Pittsburgh’s economy is thriving these days, and there’s no better time to own a shop or small business. Security is always a concern in the retail industry, especially shoplifting prevention. A stolen item here or there can add up to thousands of dollars in losses after a few months! Many business owners these days use high security locks and security systems to protect their merchandise.
These measures are important, and you should definitely consult a locksmith in Pittsburgh to make sure your locks are solid enough. However, no technology in the world can match your most valuable security asset of all: your employees. Your workers are your eyes on the ground, the people who are there on a moment-to-moment basis, day in and day out, the front line between your business, your valued customers and any potential troublemakers. Kind of important, right?
Part of job training for your employees should be in safety and security protocols, and how to respond to difficult situations. Just a few skills and a bit of awareness can go a long way in an emergency.
The single most important aspect of security that your employees can help with is also great for business! Instruct your employees to be very attentive to everyone who enters the store. (Hanging a bell on the door is an easy way to make sure no-one comes in or out unnoticed.) They should greet every customer personally, and ask if they need help with anything. If they want to browse on their own, strike up a conversation if it’s quiet and they seem open to it, and if not just make eye contact every so often.
Honest customers appreciate the attention, while shoplifters are unlikely to try anything if they feel like they’re being watched.
Employees should keep an eye out for customers leaving in different clothes than they arrived, taking items into changing rooms, slipping things into shopping bags or baby strollers, and other suspicious behavior, as well as incorrectly marked merchandise, empty boxes and open counters.
Of course, with all of this, it’s important not to come on too strong! Staff members should be tactful, staying attentive without making customers feel like your employees are suspicious of them. For this reason, be sure to hire people with good people sense who can walk this fine line.
If there is a problem, you need a way to mobilize your team without alarming customers in the store.
Plain-clothes security guards are a good idea because they can step in to maintain order without impinging on a friendly, welcoming retail atmosphere. You should come up with a code that your employees can use over the intercom or with the guards, to warn everyone who needs to know that action is required.
Locks, keys and security systems
Every member of your team must be comfortable with the security equipment in the store, especially if you have high-tech cameras and alarms. Whenever the local locksmith comes by to maintain the equipment, ask him to give your staff a run-down on how to use it, including how to handle false alerts.
Keys, especially master keys, should only be given to people who need them. The keys to jewelry counters, safes, important document drawers, etc. should be kept in secure places, not just wherever’s convenient.
Cash handling and register safety
Before anything else, get technical concerns out of the way. You can’t be too careful with registers. Hire a professional locksmith, preferably one who specializes in commercial security, to check your registers and safes to make sure they are secure, reliable and up to date.
Once that’s established, come up with a clear routine for working with the registers, especially at closing, opening and shift changes. Cashiers should be accompanied by another employee, preferably a security guard, whenever they have to move the drawer. Never leave more cash than necessary in the drawer overnight. Each cashier should have a unique access code, both to make record-keeping easier and so everyone feels responsible.
Train for all situations
Even if employees know how to act in a crisis, it can be difficult when the moment comes. Confronting a shoplifter is uncomfortable at best, and culprits will often become aggressive, trying to intimidate the staff into leaving them alone. A manager should always be available, and instruct your employees that they can call the manager, a security guard or the police if they feel unsafe. To prepare for these situations, you can lead your staff in role-playing sessions and practice using polite but firm language.
At the end of the day, a happy employee is an employee who has your back, who goes the extra mile to protect the store. Get to know every team member personally, listen to their concerns and get their opinions on changes in the store. After all, you’re all in the business together!