• June 5, 2016

    How to Minimize Security Vulnerabilities for QSRs

    Quick-serve restaurants are popular eating places for several reasons. Unfortunately, some of those are the very reasons why these establishments need enhanced security programs.

    Why Quick-Serve Restaurants are Vulnerable to Crime
    Quick-serve restaurants (QSR) are found everywhere, from popular meeting areas to tucked away nooks and crannies of every city. These various locations meet the demands of an ‘on-the-go’ society, but it also means QSRs may be situated in not-so-desirable parts of town. QSRs are often open late at night, many operate on a 24-hour-a-day schedule. Typically, QSRs are staffed by young people, who may not be aware of their surroundings or attentive to suspicious customers. QSRs can attract tired or stressed patrons in need of a quick meal, but these off-peak hours of operation can also invite unstable or irritated customers onto the QSR premises. Finally, these eateries present a convenient access to fast getaway thoroughfares or dark alleyways, have an abundance of cash on site, and often have inexperienced staff in their employ. These factors add up to the perfect target for ill-willed criminals.

    How to Mitigate Security Vulnerabilities
    Depending on location and hours of operation, each individual QSR site has varying security concerns. To mitigate these security vulnerabilities that are unique to each location, it’s important to walk each QSR site using a checklist similar to the following:

    • Lighting: Is the lighting sufficient at all hours of the day to deter loitering and increase safety of employees and customers entering/exiting the location?
    • Visibility: Are there any areas within the restaurant that are obscured from view of employees and the public?
    • Cash Safe: Is the safe securely locked at all times and is the office work area out of sight to the public? Does the safe have a time-delay?
    • Employee Preparedness: Have all employees been deliberately trained on safety procedures and robbery prevention?
    • Security: Are video surveillance systems and alarm systems in good working order?
    • Structure: Are the drive-thru windows fortified? Is there a peephole on the back door so employees can see who is on the other side before opening? Is every lock in working order?
    • Monies: Is the frequency of cash audits sufficient to monitor adherence to store policy?
    • High-Quality Staff: Are rigorous background checks and mandatory drug tests conducted on all potential employees?

    Are the Security Measures ‘Reasonable and Adequate’?
    Working through this checklist will also help owners/operators of QSRs provide ‘reasonable and adequate’ security measures required by law. Establishments must plan for a level of security that will keep their customers and employees safe. The ‘level of security’ will vary on the restaurant’s location, its clientele, and perhaps even special conditions at particular places, such as proximity to stores selling alcohol, or bars that turn out customers late at night. Failing to provide ‘reasonable and adequate’ security can be considered negligent management.

    Tailored Security Plans Are the Most Effective
    Developing a security plan that exactly fits a particular QSR is the ultimate goal. The first step would be to conduct a basic risk assessment to determine the level of risk and security threat, per the checklist above. Next, security personnel should create a workable plan within a budget that starts with basic security measures and then adds resources and equipment to deal with specific problems or challenges. It should always be kept in mind, however, that budget concerns should never win out over the safety of customers and staff. Finally, the security plan must be constantly and regularly monitored and evaluated for effectiveness and to ensure the business is keeping up with escalating crime or other security issues. Assessment is crucial to properly maintaining the threshold level of providing ‘reasonable and adequate’ security measures.

    About RLPSA
    The Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association (formerly NFSSC) is an exclusive community of loss prevention professionals focused on helping its members minimize losses and reduce liabilities within the restaurant and food industries.

    We are industry leaders sharing our collective expertise, knowledge and solutions to the challenges we face every day. Our goal is to make our members more efficient and successful in their careers by serving as the “go-to” resource for restaurant and food industry loss prevention and security professionals.

    As a member-run organization, we share information about industry trends and connect a network of peers who understand the unique challenges of the job, and who collaborate to find the next best solution. We create a forum for discussion and problem-solving so that our members benefit from shared expertise. We provide professional development opportunities that are designed to meet the specific interests and concerns of restaurant and food industry professionals, and we advocate for regulations that will make our workplaces more safe and secure.

    For more resources, attend our annual conference. Visit: http://www.rlpsaannualconference.com/

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  • May 22, 2016

    LP & Security Alert: Employee Training is Essential for Your Success

    The opening bells of the new year welcomed a vibrant restaurant industry with open arms. Restaurant sales soared in 2015, marking the fifth year in a row for increased growth. Statistics reported that nearly a quarter of all U.S. consumers ate out at least once a month and more than 10 percent of these diners frequented a restaurant every week.

