This series is about how retail traffic counting, customer service and theft prevention all relate to each other. It is also a discussion on how leadership impacts the environment in a business and can build success or damage morale. As my examples for this article I referenced visits I recently made to two different fast food restaurants. I used Part 1 to illustrate the poor example of service and how it appeared management had failed to plan for a particularly busy shift or a busy day based on my observations. Had that business been a retail store I have no doubt that customers would have abandoned shopping carts and shoplifters would have been able to steal to their hearts content. I also noted that employees were not friendly and it may well have been the result of the way the manager was reacting to the situation and barking orders and questioning employees.
In Part 2 I am sharing a much more positive experience at another restaurant and the lessons that can be applied to a retail store. It was another busy day and I will go out on a limb and say the second restaurant was even busier than the first had been. Cars were lined up completely around the building at the drive through and the parking lot was full. I parked and went in expecting to have to wait a considerable amount of time. That turned out not to be the case, I was able to go up to the counter and order my food. The cashier was pleasant and took my order then began to fill it. I stepped back and watched the team. The manager was giving directions but was also encouraging the team. He wasn’t stressed though he had every right to be based on the number of patrons. Every employee I could see was smiling and appeared to be in good spirits. There seemed to be an adequate number of workers to meet the needs of the day. I don’t know what the business used for staffing or planning but if they were a retail business I would have guessed they used customer counting systems to help plan for the day or the week. To top off this trip as I walked out to my car I saw that not only were cars going through the drive through, the manager had two employees going to those cars to take orders by hand and deliver them to the window to speed up service. I was impressed.
Using these two restaurants in comparison I would ask how your stores stack up in terms of leadership and customer service. If you were to use a retail traffic counting device you would be able to use hard numbers to know when traffic flow is taking place. Use that information to make effective schedules, having the right number of workers in place at the right time. That alone will go a long way in keeping your workers happy. It also makes life easier on managers who aren’t feeling under pressure to do the work rather than being able to take a step back and provide directions. Stressed managers stress the teams working for them.
How easy is it to set up customer counting systems? If you have a Sensormatic security system it may be just a matter of incorporating it in an existing security tower. If you don’t have a Sensormatic system to prevent shoplifting I can tell you that they are affordable even for the smallest of stores. Even better, if you were to purchase it through Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. you receive free anti-shoplifting training that will help you effectively reduce theft and learn how to respond to Sensormatic system alarms. If cost is a concern they also offer financing options. As someone who has been in retail for over 28 years I strongly recommend that you visit the Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. website for more information on customer counting systems and anti-theft devices.
It should be noted that improving customer service by having an adequate number of people working affects more than just employee happiness. I will tell you that having enough workers available when your store is busy improves sales as more attention can be given to assisting shoppers on the salesfloor. It is also an effective means of combating shoplifting, especially when used with a Sensormatic security system. To staff properly don’t take a guess at how you should schedule. Use a retail traffic counting device and start to reap the benefits immediately. You can count on it!
Customer counting systems are important and we can help you with it. Call 1.770.426.0547 and let’s talk.
Writing about the importance of retail traffic counting to improve sales and also writing about how it can help reduce shortage seem to be incongruent at first glance. How does keeping track of the number of people entering your store have anything to do with efforts to prevent shoplifting or any other criminal activity, i.e. purse snatching, property theft, sexual misconduct and so on? The questions came to my mind as I was preparing to write an article on recent customer service experiences I encountered in recent visits to two different fast food chains. One visit was exceptional and one was the polar opposite. Then I had to consider that I was not only going to explain the tie in between customer counting systems, customer service and the impact on theft deterrence I was also going to toss in the fast food business to retail store owners and operators. I started to question my own sanity. As I considered the mess I was trying to create it dawned on me, it all DOES relate and it makes the fact that I am comparing restaurants to stores makes no difference. Both are service industries and who is being served? Customers are being served, that is who.
The two experiences that led me to this topic started when I had gone to a famous burger restaurant. Someone may be arching their brow in curiosity about which chain I am talking about but I am going to refrain. I like the food and this is not my experience at all of their restaurants. This day was busy and the parking lot was full and the line of cars for the drive though was lengthy. I chose to go inside rather than sit idling for too long. I was able to order in just a few minutes but as I stood waiting I watched the activity behind the counter and the customers waiting with me. Cashiers were chatting with customers who had already placed orders while the people trying to bag orders and get the food were harried and looked anxious. The manager was yelling at cooks and employees asking where orders were and trying to give directions but she seemed to be barely in control, bagging orders herself and barking at staff. On top of this some customers who, like me, were waiting for their food were frazzled. Some customers who ordered after us received their food before us. When I did get to the car with my food I checked the bag before driving off and found I had been shorted a burger. This was a very unpleasant customer service experience. It was clear to me that no planning went into staffing for the day and perhaps retail traffic counting COULD have been a useful tool for this business. I also saw that management as being a part of the problem not managing but rather reacting to situations and not in control.
