Posts Tagged ‘team’

The Art of War in Retail: Flags and Signals

May 26, 2010

Chapter 3
Walkie-talkies- The best weapon of any General in battle. Walkie-talkies with headsets instantly send messages to others on the battlefield. Headsets help to keep communication private, and allows you to speak more clearly. Without a headset, you must develop more complex Codes in case the Opposition is listening. You can easily and quickly get others in motion to deal with situations and problems on the sales floor and registers by use of walkie-talkies.

Looks and Gestures- When engaged in battle, a General may need to rely on other ways of communication when speaking openly is not reasonable–most often when faced with the Opposition. Making eye-contact with another General on the field can help bring more reinforcements or supplies to ensure success. These looks must be understood beforehand, or a General may be left stranded and helpless, drowned by the Opposition. A strong, wide-eyed glare can often alert other Generals to the status of their colleague. Even using your eyes to point out something is useful. Gestures can also be used instead of Looks, although they are oftentimes more revealing in your intent; especially if you point, which is not often a good tactic to use. Many gestures can mean, “Save me! Bad customer!  or to say, ‘We don’t have any!’.” This includes a beckoning wave, a glare with a point, and shaking your hands in exasperation. Although this needs more training then walkie-talkie exercises, oftentimes this method is needed when engaging the Opposition.

Code-words- Many armies are prepared before battles with Code-words to mean anything from sales and discounts, to pointing out troublesome situations, such as shoplifters and unreasonable customers. Code-words are essential to verbal communication, as they only reveal a certain amount of information to the Opposition; yet they still provide more detailed information than gestures and looks. “The Benefit of the Doubt” can be one such code-word. “Can I get a manager to the cash register” is always a danger-sign, challenging the strongest Generals to come to battle. “Our friends are back,” can alert people to shoplifters. “These people need help,” when stressed differently can just mean they need help or mean they’re going to be a handful of trouble, so watch out!

Often, using a mixture of all of these techniques can create a streamlined cooperative system to deal with all situations like a well-trained army, which you are. You don’t ever want to end up in a situation, where you’re giving a Look, using a Code-word, and the other person is looking at you, asking, “What’s wrong with you?”

Shoplifter: Tag Team Torn

May 18, 2010

A new shoplifter came into the store, but he was about as obvious as any of them. He walks around with his backpack open. He won’t make eye-contact, but he will constantly look around and check out where every salesperson is in the store. He often puts his bag down right under a pile of clothes he’s looking through. For him, he is a bigger man, not in very good shape. He is dressed sloppy, with an over-sized, dirty shirt, tattoos, and sunglasses with a hat. He’s entirely ready to change his look, while failing all the while. If they did have a guild of shoplifters, they’d need a different look requirement.

A week before, one of my co-workers was furious, because a tag-team hit her. She was told to watch the man, and literally, right behind her, the woman was loading her bags. This is the effective tactic of the tag-team–one distracts and one attacks. Read the Art of War if you wish for more insight. Actually, I used to train all my co-workers from the Art of War tactics to deal with customers as well as shoplifters effectively, but I haven’t trained anyone in nearly a year.

So I’m standing helping him, actually my manager has put us all on alert saying to keep our eyes on him and watch him. A woman walks by, dressed decently, warmly, and actually looks like she’s a visitor from South America, since she doesn’t reply when I speak to her, only with a shy, polite nod. I think nothing of her, until someone says, “That’s the other one!” Now, their tactic is complete–she doesn’t dress or act like a shoplifter of lore. If I were a warrior looking for a dangerous monster, and I see a tiny white rabbit, I don’t think danger; yes, I admit looks can be deceiving. Caerbannong!

I immediately realize she has the actions of a shoplifter, but a new one. When I approach her again, I realize she does speak English. I do several of my surprise tactics, rounding corners to say, “Hello!” which admittedly makes her jump. I also appear out of thin air when she tries to run into a fitting room, and I count her items–one, two pieces of denim.

To make herself obvious, she puts her bag down, open, facing the door, so you can ‘obviously’ see she isn’t stealing. What makes it curious is that she is trying to steal; the fact of this is revealed later. Putting her bag like this just puts a stamp on her guilt, it just means she’s being tricky about it.

She emerges with her two pairs and says she wants them, and then quickly walks away. Using mirrors, as I always do, I track her movements until she’s about to disappear–and I point in her direction to another co-worker. This time I make an err, as my vantage point is actually her vantage point, yet one rarely used–she saw me pointing at her in the mirror. Now, it’s cat and mouse.

Remember all those poor customers we ignore when we’re dealing with shoplifters? Woe is them. I refused to leave my area to follow her, which the manager was mad about, but  don’t give me sop stories about customers needing help, then expect me to ignore them to follow a lady around the store. Of course, she disappears, but out of sheer luck, another coworker passes her near the exit asking if we can put the denim at the counter for her. The shoplifter turns, and the plastic sensors drop out of the pockets. The woman shoves the denim at my coworker then runs out.

There we find two huge, torn holes in the denim where the sensors used to be. She had ripped them through the pants, basically ruining them–including one which was denim short-shorts. Yes, she was an amateur. They also said by the time she left she was shaking and trembling. Congratulations, I don’t think she’ll be coming in any time soon. At least, she refreshed my views on watching how people look and how people act.

Shoplifter- Caution, Keep Clear

May 13, 2010

I’m walking near the front of the store and I see two women who look like shoplifters–and coworkers have said previously, “Don’t judge people like that!” and right after this a manager of another store said, “Did you see those two women, they just stole from my store!” I eventually found the stolen shorts thrown under a rack. I don’t know what’s worse–that I can spot a shoplifter or that they make themselves so obvious.

Okay, so, the shoplifters outside walk into a store right across from us, and I notice how they have this big, colorful shopping bag. When they leave, they aren’t carrying it anymore. Soon, I see another man leaving carrying that colorful bag–they’re tag-teaming! (Tag-team is when one shoplifter goes in to distract everyone, and then another less obvious shoplifter–who generally doesn’t dress the same–enters and steals while everyone else is distracted.) I watch the two women enter the next store as all the employees converge on them–I assume the women are loud and obnoxious. Either way, the man proceeds to enter the store and starts to throw things into his bag, and me and my coworkers are standing there watching, since I don’t know what to do really. Customers outside that store are just standing and watching as he leaves with his bags full of clothes.

Later, my manager says, “And all the customers in our store didn’t have anyone to help them.” As I think to myself, “Seriously?” If that were in our store, and has previously happened, she drags me out and tells me to follow them around and not let them out of my sight–what happens to the customers there?

I get off work soon after this debacle. I know the direction the shoplifters went, and I think about which stores would be the best to hit, considering the type of stores they visit. So I walk up, and lo-and-behold, there they are in a kitchen store ‘browsing’. Nearby is another clothing store where a previous coworker is managing, so I go in, and tell him about the women as they walk by. And I’m standing there pointing at them as they look at us, and they walk away.

I tell the same manager this story, and I get the reply, “I knew someone who was trying to be brave like that and he got stabbed.” Thanks? All I could really reply was, “I’m also packing.” Just don’t tell anyone.