    The best news is that these positive numbers are expected to continue in 2016. Though some sources say the economy is in a lull, the above figures tell a different story, at least for the restaurant industry.

    How Can Employers Get the Best Work from Their Workforce?

    So what’s on the agenda for 2016? What issues needs to be addressed? Rising labor costs, of course.

    Stories of increased minimum wage limits have made news headlines across the country. Some employers are leading the charge; others are jumping angrily up and down, or perhaps moaning and wailing about lower profits. And some are simply complacent and accepting. There’s no right or wrong way to accept this turn of events.

    The relevant question is how can employers make sure they are getting the best work from the employees they hire at whatever hourly wage?

    Employers need knowledgeable and competent workers who can effectively cater to the needs of ever-more discerning and demanding customers. To achieve these ends, employee education and training is vital.

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  • May 8, 2016

    How Digital Technology Impacts Loss Prevention and Security Plans

    What’s in the plan for 2016 to expand the business, increase profits, or get more market share…and how can that be protected?

    The 2015 QSR state-of-the-industry survey given to hundreds of restaurant operators reported that 36% of employers are anticipating offsetting increased minimum wage levels by leveraging digital innovations to increase efficiency of operations. Restaurant operators surveyed gave “Digital Innovations” a 3.02 ranking on a scale of 1 (not very important) to 5 (extremely important).

    Experts say the move to digital technology is inevitable

    Here’s some data shared by employers who responded to the QSR survey.

    What “customer-facing technologies” do you use?

    • Call ahead = 47% of respondents.
    • Online ordering = 42% of respondents.
    • Mobile ordering = 35% of respondents.
    • Mobile payments = 27% of respondents.
    • Text messaging = 21% of respondents.
    • Employee handheld devices = 17% of respondents.
    • Pay-at-the-table = 15% of respondents.

    What percent of sales comes via digital ordering (mobile/online)?

    • 1-10% of survey respondents said 45% of sales comes from digital ordering.
    • 11-25% of survey respondents said 17% of sales comes from digital ordering.
    • 26-50% of survey respondents said 5% of sales comes from digital ordering.

    More than 50% of survey respondents said 3% of sales comes from digital ordering.

    What’s Trending Now?

    The trend toward digital customer interface is growing rapidly. Employers in the survey reported that they are likely to employ online ordering, mobile ordering, mobile payments and mobile loyalty programs, text messaging services, and employee handheld devices in the next 3-5 years.

    Mobile payments were listed as “very likely” by 19% of respondents; mobile ordering was listed as “very likely” 18%. Mobile loyalty programs were cited as “very likely” by 20% of respondents, while 53% of respondents reported that they give loyalty dollar discounts.

    Of course, adopting any of these new digital-enhanced actions will require significant investment in software, equipment, and training. An overwhelming 70% of employers reported that they intend to invest more capital in their digital presence in the coming year.

    How Will Loss Prevention Handle the Changes?

    LP and security plans will have to address a number of issues concerning increased digital technology: payment data theft, breaches in software, operating systems with “patches” creating new vulnerabilities, lack of standardized mobile pay security walls, and more sophisticated fraud perpetrators. Effective security plans will pay attention to actions such as removing sensitive data from their files, using encryption to prevent hacking, and adding increased security levels.

    Steps for Enhanced Digital Security

    Developing an up-to-date, digitally-focused security plan must be top priority.

    1. Have flexible policies and procedures that can be amended quickly as the digital environment morphs and changes.
    2. Stay ahead of the curve. This includes constant monitoring and investigating of trends that can affect your establishment’s security plan.
    3. Schedule software analyses. Is the software you are using up-to-date? If you have been “plugging holes” to stay current, are the fixes holding? Have passwords been changed recently to protect vital information?
    4. Learn more about cybercrime to develop ways to prevent it, and to develop plans to react to it in the event you become a victim. Crime rings continue to threaten retail and restaurant operations. Counterfeit e-receipts, reflected in the increase in fraud cases, is one area that has led to stricter security measures.
    5. Include training (i.e., how to properly operate devices or how to protect customer information) for all personnel involved with digital transactions.
    6. Communicate your company’s mission of protecting payment account information to customers who are increasingly demanding that businesses increase security while handling their sensitive data.