Now this was the poor example of customer service and I don’t like to dwell on negatives. I would prefer to help a business correct a problem and improve the customer service. As customer service improves sales grow. Bill Bregar, the founder of Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. would agree with me on this point. His background is in investigations and retail Loss Prevention but he knows the value of a great customer service culture. Bill recognizes how it serves to improve sales and will also reduce store theft and that is the reason he supports the use of customer counting systems to track foot traffic. Using that information retailers can plan and schedule much more effectively for future store activity. Sensormatic offers a retail traffic counting sensor that can be added to many existing Sensormatic electronic article surveillance towers. Those retailers that already use Sensormatic security systems will have the added benefit of tracking alarm activity which can aid in theft prevention plans and evaluating alarm response.
I love a good cliff hanger and so I am going to leave one of my own here. If you would like to read about the great customer service experience I had and what was so different about it from the first restaurant you will need to look for Part 2 to this series. This will be particularly important if you want to see how customer counting systems and customer service can be used in your business and grow your sales.
Get more information on retail traffic counting, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 now.
Have you ever wanted effective customer counting systems in your retail? How about incorporating retail traffic counting into a Sensormatic security system? We can do it. In fact, given the low cost it is simply not smart to leave it out of a Sensormatic system.
But, what will it do for you? We have a long time customer with eight stores that incorporated retail traffic counting into the systems we installed. Besides the obvious like counting traffic by time of day, day of the week, etc., a number of other surprise benefits arose. Our customer told me that in the first year the people counting portion of the system saved them in excess of $100K!
They found that there were stores that were opening too early/late and some that were closing to early/late. They combined our people counting systems data with their sales data and these revelations jumped out at them. They made adjustments to the hours in individual stores and their sales climbed significantly.
They also found that they were better able to adjust staffing needs to accommodate customer traffic. It makes sense. Why have staff on the floor when the customer traffic is low? On the other hand if you know there is a spike every Wednesday between 2:00 PM and 3:45 PM, you would want to make sure you have enough folks on the floor to accommodate.
But you may be saying to yourself now “I have my sales data to tell me that”. Sales data is only a piece of the puzzle. Sales data tells you how many customers made a purchase. It does not tell you how many lost opportunities there were because customers could not get assistance, make a decision or find something. On top of that, we know that properly trained staff will have add-on sales. “I think this scarf would look lovely with the blouse you picked out”. So we have more opportunities to increase the sales with the customers we have already attracted to the store. That is the benefit of having the right people on the sales floor at the right time.
All of this leads us to the big elephant in the room, payroll! We know that our largest expense tends to be labor. A retail traffic counting system will help you to reduce or use your payroll dollars much more efficiently as I have demonstrated above.
Sensormatic systems have retail traffic counting built in on many models. You will receive automated reports and can access the system dashboard at any time. Most Sensormatic systems have a built in network card to attach to your high speed router. The software monitoring is called SMaaS which stands for Shrink Management as a Service. This cloud based loss prevention service is designed to help enhance your stores productivity, increase reliability and boost system performance.
Additional features of SMaaS include the ability for you to have the systems power themselves up/down to a lower rate of energy consumption. Over a year’s period of time that will add up. You can also access real time data involving Sensormatic systems alarms, maintenance issues and much more. Here is the full list of features:
• Will help ensure reliability and optimal Sensormatic system performance with 24/7/365 remote monitoring and management of connected EAS equipment health statuses. This monitoring is provided by Sensormatic.
• Correct equipment issues in a proactive way with notification of service required to rectify problems
• Gather insights to help make effective data-driven decisions that will impact your shrink and bottom line results
• You are emailed notifications when your systems activity exceed a predetermined threshold so you know when an exception has occurred
• Minimize your Sensormatic systems downtime to help you spend less time managing
• Highly scalable and customizable cloud infrastructure and EAS event reporting
Contact Loss Prevention Systems today or call 1-770-426-0547 to learn more about Sensormatic Security Systems, retail traffic counting, people counting systems and customer counting systems.
The area I live in has several annual events coming up that are good for businesses and would make it beneficial for store owners to invest in customer counting systems. I say this because while I was working at my part-time retail job I thought about the coming month and two of those activities that will be taking place. Having lived here for over 30 years I am very familiar with the events and I also know that many vendors are in attendance and will need supplies. Some purchase cash boxes, some raffle tickets and others will purchase cash registers. Since I have worked for this retailer for over seven years now I know many of the requests we will get so I started to look at our in-stocks on several of the items. Sure enough we were out of many or critically low and there is a good chance we will lose sales without getting more into the store. We were still several weeks away from the start of the season so I let my store manager know of the potential for missed sales opportunities if we did not put in a request for replenishment of these items. The store manager said he would look into it. The company I work for does have a door counting sensor and the data is tracked and used to some extent I just do not know how much. For small and medium sized retailers if you aren’t keeping track of the foot traffic in your store you could be missing your own opportunities to increase sales.
