For small business owners, the holiday season is both a dream and a nightmare. The significant increase in shoppers does wonders for a bottom line and generates unparalleled brand awareness. The downfall? With these benefits comes the need to hire additional staff members, conceptualize and execute holiday promotional strategies, and manage daily operations while tending to seasonal obligations with family and friends. So what can a business owner do to leverage the benefits of this season without completely losing it? Start early and plan ahead, of course!
Setting a Plan
Each component of your holiday preparation strategy will be equally important. Effective promotion and the addition of temporary team members are two major contributors to a successful plan, but there’s another component that is often overlooked and every bit as necessary – holiday security. As your store begins to fill up, dishonest shoppers and employees will see it as a more appealing place to take what they’d like without stopping to pay the bill. According to a recent Forbes article,
“…United States retailers are losing $60 Billion a year to shrinkage, up from $57 Billion in 2014. Additionally, this report – the US Retail Fraud Survey – identified employee theft as the single biggest cause of loss to retailers.”
Obviously, a profit decrease is exactly the opposite of what you’d hope for the busiest quarter of the year. This is why setting a plan to manage this season’s larger crowds will be crucial to the success of your holiday preparation efforts. If you’re unsure of where and how to start, we’re here to help! Check out the following holiday security tips below to build the foundation for a successful theft-prevention strategy.
1. Identify Hot Spots
Every storefront has at least one area where risk for theft is higher. Whether the reason be that it’s simply a blind spot or that the products displayed are easier to grab and conceal, it’s important that you take a moment to identify potential for theft and develop a solution. Once you’ve done this, inform each of your employees and assign responsibilities for protecting high theft areas throughout your storefront.
2. Understand Internal Theft
This form of theft is often overlooked, but every bit as common. The Forbes article pointed out an interesting finding from the 27th Annual Retail Theft Survey released June 2015 by consulting company Jack L. Hayes International:
“On a per case average, dishonest employees steal over 6 times the amount stolen by shoplifters ($825.36 vs $133.80).”
Internal theft can include instances where employees: steal product directly, take cash from the register, and abuse in-store discounts and codes. Be clear and firm when it comes to delivering information on your business’s guidelines and consequences in regards to internal theft. It’s important that each employee understands what situations would be considered theft.
3. Keep a Full Staff
Many small business owners make the mistake of skimping on staffing during busy seasons. It’s unrealistic to assume that employees will be available should you call them without previous notice when things get swamped. Create a system for “on-call” shifts during the busy season. Ask your employees how quickly they could be at the store should they be called, and plan ahead. Even better? Try to keep as many employees on hand as possible to begin with. Track consumer behaviors from past years to try to keep up with staffing during busier days/times.
4. Focus on Quality Service
It’s much more difficult for thieves to leave a store without paying if employees have been attentive during their entire stay. Scott Kreisberg, CEO of One Step Retail Solutions brought to light the fact that Wal-Mart discovered having greeters reduced shoplifting by as much as 35%. While hovering over your customers is never in good taste, reminding your employees to greet and check up on guests is more important than ever at this time. Ideally, your employees should be providing this high level of service all year-round. The holidays are really just a great opportunity for your team members to fine tune their customer service skills as they manage larger crowds.
5. Increase Online Security
The security level of your company’s site will be another important element to consider in your planning. Determine where you’re vulnerable to online spammers and eliminate potential risks with effective protocol. A few tips here:
• Inform employees of potential for online risk that could arise via use of company email
• Protect all computer systems with updated spam and virus protection
• Update forms and CAPTCHAs on your site to avoid spam
• Solidify transaction security by confirming services with your financial software provider
6. Invest in Your Management
A solid management team is your greatest ally. Discuss potential risks and brainstorm solutions with your management team. Get them involved in the process of keeping your business profitable this holiday season by collecting security/service ideas and implementing those with the highest potential for contributing to a successful holiday season. Showing your appreciation with a bonus or holiday gift will also help boost management morale, ultimately leading to increased motivation to help you maintain a solid bottom line this season.
7. Pay Careful Attention to the Numbers
From employee paychecks to cash tills and transactions, give the numbers special attention this season. Even if you trust your accountant to deliver accurate reports on the money going in and out of your business, taking a look yourself may prove beneficial in tracking errors.
8. Keep an Eye Out
Store surveillance is a must. If you’ve already installed a camera system, be sure to check it for errors and provide necessary maintenance before the holiday shopping season begins. If you have yet to invest in an effective store surveillance solution, now’s the time! Shop around for an affordable option that will provide the surveillance capabilities you need. Our suggestion? The wi-fi enabled izon view.
You’ve got the tips, now it’s time to create your strategy! Be sure to consider each tip as it applies to your business and its setup. Your business is unique, and your strategy will need to be tailored to it. Once you’ve got your plan and its execution strategy in place, relax and enjoy the season!