Sometimes Computers, Cash Registers Or A Checkpoint Security System Can Crash; Are Your Managers Ready To Adapt And Lead?
Have you ever had one of those days or weeks when it seems like everything breaks down on you? Compounding that is when all of the breakdowns seem to happen at once, it’s enough to make you go crazy! I recently experienced this in the college library where I work. Day one of classes and that is when it seems all of the students come to the library to print out their syllabuses, first assignments and projects. In fact, every day of the week is busy with printing needs and freshmen needing to learn how to print from library computers to the library printers. Murphy’s Law says something is going to go wrong and this particular week it did. Out of four black and white printers one primary printer broke down along with a bill/coin machine used for printing when a student without their student ID needs or a non-student wants to print. On top of all of this we were answering all types of other questions, some related to library services and some just general questions regarding the college. Similar situations have happened to me as a Retail Manager On Duty, cash registers crashing, power goes out and credit card readers go offline. Store owners, here is my question to you, how do your store management teams respond to crisis? Have you trained them so they are prepared to address emergencies? I’ve also been a Loss Prevention Manager and have had to deal with a Checkpoint Security System that stopped working several times over my tenure. Issues were sometimes due to power outages and sometimes due to equipment malfunctions.
Before I go further, I may have readers who know about point of sale systems, credit readers, computer and scanning technology but have little information about a Checkpoint Security System and anti-shoplifting devices. A Checkpoint System is a series of components that uses radio frequency waves to protect merchandise from theft. Usually referred to as electronic article surveillance (EAS) technology, a system uses EAS towers at points in a store where owners don’t want unpaid merchandise to be carried by customers and near store entry/exit doors. EAS tags are the protective devices applied to merchandise that emit the radio frequency that is detected by the towers. Tagged merchandise carried too close to the towers sets off an alarm and elicits an immediate response from store personnel. Other critical components to a Checkpoint Security System are deactivation pads at the point of sale to “turn off” soft tags on some merchandise and Detachment keys to remove EAS hard tags for reuse later on. The system is effective as an anti-shoplifting tool for the alarms it creates when someone tries to steal merchandise. It also serves to deter theft since criminals try to avoid anything that may get them caught.
Back to my original point, when systems fail for one reason or another things can be totally out of control and some managers don’t know how to adapt. Leaders have to be ready to control a situation and redirect resources as necessary. In the case of our library printers I had our staff redirect patrons to the other three black and white printers in the building. Although somewhat inconvenient the students were still able to print. If a customer needed to pay for a print job with cash we were accepting the money, giving change and releasing the print job manually. We adapted to the situation, found alternative solutions and maintained control of what was taking place in our building.
In those situations as an L.P. Manager when my Checkpoint Security System would stop working, I took steps to minimize the chance someone would be able to steal. I did trouble shooting on my end, then placed a service call to the vendor. In the meantime I had a store employee stationed at the front doors to conduct receipt checks and I had one of my uniformed security officers walk the salesfloor as an anti-shoplifting solution. It was important to have someone visible to deter thieves who might try to take advantage of a situation if word got out that the system was not functioning properly.
Store owners train your managers to be leaders when things start to go awry. It may be as simple as being the person who keeps things calm and orderly when the power fails. It could be redirecting customers to a functioning register when one goes down, as long as you can keep ringing sales. Freezing up or failing to lead during any crisis leads to chaos and a lack of trust of those who depend on a manager for guidance. Don’t let breakdowns in equipment such as a Checkpoint Security System lead to breakdowns in leadership.
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