FORT WAYNE, Ind. (FNS) -- Savvy retailers know that loss prevention means much more than controlling shrink in their stores. Other basic, and crucial, aspects of loss prevention, such as ensuring customer and associate safety and dealing with natural disasters, rely less on technology and more on simply being prepared.
A safety and loss-prevention manual used by Scott's Food Stores here has been invaluable in coping with everything from a tornado to workplace violence, said Howard Ball, director of loss prevention and safety at Scott's.
The 86-page document, researched and written by Ball over a three-year period, is the basis for an annual four-hour training session for store managers, assistant managers and department heads of the 17-store chain.
Scores of topics include safety philosophy and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines; emergency action procedures ranging from power outages to bomb threats; customer accident worker's compensation policies and procedures; shoplifting; food handling and safety; proper forms to complete for all incidents; and workplace violence.
The last issue is gaining in importance as employees increasingly cope with marital and financial stress, Ball said. Managers are trained to detect the first signs of family emotional problems and how to react to a store visit from a violent spouse.
Because of the manual's tornado procedures, injuries were avoided when a twister tore off a corner of a store in Kendalville, Ind., about two years ago, Ball noted. With five minutes' notice, customers were herded into enclosed areas of the store and around structural beams.
While most of the 39 bomb threats Scott's has received during Ball's two decades with the company have been pranks, on one occasion a device was found in a store by employees who were trained to search for it but not touch it until authorities were called.
Ball recommended a number of sources for retailers interested in developing a loss-prevention manual, including the firm's worker's compensation insurance carrier, the company physician and legal counsel, the local Board of Health, police and fire departments. Scott's manual has been revised three times since it was first prepared in 1990, he added.
The retailer takes pride in providing its trained employees to assist in disasters outside the store. "We assisted when a Fort Wayne church caught fire," said Ball. "The community respects that."