While 2021 has been a year full of change, restaurant leaders know it won’t stop there and are gearing up for all the new things to come in 2022. The quick-service industry is still marked by uncertainty, and leaders are focusing on several themes which are emerging as key challenges in the coming year, according to Restaurant Loss Prevention Security Association (RLPSA) spokesperson Amber Bradley.
RLPSA, a member-run community, is a vital resource for restaurant leaders. This is the place where exclusive industry conversations happen such as identifying best practices for loss prevention strategies and solutions; training on workplace safety; updating restaurant leaders on the latest in industry news; and creating collaboration opportunities for problem-solving and professional development.
RLPSA has identified three top loss prevention concerns facing quick-service restaurants in 2022 based on industry trends and top-level conversations. Below, Bradley shares these most pressing challenges heading into the new year along with a few suggested ways to tackle them head-on.
1. Labor shortages and poor behavior
Striking the right balance between creating a welcoming workplace environment while monitoring loss prevention by using surveillance cameras can be seen as tricky. According to Bradley, “The No. 1 solution is leveraging technology partners to help with tighter controls and streamlining productivity, allowing the employees to pick their own battles. Loss prevention leaders dealing with internal theft or operational challenges can say, ‘The reports are showing a loss, let’s investigate and validate that loss.’”
The Envysion software solution, a loss prevention platform that transforms video surveillance into a strategic operational tool for quick-service restaurants, is a key RLPSA partner. “One of the biggest challenges for loss prevention leaders is ‘How do we redirect and guide hourly employees who may be making bad decisions?’ What we’re seeing are two main solutions: The first is ongoing monthly training, and the second is leveraging technology partners like Envysion to help identify and catch potential issues before they impact the workforce,” Bradley says. This helps brands address issues before they cause turnover—a major challenge when restaurants invest so much in new hire training, security, and background checks.
Additionally, labor shortages have forced modifications to certain zero-tolerance policies. “Say someone is stealing cash, instead of just being fired, some managers are saying, ‘Don’t do that again or you’ll be fired.’ When surveillance video is tied to POS data, leaders are able to run exception reports and quickly monitor and validate the discrepancies. There’s an evolution happening here as everyone has to be more tolerant,” Bradley says. “Let’s say 10 percent of the employees will always steal, 10 percent who would never steal, leaving 80 percent in the middle. It’s this middle we’re trying to impact with training and resources.”
With technology such as Envysion’s real-time data delivery, quick-service restaurants can better pinpoint areas of loss. “Loss Prevention Audits, for instance, puts the needle right on top of the haystack. With notifications delivered directly in your email inbox, loss prevention leaders can instantly see alerts and immediately take steps to correct behaviors,” Bradley says.
2. Stalled speed of service
To maintain a competitive advantage and continue market share growth, loss prevention leaders need to ensure that speed of service at the drive thru, point of sale, and kitchen all remains optimal. Video surveillance provides operators or managers with a real-time view of the line of cars currently in a drive-thru lane, for example, or the ability to identify inefficiencies in the kitchen area by monitoring employee behavior behind the scenes.
Coming out of the pandemic, patience is waning on all fronts. “De-escalation within restaurants is a big training initiative in the industry right now,” Bradley explains, citing the RLPSA’s partnership with The Power of Preparedness, whose panel of experts are experienced in Homeland Security and provide restaurant training. “Whether it’s upset customers or more hostile violence directed at staff, similar initiatives are in play for other types of issues such as phone scams, unsafe driving, or cash handling issues.”
Envysion’s managed video solution is an asset in these types of situations with being able to search for a specific clip, save it, and share it with law enforcement, attorneys, or evidence for insurance claims. The Cloud Archive feature allows for recorded video to be saved in the cloud for a predetermined amount of time, based on the state’s statute of limitations, with the ability to access footage in the future. This has helped in cases such as reviewing evidence from disgruntled customers or false slip and fall claims.
3. Rampant fraud and attacks on loyalty
RLPSA members are reporting an uptick in breach and hacking schemes related to data in tandem with the increase of in-app ordering and gift cards. “They want to plug those holes because hackers are always a day earlier than you are. Even before the pandemic, many brands were moving toward higher usage of app ordering. The unplanned rush, in turn, created additional gaps in digital security,” Bradley says.
The RLPSA’s annual conference held this April in Denver will host a session on loyalty, potential fraud, and how it works. “It really boils down to tech solutions like Envysion’s. It’s all about detecting these outlier transactions,” Bradley says. For some businesses, bulk-online card purchasing is the norm, for others, it’s a red flag. Running a report to show gift card sales or loyalty card redemption will help understand the norm in your business, plus can identify if a particular employee has more of these transactions than the average.
Loss prevention leaders are stretched thin as they now assume the roles of human resources, risk management, and fraud detection unit in one. Add to that supply chain shortages, diversity and equity issues, social unrest, and OSHA-related vaccination policies, loss prevention leaders have their hands full. Bradley suggests a proactive, what’s next approach: “The RLPSA has really expanded its reach over the past five years. Now we provide value for the industry year-round in addition to our annual conferences. Our motto is ‘smarter together’ and we really believe that which is why we get everyone together annually to discuss the issues that matter the most. That’s our goal.”
Check to see if you have the right processes in place. Download the Loss Prevention Checklist now.
By Jocelyn Winn