    What do Your Customers Want?

    The industry is seeing a pronounced shift to self-service orders from customers’ smartphones, tablets and computers. Will Hernandez, in “Emerging Mobile Payments, Trends for Restaurants,” says, “Consumers, particularly millennials, now demand more ways to communicate with their favorite brands, and restaurants are no exception.” Domino’s Pizza CEO, Patrick Doyle, reports that 50% of the chain’s U.S. sales can be attributed to digital channels, including smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Starbucks’ new “Mobile Order & Pay” program has seen great success in test markets and will be rolled out to all states in 2016. Other technologies that restaurant operators should watch out for are mobile point-of-sale products, beacons, and bitcoins.

    Don’t Fall Behind the Pack

    Restaurants seek to give their customers faster, reliable, and more personal experiences through expanded digital technology. However, as this mobile digital industry evolves, loss prevention and security professionals must take prudent measures keep up with the changes while protecting their business and their customers.

    About RLPSA

    The Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association (formerly NFSSC) is an exclusive community of loss prevention professionals focused on helping its members minimize losses and reduce liabilities within the restaurant and food industries.

    We are industry leaders sharing our collective expertise, knowledge and solutions to the challenges we face every day. Our goal is to make our members more efficient and successful in their careers by serving as the “go-to” resource for restaurant and food industry loss prevention and security professionals.

    As a member-run organization, we share information about industry trends and connect a network of peers who understand the unique challenges of the job, and who collaborate to find the next best solution. We create a forum for discussion and problem-solving so that our members benefit from shared expertise. We provide professional development opportunities that are designed to meet the specific interests and concerns of restaurant and food industry professionals, and we advocate for regulations that will make our workplaces more safe and secure.

    For more resources, attend our annual conference. Visit: http://www.rlpsaannualconference.com

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  • April 24, 2016

    Loss Prevention Considerations: The Growing Business of Food Trucks

    Loss Prevention Considerations: The Growing Business of Food Trucks

    Looking to Expand into a New Market?

    The multi-billion-dollar U.S. restaurant industry is enjoying a growth period. Soaring restaurant sales marked 2015 as the fifth year in a row for increased growth. Statistics reported that nearly a quarter of all U.S. consumers ate out at least once a month and more than 10 percent of these diners frequented a restaurant every week. Of course, no one wants to rest on their laurels and leaders, innovators, and progressive thinkers are trying to identify the next greatest trend in the restaurant business.

    Serving Consumers on the Move

    Consumers are always on the go. They travel more often and use their mobile devices to get them to places near and far as quickly as possible. Today’s consumers are not tied to brick and mortar establishments anymore. They are comfortable with shopping online, having personal services (teeth cleaning, massages, haircuts, etc.) performed in their home, and dealing with internet companies headquartered halfway around the world.

    One of the latest trends for this “on-the-move” society is the emergence of mobile food units, food trucks, and food trailers that offer a variety of menu items from simple (and not so simple) hot dogs with all the trimmings to vegetarian gourmet pasta dishes in various temporary locations. Some might say this is a “Moveable Feast” trend.

    But food trucks are more than just a hot trend. They’re quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing and most flexible business opportunities around the country. The National League of Cities report shows that the food truck business reached $650 million in 2012 and that amount is predicted to rise to $2.7 billion by 2017.

    Loss Prevention: Thoughts on Protecting Food Trucks

    For those thinking about investing in food trucks or kiosks, there are, of course lots of red tape to wade through and numerous challenges to overcome along the way. These can involve government restrictions and regulations, menu mandates, staffing needs, equipment maintenance, and security needs. Security must be assessed and planned effectively to include CCTV camera surveillance, lighting systems, auto-lock doors, and regular cash pick-ups.

    Just because many are willing to jump on the bandwagon of a new trend, doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved, but the results seem to outweigh the risks. The 2015 QSR state-of-the-industry survey given to hundreds of restaurant operators reported that 15% of respondents said their brand had a food truck of some kind with another 16% saying they were thinking about expanding their business with a food truck(s). Some restaurant owners are considering opening/operating additional sites, separate from their restaurant location, in “new” places. The survey posed the question: “What types of nontraditional locations are you considering?” Topping the list was food courts/shopping malls with 34% of respondents saying they were considering this option. Next was sports stadiums cited by 27% of respondents as potential new sites and trailers, kiosks and food trucks were being considered by 20% of the respondents.

