Let's Play Some Defense!

It’s a well know Sports adage that you can’t be a stand out winner without being strong on defense. The very same holds true for the Convenience Store Business. Viewing Security Tapes from your stores Video System is one excellent way of practicing “Strong Defense” (for those that don’t have Security Cameras, this very same information has meaning for you too).Over the years i’ve had many Managers complain that it’s darn near a full time job to watch Security Videos. My reply has always been: “The object is not to watch all the Video’s, it is to watch the right videos!” The question than becomes: with the limited time that you have, how do you know which Videos to watch? Here are a few thoughts that might help you decide.

Manually scan your Cash Register tape and category totals each day, looking for obvious theft tips. Things like too many “No Sales” (each store is different. for-instance, a store that has coin operated newspaper racks will have more “No Sales”, becuase customers often ask for change). “No Sales” are important, because they can be an indication that siomeone is “playing” in your Cash register! One savy Cashier used to put 25 cents in the cash Register every morning and would then ring up 1 cent, each time she wanted to “play” in the register, thus eluding the “No Sale” indicator. So one of the things you look for when you scan is small Register “Rings” or amounts that don’t belong in that category. I once found a 50c “Ring” in
the Beer category and realized that we did not have any Beer items that we sold for 50 cents. Using the exact time of day of that 50 cent Sale, we went to the Video Tape and found our Cashier selling a 4-pack Wine Cooler, to what turned out to be College buddies – turns out he had a lot of “buddies”. Even as he was being hand cuffed and taken away, he was trying desperately to make me understand, that he was not stealing, he was merely “discounting”, for friends that did not have much money!

Perhaps the greatest “Theft Indicator” of all is knowing your “ASPC’s”! Average Sale Per Customer, is determined by dividing your total Inside Sales by your total # of Customers. Thus $5,000 Inside Sales, generated by 2,000 Customers equals a $2.50 ASPC for the day. Done right, it takes 8 -10 weeks Inside Sales information to lay down a base (take out prior week and add new ones to keep it current), the information generated is priceless. It can and should be done not only by the day of the week, but also by the shift.

The results place you in a position to be in genuine control of your Store and its destiny! Warning: The data you compile, must be coupled with an understanding that there are many variables: EX: Cold or Rainy Weather often results in people buying gas but not coming into the store, thus lowering that days ASPC. A Cashier with an outgoing personality is going to have a higher ASPC than one who has a poor personality. Great Lottery sales will lower the ASPC, etc., etc.

Once compiled, it should be used to compare each Cashiers daily results to “average”. If you listen, the pages will almost talk to you! Do not be disturbed by Cashiers having lower than average ASPC’s, look instead for the Cashier’s that are always lower – especially when the differences between their daily vs average ASPC’s are getting more dramatic (going undetected
almost always brings out even more greed in a dishonest Cashier).

None of this tells you they are stealing, rather it is directing you toward the Security Tapes that you absolutely need to watch.

After three weeks of sending a Manager information to watch certain tapes on the same Cashier, i called and asked where things stood. She replied that this Cashier was the friendliest, most cooperative Cashier she had and she knew she’d never steal from her. The following week I high lighted a Cashier, who i thought just happened to have the same first name, from a
neighboring store who worked only one night, but had an ASPC of some 90 cents lower than average. A few days later, the Manager called and told me he watched the video and had observed the Cashier “Under Ring” several sales in a row – turned out to be the same cooperative Cashier from the other store! 247, 3rd shift Customers X 90 cents = $222.30 – I’d be friendly and cooperative too!

Now that you’ve gotten this information or perhaps just reminded of things you already knew, get busy and put it to work! To paraphrase, quite often “the best offense is a good defense!”

Jim Callahan, Partner
Convenience Store Solutions


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