. Stay up to date in the retail LP industry. Subscribe to LP Magazine and the daily LPM Insider e-newsletter. Both are free.
6. Learn everything you can about retail and LP technology. The pace of change is incredible, and most agree that technology will influence almost every part of retail and LP going forward. It’s not cops and robbers anymore.
7. Get a college degree if you can. In today’s world, it helps, and is almost expected. Enroll in all classes that involve retail, LP, IT and leadership.
8. Let people know your career goals. Someone once told me that “you probably won’t get there if no one knows where you want to go.”
9. Be good at what you do. Work hard, learn, and always go the extra mile. Also, maintain a positive, can-do attitude. You will get recognized automatically.
OK, so I am more advanced in my retail LP career. What about me? The answer is easy. Most of the above applies to you, too. And, it’s also your job to support all of this for the up-and-comers.
I have been in and out of retail for over forty years, both in LP and operations. And, yes, I fell into my career accidentally. So, take it from me. Done right, it’s fun and rewarding. And it pays.