    Driving into the Future

    The restaurant industry is quickly adapting to the new changes and challenges ahead. In Charlotte, NC, Chow Down Uptown, a showcase of local food trucks, is celebrated on the last Thursday of the month. Hundreds of people grab street food while enjoying live music. In Charlotte’s historic Southend, Food Truck Friday features Wingzaa trucks and a Chrome Toaster school bus. The future of the restaurant industry is on overdrive.

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  • April 10, 2016

    3 Ways Employees Might Engage in Workers’ Compensation Fraud

    3 Ways Employees Might Engage in Workers’ Compensation Fraud

    Workers’ Compensation insurance provides necessary medical coverage for workers who are injured while doing their jobs. However, this safety net for employees is a significant expense for employers.

    Although Workers’ Compensation insurance rates vary state to state, the requisite premiums can be considerable for businesses, especially those that hire many employees to cover 24/7 operations, and the costs continue to rise.

    What does workers’ compensation fraud look like?

    As with other types of insurance, Workers’ Compensation insurance is often a victim of abuse and fraud. Some states consider insurance fraud a felony and violators are subject to prison time, fines, legal expenses, and court fees. Employers should be on the lookout for Workers’ Compensation fraud perpetrated by their employees.

    3 Ways Employees Engage with Workers’ Compensation Fraud

    1. Faking an injury.
      This false claim reports that a hurt back, strained muscle, or some other injury that can’t be “seen” occurred while working when no such injury was sustained. It can even include a self-inflicted injury that would qualify a worker for disability payments.

    2. Exaggerating an injury.
      Employees may be tempted to make his/her injury seem worse than it is, perhaps to either get more time off or the benefit of a free doctor visit for another, non-related injury. A California case involved a woman who allegedly used whiteout to alter her incident report (an injured knee while carrying boxes) to extend her claim of total disability.

    3. Giving false details.
      This claim could include reporting that the injury occurred on the job site or while performing work-related activities, when it did not. Other false details might make the owner seem negligible when he/she has not been. Perhaps standard safety measures were not followed or conditions of the floor or mats were reported differently than what was actually the case, etc.

    Employers try to keep Workers’ Compensation claims to a minimum while being attentive to the coverage of their employees. Safer workplaces though are the quickest way to lower claims, which ultimately lowers insurance rates.

    6 Action Steps to Make Workplace Safety a Reality

    1. Develop a plan that makes safety a “value”, rather than a “priority.” Priorities change, but a company value remains part of the everyday company culture. Put the plan and the company’s values regarding safety in writing. Communicate the plan and company values to all employees.
    2. Formulate a policy that holds employees accountable for following safety procedures, as per the official company plan. For example, some companies have a policy that states, “Working safely is a condition of employment.”
    3. Outline a disciplinary program that clearly explains the actions to be followed if an employee breaks the rules or files a false claim.
    4. Create incentives/rewards for employees who follow safety procedures, and create a hotline number where employees can anonymously report dishonest or unsafe employees.
    5. Make it clear that upper management fully endorses the safety plan and the subsequent penalties and rewards.
    6. Plan regular safety meetings or discussion forums to cover specific safety issues with employees.

    8 Steps to a Legitimate Claim

    Accidents happen, and employers and employees will always strive to prevent them. If an accident does happen though, here are some steps to take to make sure the claim is legitimate.

    1. Complete the accident report as soon as possible
    2. Include as much detail in the report as possible
    3. Take photos of the scene, employee, and injury.
    4. Interview and record the explanations/descriptions of anyone who witnessed the incident.
    5. Require a drug test of the employee claiming the injury.
    6. Check to see if the claimant is a repeat offender.
    7. Review the Workers’ Compensation claim for accuracy, deductible amounts, and associated costs pertaining to the injury.
    8. Consolidate the tracking of the case so that several entities, such as human resources, safety managers, and supervisors of the claimant, can view the details of the incident, the problem that needs to be fixed, or the duration of care/time off of work for the employee.

    5 Common Ways Employers Commit Insurance Fraud

    Employees are not the only ones to commit insurance fraud. Employer fraud is also very serious. Five ways employers might commit insurance fraud to evade Workers’ Compensation laws are:

    1. Underestimating payroll numbers to reduce premiums.
    2. Classifying employers as independent contractors when they are not.
    3. Skewing job descriptions to qualify for lower premiums.
    4. Hiring undocumented workers to avoid Workers’ Compensation premiums.
    5. Failing to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance for qualified employees.

