Newsagents ought to read the story from The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday about the newsagency employee caught stealing more than $400 a day.
While it’s good to read about a conviction my work with newsagents tells me that only a fraction of theft in newsagencies is detected. here’s a reminder of what I wrote on employee theft last year:
Management tip: How to reduce employee theft in your newsagency
Retailers too often struggle with cutting the cost of employee and customer theft. They ignore opportunities to block theft and turn their backs on understanding the cost in their business.
Here is best practice advice which, if followed, will reduce the cost of theft in any retail business.
- Establish a theft policy and stick to it. See below.
- Check references of prospective employees.
- Ask candidates if they would agree to a background check.
- Only sell what you arrive, bring into the store, through Point of Sale software. If you track it you can know if it has been stolen or not. If you do not track it who knows if it is stolen. [Most often businesses I work with to resolve theft issues would have found it sooner had they been doing this.]
- Track ALL sales – by scanning, touch screen button or PLU (product look up code), a hot key on your computer screen.
- Stop all department sales, sales where the employee gets to enter the amount of the item.
- Scan out ALL returns, products which are returned to suppliers.
- Undertake regular spot stock take throughout the business. The discrepancy between what you have and what the system has reflects theft.
- Reorder stock using your retail management software. This stops poor buying decisions. It also identified stock theft and employee fraud around stock.
- Use employee initials, codes or bar codes against each sale. Yes, this adds time to each sale. The benefits far outweigh the time cost.
- Set an end of shift balance target of $5.00. Many retailers achieve this – it takes discipline.
- Change your system passwords regularly. Make it a condition of employment that these passwords are never shared.
- Do random, during the day, register balance checks. Check that the cash your computer system thinks should be in the cash drawer is what is actually in the cash drawer.
- Use your software to check and report on behavior which could indicate employee theft.
- Follow your suspicions regardless. Put your business ahead of friendships..
The cost to any retail business of customer and employee theft can be significantly reduced. The keys are retail owner and management engagement, full use of the software and relentless application of a zero tolerance approach.
Here is a suggested THEFT POLICY for employees to read and sign.
- Theft, any theft, is a crime against this business, its owners, employees and others who rely on us for their income.
- If you discover any evidence or have any suspicion of theft, please report it to the business owner or most senior manager possible immediately. Doing so could save a considerable cost to the business.
- We have a zero tolerance policy on theft. All claims will be reported to law enforcement authorities for their investigation.
- From time to time we have the business under discrete surveillance in an effort to reduce theft. This may mean that you are photographed or recorded in some other way. By working here you accept this as a condition of employment.
- New employees are to provide permission for a police check prior to commencement of employment.
- Cash is never to be left unattended outside the cash drawer or a safe within the business.
- Credit and banking card payments are not to be accepted unless the physical card is presented and all required processes are followed for processing these.
- Employees caught stealing with irrefutable evidence face immediate dismissal to the extent permitted by local labour laws.
- Employees are not permitted to remove inventory from the store without permission.
- Employees are not permitted to provide a refund to a customer without appropriate management permission.
- Employees are not permitted to complete their own sales.
- Every dollar stolen from the business by customers and or employees can cost us up to four dollars to recover. This is why vigilance on theft is mission critical for our retail store.
Take theft seriously.