Covid-19 News

How to manage risk… in a post lockdown economy

In the face of budgetary constraints, getting more from less or only paying for security “when you need it” are appealing concepts… they protect people’s jobs and careers.

But can such agile business concepts be realised quickly to meet the immediate challenges posed by a post lockdown economy? In other words, how will it work in practice?

That’s been the question retailers have been asking…

Since publication of our recent article, retailers have been enquiring about the practical application of a security model that uses resources simply as they are needed. A sort of on demand resource where you “pay as you go.”

Obviously this is a topic on the tip of the tongue of every risk management professional worth their salt. Post lockdown, the economy is struggling to bounce back. The national news programmes are replete with announcements of redundancies, and many of them are in the retail sector. Storm clouds are gathering ahead.

And it may be that your own risk management  department is to be slimmed down. Perhaps you are personally concerned about job security. In any event the best way to protect people’s jobs and careers is to take what you have got and to get the very best you can with it. So being able to resource your risk management in new and innovative ways is not only about better use of company resources during challenging times, it is also a way to demonstrate value to the business, both as a department and as individuals.

Businesses are contracting in the High Street. Some of that is due to lack of demand, as would be customers are concerned about their own employment prospects and so rein in their spending. And some of that is people simply not returning to the high street and either doing without, or transferring their business to online fulfilment where they feel “safer”.

As a result of this contraction the question should be asked how you could usefully deploy staff that you suddenly find have time on their hands, whilst still providing value to a business?

One of the best ways that retailers can cut costs is to share resources. By harnessing technology and people to work for multiple businesses the concept of a Community Security model is appealing.

Most would agree that bricks and mortar has an important role to play in the future of retailing. However, at the same time it seems likely that risk management departments will be presiding over reducing estates. So why not have all store EAS systems linked to one monitoring centre that deploys guards to incidents as and when they happen to any business member of that Community.

Similarly, why run separate CCTV systems linked to control rooms, perhaps of varying quality, when by scaling the CCTV system up to cover multiple retailers’ stores economies of scale mean you can have the most sophisticated CCTV with face recognition and 24/7 monitoring, backed by a team of people who are deployed appropriately as required. Most of all, ongoing/running costs are likely to be reduced for better security. If you don’t believe it, then get in touch and I will share analysis of this very solution and the economies that can be made based upon actual retail situations across the country!

Many feel increasingly certain that the Community Security model is likely to be increasingly adopted by retailers struggling to keep physical security costs in check. However, what about better utilisation of existing resource? The key here is to engage in work not for the sake of it, but in producing results that will cut loss.

The importance of using greeters is well established in terms of driving down crime. However, often this role is filled by whichever member of staff happens to be available. But there are real advantages to having  a professional, trained security guard on the door who is in uniform – especially in the post lockdown era.

First of all their presence adds to the perception in the minds of customers that they are “safe”. They are greeted professionally by a professional. Second, and importantly, those considering entering the premises to commit crime may decide the next store may be a softer target.

The training given to guards should provide additional security benefits too. For example spotting potential trouble makers and having them identify themselves by removal of masks as well as knowledge of how to detain individuals and deal with “Covid attacks,” where criminals professing to be infected attack or threaten staff, who cannot be expected to deal with these complex situations.

Helping to explain measures taken to provide a Covid safe shopping experience to customers, armed with an understanding of escalation issues and de-escalation techniques as well as dealing with features of the new normal such as non-compliance by customers with the legal requirement to wear a mask, is all part of the professional guard’s training.

We are all aware of the significant increase in online commerce. Where your business offers a multi-channel shopping experience, consideration can be given to using security staff to help deal with the massive increases in volume of transactions and the commensurate fraud threat. For example using security night staff to help with fraud screening of yes/no referrals not only leads to better protection for the business and fewer losses, but also more speedily serviced customers.

Every business needs to undertake an LP audit. Using security resources to complete this audit offers a number of benefits. First of all, you are actually completing the audit! And it is being done in a timely and highly visible way – both great attributes of any shrink deterrent. Second, LP audit activities will have positive effects on stock availability and so sales and customer satisfaction. Having a greater understanding of what your true stock position is through regular counts is a worthwhile use of labour for both reasons. Also audit procedures such as tag compliance, for example to detect and correct over tagging, will improve stock security and reduce the cost of tagging! The audit should lead to continuous reporting which in itself allows you to see the progress being made week to week to evaluate the value to the business of these activities.

Finally perhaps it is time for businesses to consider outsourcing or sharing LP resource with other retailers for coaching and training purposes. Again this achieves economies of scale. Also by having more information concentrated in the hands of fewer people it gives those people the ability to better understand what is happening across a broad territory comprising multiple retailers rather than each retailer acting in isolation. It also makes for easier “data sharing” so that security decisions can be made in a more timely and accurate manner. To this end, retailers might consider sharing a key resource by outsourcing, say, their Area Manager functions.
Whatever your view of the above suggestions, the one thing we do know about the unknown future is this.

Things are gonna change…

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