    Workers’ compensation insurance fraud is serious. False reporting of an injury is also a serious issue. The Solution? Focus on workplace safety and remain aware of ways employees and employers alike can commit workers’ compensation insurance fraud.

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  • March 27, 2016

    UPDATE: Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation

    UPDATE: Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation

    Every year, tens of thousands of men and women across the United States are severely injured on the job, sometimes with permanent consequences to themselves and their families.

    Last year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lacked timely information about where and how most of those injuries were occurring, limiting how effectively the agency could response. Now, under a requirement that took effect January 1, 2015, employers must report to OSHA within 24 hours any work-related amputation, in-patient hospitalization, or loss of eye.

    See more information and program requirements at: Year One of OSHA’s Severe Injury Reporting Program: An Impact Evaluation.

    Attend RLPSA’s 37th Annual Conference to hear valuable safety content such as, “Falls Aren’t Funny” from the National Floor Safety Institute. For more information about our conference visit: www.rlpsaannualconference.com.

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  • March 13, 2016

    10 Ways to Eliminate Slip & Falls

    10 Ways to Eliminate Slip & Falls

    It happens every day. People slip and fall. Sometimes they get up without any further consequences; others can suffer serious repercussions, such as neck injuries, broken arms or legs, cuts, back strains, even death. When someone is injured in a fall, lawsuits often follow. Many of these lawsuits claim owner negligence. The Liberty Mutual Safety Index rates same-level falls as one of the top ten causes of “serious workplace injuries” in the U.S.

    Restricted Budgets Impact Safety

    The food service industry employs a significant portion of the nation’s workforce and services millions of people each year. These numbers make restaurants particularly vulnerable to safety issues. The tight economy has brought a decrease in safety precautions. Businesses falling on tough times have relaxed their vigilance on safety…floors are left wet and dirty due to fewer employees to clean up spills and leaks, deep cleaning has been postponed because of a lack of resources, regular cleaning services have been discontinued as profits have fallen, and efforts to put up relevant signage has been put off until sometime in the future.

    Of course, a tight budget is not a good excuse to turn a blind eye to safety issues. In fact, hard economic times is exactly when companies should look more closely at safety procedures that will strengthen a workforce, prevent lawsuits, or forestall other actions that may end up costing the business more money in the long run.

    Employees are the First Line of Defense

    Training all employees to identify and eliminate problem areas before accidents happen is important. Training should include how to identify potential safety issues and how to properly use the cleaners and cleaning tools provided to eliminate the hazards. Safety training can also include instruction in first aid, injury protocol, proper ways to lift and handle materials, etc. Managerial support adds to the probability that an establishment’s policies and procedures will be carried out.

    By starting with your employees first, you have dry floors, well-lit areas, and no tripping hazards.
    Train and expect for the following to increase the safety of the store within just a few shifts, and minimize the costly risks of slip-and-fall hazards.

    1. Slip-Resistant Shoes: Require employees to wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) reports that improper footwear causes about 24 percent of slips and falls.
    2. Flat Mats: Make sure all mats and rugs are clean and dry, both on top and underneath. Teach employees how to smooth out all buckled areas throughout their shift. Choose NFSI-certified mats. The mat needs to be appropriate for the floor type. For example, use non-skid mats and no-skid waxes on flooring surfaces.
    3. Clear the Path: Remind employees to keep pathways clear of empty boxes, stock, etc.
    4. Equip for Safety: Empower employees with the right tools, so they can keep floors and work surfaces dry. Provide an ample supply of dry rags and mops for taking care of food or liquid spills. Be sure to provide cleaners that de-grease surfaces, etc.
    5. Whistle While You Work: Expect a ‘clean-as-you-work’ approach throughout every shift. Highlight the change in strategy depending on weather (see item #6).
    6. Rain or Shine: Set precautions in place for bad weather: rain, snow, sleet, ice, humidity. For example, be sure employees have the necessary signage to post when floors are wet from the outdoor elements. Remind employees that once floors are dry from mopping or weather, remove the signage to avoid a tripping hazard.
    7. Safety Lights the Way: Ensure that all electrical wiring is safely out of the way to prevent tripping. Provide proper lighting in all areas such as dining rooms, storage rooms, and stairways. Depending on the store processes, make sure employees have a way to notify management of burned out or broken light sources throughout the shift, so it can be quickly replaced.
    8. See Safety: Safety violations must be taken seriously by managers and administration. Policies should be communicated to all employees and procedures should be posted in visible areas. Emphasis should be placed on how to prevent spills and falls.
    9. Bring in the Expert: If your budget or scheduling allows for it, you can appoint or hire a safety coordinator. This person should be tasked with developing a preventative approach to workplace safety, including conducting safety audits, establishing safety policies and procedures, offering training, and evaluating outcomes of the safety plan.
    10. Safety Audit: Auditing the workplace situation from a safety standpoint, including COF measurement, employee buy-in, and hazard identification can help establish relevant policies and procedures and viable best practices. For example, Russell Kendzior of NFSI says measuring the slip resistance of the restaurant floor is a must. Determining the coefficient of friction (COF) will help you ensure safer floors and facilitate best practices that will decrease the number of slips by both guests and employees.

