What is the most important skillset a loss prevention professional has to bring to the table? Outstanding verbal and negotiation skills? Excellent investigative talent? A strong interest in justice? Or is it the ability to follow a roadmap?
Measuring Loss Prevention Performance
Before we look at which skills are needed, let’s have a quick look at how most retailers measure the performance of their loss prevention professionals.
Most of the time, they are evaluated by how many cases they have uncovered and investigated, have many security audits they performed, and the actual shrinkage numbers. These goals lend themselves naturally to evaluations because you can formulate them into a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely manner.
The Big Drawback
But they have one huge drawback!
They do not consider the soft skills that any highly successful loss prevention manager should have. These soft skills are incredibly important to establish initiatives and policies as well as an effective company culture that helps proactively prevent shrinkage — instead of continually paying “Gotcha!”
By measuring how many shoplifters someone caught last month or how many dishonest employees they have found out, retailers are actually doing themselves a disfavor by in fact discounting these important skill sets that would prevent losses more effectively long term then the wait and see approach.
So, without further ado, here are the top five soft skills that you should be looking out for:
1) Excellent Leadership Skills
As a loss prevention manager, you wear a lot of hats. You have to teach store employees; you coach executives, and you raise awareness within your organization. But first and foremost, a successful loss prevention manager is a role that requires exceptional leadership skills, such as decisiveness, consistency, and selfless service to others. And of course, you must command respect and authority and be passionate about what you do.
2) Relationship Building
According to Hoda Ilyavi, the executive director of Field Services at LP Innovations, the ability to build trusting relationships is the number one most important skill for loss prevention specialists: “Whether you are working for an outsource service provider or an internal team, your success relies on your ability to work in tandem with your retail partners. Yes, our work requires us to handle negative situations. However, our success comes from our ability to identify opportunities to teach, educate and be a resource to assist in success.”
3) Dedication To Excellence
Mediocre efforts will reap average results. So, as the loss prevention manager it is up to you how you approach shrinkage. Will you dress security guards in standout uniforms and place them in prominent locations all over your stores to act as a deterrent but otherwise have a hands-off policy? Or do you have a long-term loss prevention roadmap that lays out corporate-wide awareness programs, invests in the latest technology, and deploys a holistic approach including vendors and employees?
To excel in your job, an aspiration to excellence and a constant commitment to learning and improvement is imperative as a loss prevention manager.
As a successful loss prevention manager, you live and breathe shrinkage. You talk about it all the time and let no opportunity go by that could be used to raise awareness or educate someone. It is much easier to get others excited about your cause if you are truly passionate about it.
5) Analytics & Data-Driven Mindset
It is safe to say that the more you know, the more you can sell — so decisions need to be based on accurate data. But to know as much as possible, you need good quality data that then can be turned into insights that you can leverage to hone your loss prevention efforts.
When trying to prevent shrinkage things are hardly ever as simple as they seem. Without finding the exact cause of an alarm or a breach, you will be tapping in the dark to eliminate the threat. Often it is hard to reconcile item-level store shipment, back-room, on-shelf and sales data correctly.
“The skill set needed to distil all the data and analytics retailers now have at their fingertips is in hot demand and short supply. Our industry needs to find ways to attract software engineers and data analysts. It’s tough because most of the graduates who come out of school with these degrees don’t think retail first — and they certainly are not thinking LP. Still, the explosion of big data creates so many opportunities for individuals with that skill set.” said Pedro Ramos, vice president sales of Agilence in an NRF interview.
Therefore, any successful loss prevention manager will make real-time analytics and actionable insights his foundation for any decisions going forward.
What Skills Do You Think Loss Prevention Managers Should Have?
We would love to hear it from you — please sound off in the comments below.