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A lesson in loss prevention.

As we get older, it's interesting to reflect on those seemingly small incidents that, through the perspective only time can offer, end up changing the course of our lives.

For me, one such incident actually involved a potential career in retail.

Flashback with me for a moment to the mid-1980s. These were my formative teen years and, like so many people in that age group, I really had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I just needed to make some money for pizza, dates and concert tickets (not necessarily in that order).

My sister worked at a major toy retailer that would typically increase staff during the holidays. So when Christmas rolled around, I applied and, with a good word from Sis, I was hired.

I assumed I would just be stocking shelves or running a register, but interestingly enough I was placed in loss prevention and security. It's just a guess, but my stature may have had something to do with that decision.

In short order, I actually learned I loved the job. It wasn't all about catching shoplifters, as I originally thought. There was a lot of paperwork, logging in high-value items, checking doors and signing off on receiving reports.

I learned a lot about the different types of loss that can occur in a retail environment and how you can mitigate those losses.

One thing I learned that really struck me and stays with me today is how much loss actually impacts the profitability of an operation. I still remember the store security manager explaining that when someone steals one item, the impact is far greater than the missing item. Fie showed us a chart illustrating how if one $50 item is stolen, the store had to sell three or four of that item to make up for the loss. This was my first lesson in margins.

This lesson stuck with me. It's a lesson you should certainly share with your employees as you discuss loss. One great resource that can help in this discussion is NRHA's Three Pennies of Profit video, which can be found at

While the video is not directly related to shrink, it does use a similar premise to illustrate the impact that one lost or damaged item can have on an operation's profitability. The video and supporting study guides are free for all retailers and would make a great activity for any store meeting.

In this month's feature on loss prevention, beginning on Page 46, we talk to retail loss prevention experts about best practices for securing your store. As you use this as a guide for reviewing your own loss prevention practices, make sure to share the potential impact of loss with your employees. It made an impact on a young kid back in the 1980s, so it's possible it may hit home with your employees today.

Unfortunately, shortly after my time tending the toy aisles, my career in retail loss prevention came to an unceremonious end. I was sure I wanted to pursue this as a career and eventually switched jobs to work with a private security firm that provided loss prevention services for retailers.

My first assignment--working loss prevention for a major liquor and grocery retailer in East Los Angeles. While I was passionate about helping retailers protect their assets, I was more passionate about not getting stabbed or shot. Would the assignment have been at a swimwear shop in Laguna Beach, who knows?

Dan M. Tratensek, Publisher
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Title Annotation:Taking Care of Business
Author:Tratensek, Dan M.
Publication:Hardware Retailing
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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