    Know Thy Safety

    Knowing the risks to workplace safety, identifying the factors that can eliminate those risks, and making sure employees are knowledgeable and trained to carry out the safety-action steps enables restaurant managers and owners to mitigate serious injuries due to slips and falls while protecting their customers and employees.

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  • February 29, 2016

    Crisis Plan? It’s Easy If You Do It Smart

    Crisis Plan? It’s Easy If You Do It Smart

    Customers and employees of restaurants and fast food establishments trust that they will be safe in the public workplace. But bad things can happen. Knowing how to respond to the unthinkable situation – an active shooter in a public place of business – can limit revenue loss, minimize property damage, and, above all, protect employees and customers.

    When a crisis of this magnitude occurs – everyone from top management to the newbie server should be aware of the crisis plan and the procedures set in place to follow it. They should know what to do to keep themselves and others safe. Quick and efficient action can save lives.

    Each restaurant has its own culture, personnel diversity, legal regulations, and threat potential, so crisis plans should be based on the individual business and business location. A comprehensive and effective plan will include three parts: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Enacting a crisis plan with these three components will enable fast, coordinated responses with the real potential to save lives and reduce injuries.

    Part One: Prepare.

    Being prepared is vital to the positive outcome of a crisis.

    A Preparedness Plan should include:

    • Needs assessment (locking system information, access control procedures, first-aid supplies, radios, phone lines, contact information, maps, facility information, etc.).
    • Creation of a crisis team; orchestrated coordination will avoid duplication, confusion, and mixed messages.
    • Development of a process for safe places or evacuation should a shooting occur.
    • Considerations must be put in the plan for employees with disabilities or limited language skills.
    • Time for relationship building and information sharing with local media, health professionals, law enforcement, safety officials, etc.
    • Establishing clear lines of communication with all involved parties. Plot several means of communication during a crisis.
    • Creation of maps and layouts of facilities. Location of utility shut-offs and potential staging sites will be needed by emergency responders.

    Part Two: Response.

    Clearly outline the response steps to be taken during the crisis should a shooting take place.

    A Response Plan should include:

    • Communications (what is to be done and when) to various employee groups in language they will understand.
    • Regular training and drills for crisis scenarios. People tend to go on “auto-pilot” in emergency situations. They need to know and feel comfortable enough to follow the prepared action plan.
    • Procedures for hunkering down on-site or evacuation.
    • Accounting for all employees and guests.
    • Taking photos of the scene, damage, etc.
    • Debriefing/interviewing of all parties involved.

    Part Three: Recovery.

    It’s important to have a plan in place that outlines how to get back to business after a crisis.

    A Recovery Plan should include:

    • An organizational system or plan for who will take control of restaurant functions.
    • Appointment of an information officer who will talk to the public, law enforcement, media, families, and victims, assuring them of the support that is available to them.
    • Reaching out to outside entities that might be required: health care professionals, building inspectors, suppliers, etc.
    • A written detailed report of all actions and all responses.
    • A written report of all damage for insurance purposes.

    Crisis Management: A Continuous Process

    A crisis plan should be constantly and deliberately reviewed and revised. Effective crisis planning begins with top leadership to set the agenda, allocate funds, and bring the important decision-makers together. Being prepared takes time. Though there may be a sense of urgency to come up with a plan, a comprehensive plan will take time. Information has to be collected, stakeholders and personnel must be identified, a plan needs to be developed, resources have to be allocated, and training sessions have to be scheduled. The effort is worth it though, because when the crisis hits, you want a plan that you can trust.

