Telling NACUFS college c-store operators they were “pioneers” in the future of convenience retailing Tim Lindblom warned attendees of the 2013 NACUFS Neighborhood Retail Market Workshop to pay more attention to loss prevention if they wanted to achieve optimum performance in their stores.

“Many operations do not track the shrink they experience, even as it remains a major drag on financial performance,” he said. “Very often no concerted effort is made to address security issues until the problem becomes so serious that a response can no long longer be avoided.

“That isn’t loss prevention,” he added. “That’s loss reaction.”

Lindblom cited research that suggests the biggest risk for c-store security losses comes from employees, adding that experience shows the majority of employees will take liberties “when in need or when given a risk-free environment.”

Ensuring that the c-store environment does not offer such “risk-free” opportunities is a key strategy in minimizing shrink, he said. In the course of his presentation, Lindblom provided dozens of examples of common c-store “scams” that enable dishonest employees to game the POS system or facilitate theft by friends or accomplices.

It’s important to understand how such schemes are employed and to structure financial procedures, loss prevention strategies and technology safeguards to prevent them, he said. That means implementing systems to review POS “exceptions” of various kinds and making sure employees know that sales records are being regularly audited.

Large retail chains usually employ technology to constantly evaluate transaction patterns and in some cases even movement of hands and items at register stations, he added.

Lindblom, a principal with Gulf Coast Loss Prevention (a company which offers a variety of technology solutions to audit retail transactions and exceptions) described a number of other types of “Sweetheart” and credit/debit card fraud techniques. He also offered advice on how better-structured store procedures and technology solutions can minimize these and other loss types.

“Think loss prevention, not loss reaction,” he re-emphasized. “It is critical that your employees are aware of your concerns, established protocol and the consequences if violations are discovered.”

The Neighborhood Retail Market Workshop was offered as a preconference educational event at the annual NACUFS national conference. It also featured nearly a dozen other speakers and workshops, the NACUFS “Best in the Business” C-store awards luncheon and a poster table session to introduce attendees to new convenience retailing products offered by the workshop’s sponsors.