"I'd like you to paint this room," she said to the painter.
"OK, let me ask you a few questions," he replied.
"Before you ask questions, let me tell you what I want to do. I want these two walls painted, but we're letting the other two go for another time. "
"And I like the furniture right where it is, so you can just paint around it."
"And I haven't chosen the color yet, but you can get started."
"OK, so now what questions do you have?"
"I noticed", said the painter, "that there are several rather large holes in the wall behind the furniture. It's as if someone punched them, or hit them with a large hammer. We'll need to repair them before any painting is done."
"Well", replied the woman; "We don't notice the holes since we put the furniture in front of them. Is that going to be extra?"
"The painting project won't be complete without repairing the holes, AND moving the furniture out of the way, AND painting all four walls. It will have some noticeable cost savings in the long run by taking care of everything now. The results will be much better and repainting will not have to be done for years. It's my job to notice and patch the holes, and have the repairs match the texture of the walls. You seem to be attached to the placement of the furniture. It's only hiding the problems. We'll move it out of the way and repair everything. You'll have more options without needing to hide the problems. With the proper preparation, resources and tools, you'll be delighted with the results."
Following the woman's instructions, the painter may deliver exactly what was requested but gain a reputation for delivering poor quality. The woman might get what she wanted, but quickly find that she wasted money on a quick fix that did not really improve the room.
Of course, this is all a metaphor for establishing a loss prevention program for a retailer or restaurant. The loss prevention professional may get requests to assess and perhaps deliver a loss control program. The request may come about because of large inventory discrepancies, high food cost, or a great amount of mysterious losses. They may be directed to install cameras, ignoring any assessment or review of processes to find the "holes in the wall." With a limited budget the request for loss prevention services may be limited in scope by only painting half of the walls in the room. Or the owner may be so attached to current processes and procedures, they don't want to "move the furniture" out of the way.
A good loss prevention program starts with an assessment of the current processes in operation. It often includes educating why policies are examined for thoroughness and compliance. A professional will find the holes where profitability is sifting away and repair them by applying sound loss prevention principles. Procedures are assessed to determine and resolve vulnerabilities to internal theft, external fraud, and the violence, emotional trauma, and loss associated with robbery. Adequate audit processes determine if policies, procedures, and operational expectations are in compliance.
Action plans and effective follow up are incorporated to improve performance, gain compliance, reduce losses, and increase profitability. The infusion of security, safety, and loss prevention awareness throughout every level of the organization is part of a comprehensive plan.
The furniture is repositioned for greater efficiencies and the holes are repaired and blend in with the rest of the walls. All of the walls have been painted and everyone is enjoying the new color. Good results are in the details.
For more information on security, safety, loss and crime prevention for restaurants, visit www.LossBusters.com. For daily tips on restaurant loss prevention, follow on Twitter @LossBusters
D.B. Libby Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonalds Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.