    For more crisis management tips, attend RLPSA’s 37th Annual Conference. Visit our conference website: www.rlpsaannualconference.com

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  • February 7, 2016

    4 Quick Tips to Conduct a Successful Loss Prevention Investigation

    You’ve discovered employee theft in your restaurant. You’ve narrowed down the theft to a specific person using data analytics. You’re ready to confront that employee in an interview. Before you begin, it’s important to make sure the interviewer is fully aware of investigation best practices. Below are some best practices to keep in mind as you conduct a loss prevention investigation:
    Stay away from slander or defamation of character
    An investigation goes south when an employee’s character or their job performance is questioned during an interview. Be sure to keep the subject focused on the actions of the employee, and not the employee’s attitude, beliefs, or other personality flaws.
    Keep the investigation professional
    False imprisonment is defined as “depriving a person of his or her freedom to leave an area.” This does not have to involve physical restraint. In some cases, it can include psychological restraint. Verbally telling an employee that they cannot leave the room until the interview is finished can result in a false imprisonment suit. Make sure that ground rules for the meeting are set prior to the beginning of the interview and establish an appropriate comfort level between yourself and the employee.
    Maintain confidentiality
    If you’re going to accuse an employee of theft, you need to make privacy a top priority. Limit the interview to just the employee and the investigator or manager. This will help you maintain employee confidentiality and also make the setting less intimidating.
    Involve a third party if needed
    There are certain situations when having a third party involved in the loss prevention investigation can be beneficial. If the employee is a female, and the manager or investigator is a male, sometimes having another female co-worker or human resources professional in the room is helpful. In general, the interviewee has the right to request that a co-worker be present during the interview. If this is the case, place the co-worker behind the interviewee and advise them to only speak up in order to clarify a question asked by the investigator.

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  • January 19, 2016

    Look out! 6 Ways Employees are Stealing From You

    If you run a multi-unit restaurant operation, you know it’s important to monitor employee theft. But it’s easier said than done. In addition to implementing fraud control procedures, you (and your store managers) should be well-versed in the many ways that employees can steal from you. That way, restaurant leaders will be able to spot a questionable action when they see it.

    Below are 6 ways your employees can put your restaurant’s cash into their pocket:

    Collaborating with other employees is one of the easiest ways for multiple co-workers to steal at once. Misery loves company, and if one person is disgruntled with management, then he or she is likely to seek out others with similar opinions. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the average fraud case involves one employee and results in a median loss of $80,000. However, once this number increases to two employees the median loss goes up to $200,000.

    Look out for: Poor employee attitudes or disgruntled employees.

    Inventory reconciliation issues can be a sign that an employee is stealing not cash, but food. Employees that regularly steal meals do so by taking the food from the back of house without paying for it. Pay attention to sudden drops in your inventory.

    Look out for: Inventory shortages and use inventory management best practices.

    Theft at the register can go unnoticed without electronic oversight. There are many types of red flag transactions that operators should be on the lookout for. Over-rings, discounts, deletes, voids, and refunds can all be forms of theft. In fact, studies show that 4 out of 10 discount codes used are fraudulent.

    Look out for: Suspicious transactions and transaction trends over time.

    Taking on more work can be a sign that the employee is actually interested in staying later so he or she can steal from the register or safe. Also, if the employee seems to be working year-round with no vacation it can be a sign of not just hard work but also potential theft. When an employee is stealing from you, taking a week off means they are missing out on opportunities to dip their hands into the register.

    Look out for: Employees working long hours or going without vacation.

    Time theft involves an employee stealing money from your store by claiming they have worked more hours than they actually have. Be on the lookout for “buddy punching,” a term that refers to a theft tactic where two or more employees punch in or out for one another.

    Look out for: Time punches that don’t add up.

    Stealing data is one of the more dangerous acts categorized under employee theft. Stealing data involves an employee taking personal information such as social security or bank account information from former employees or current customers. Credit card skimmers make this task especially easy. The portable skimming device allows thieves to steal bank information to make fraudulent credit cards, and is prevalent in the quick service restaurant industry.

    Look out for: Employees holding a skimmer in their hand and scanning a customer credit card first on the register and then quickly in their hand.

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