September 4, 2008

Preventing Frame Theft

In a retail setting like a mall or even a strip shopping center theft is a problem that goes with the territory. These days even practices in a more professional medical setting can experience theft of frames (politely referred to by accountants as "shrinkage") The busier you get, the easier it is for dishonest people to get away with it.

One of my clients has his higher-end vendors help soften the blow from "lost" frames by getting the sales reps to give him a couple of no-charge personal frames every month or two. He says that he doesn't want to lock up his entire high-end inventory because he sells more if some frames are out and available for try-ons. That makes them more vulnerable to loss, but as long as the vendors help him out with personals he figures they both end up selling more frames in the long run.

So what can you do about it? Here are some suggestions.
• Sensormatic (or similar) inventory control system - has tags placed on each frame and an alarm that sounds if someone tries to walk out with a frame that hasn't been paid for. It entails having sensor stands on both sides of the door. The stands may not be all that attractive, but they send a message that you are not easy pickin's.
• Locking display cases and locking frame bars - It's not practical to lock everything up, but you should at least lock up your more expensive frames and sunglasses. It actually adds to their perceived value when they are presented behind locked glass doors.
• Surveillance cameras - some people put in fake ones that move as if they are panning around so people feel that they are being watched. Real surveillance cameras with a monitor in the lab are good for seeing if someone is in the optical, but a thief can too easily slip out the door with merchandise before you can stop them.
• Staff training - make them more vigilant with security training and a strict policy of always having an optician in the retail area whenever a patient is. Reward them with a bonus tied to decreases in the shrinkage rate.

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