Customer counting systems are exactly what they sound like. They are systems used to keep up with the number of people entering a store. While many stores will track only the number of sales transactions that take place through the point of sale systems, the system reports how many people entered the building. Some may be protesting, “Why should I care about how many people came in, I need to know how many people spent money!” You should care because if there is a difference between transactions and foot traffic you should be asking, “Why didn’t these people spend money in my store?” How many missed opportunities were there to get an additional sale and your team dropped the ball? During special events or activities was there an increase in patronage that did not reflect in your sales? Was there anything you could have done to increase sales during those times or improve add-on sales? These are all questions that would not need to be asked if a store manager has a door counting sensor installed.
The addition of a door counting sensor would be beneficial to the small store owner for evaluating the impact local events are having on your business. Using the information gleaned from that data can help prepare you for similar events in the future. If the activity is going to be an annual event then you can look at what you sold and ran out of and have more on hand next time. As an example take the Fourth of July. If you sell coolers, grills, grilling accessories or outdoor games look at what your foot traffic was last year and sales of those items. Did you run out? Add a few more units to your on-hands the next year. Did your door counts far exceed your sales transactions? You can use this information in conjunction with your scheduling plans to determine if you could have used additional floor help to provide service. Could you have used an extra cashier to ring transactions so people would not get frustrated and leave empty handed? Bill Bregar, the founder of Loss Prevention Systems Inc. recognizes that not having real patron numbers only gives you a glimpse at what is really taking place in your store. This is why he strongly supports adding a system to his client’s stores.
Customer counting systems are a valuable tool for retailers who are truly interested in improving sales. Used in conjunction with sales data and calendar and event activities it can be a powerful addition for evaluating what you are doing and preparing for future activities. Don’t settle for less than your store can actually produce, install a door counting sensor today!
Get more information on customer counting systems, contact us or call 1.770.426.0547 today
I work in a college library as a day shift supervisor. I have recently changed shifts from being an overnight supervisor in the same library for the past six years. The difference in positions is significant. Where I am used to working with only a few students in the building after 1:00am, I now have to adjust to having several hundred in the building at any given time. This means we provide more assistance, have more student workers during a shift and usually will have more staff at one time. We also have more resources on campus to refer a patron to when they have questions regarding their enrollment, classes, fines, etc. There are times when retail owners and managers have varying numbers of customers in their buildings too. Knowing when those differences take place and being able to track them by day of the week, hour of the day or a particular seasonal event enables store managers to adjust workloads around those times and utilize payroll dollars in a manner that makes sense. The question is, how do you track customer counts? Using customer counting systems is the most efficient means of doing this.
Customer counting systems keep track of the number of people entering a store by the hour of day. In our library we send a worker around with an iPad and they count the number of people we have on an hourly basis. A door counting sensor can alleviate this problem and for a store, a waste of payroll if someone is stationed at a door to count heads. They can provide electronic article surveillance (EAS) alarm response time for store managers to assess whether personnel are responding to alarms appropriately. The advantage of having the EAS system is that a store can impact theft and fraud and improve profits through reduced shrink. Add that to the benefits of adjusting payroll to be customer driven and stores can see substantial profit increases.
I know some of you may doubt me right now. It sounds a little incredible that something as simple as a door counting sensor could really make an impact on sales. Consider for a moment that there are people coming into your store and leaving without making any purchases. If you knew how many people are visiting and at what time they are visiting you could adjust your scheduling. I am aware of two methods that are regularly used for retail scheduling by large businesses. One method is when a store is allocated payroll hours by a headquarters and stores use the hours where they deem appropriate. It may be based on merchandise shipments that will be coming in that week or a store manager allotting hours based on prior year sales data.
The other means I have seen used is to have payroll dollars allocated to a store. The headache with this is there has to be tracking of employee pay rates. A store may have to have fewer people on the salesfloor for a shift since Mary Ann earns $10.00 an hour while Jimmy Bob earns $8.00 an hour. When these stores are trending over that dollar amount they have to cut payroll dollars. This poses a conundrum for the store management team they have to decide where those hours will come from. Do you take it from cashiering? Then you have a line of customers that gets angry and abandons shopping carts and leave the store. Oh and don’t forget the snowball effect that has. Now, someone has to get all the merchandise put back and that is on top of the regular tasks that have to be done before the store closes. Is the team going to have to stay later than scheduled in order to get the store back in shape for the next day? A customer counting system allows managers to see when the peak traffic is in the store. Payroll based on dollars or hours using old sales information may give a false picture of the needs for the store.
Get a true picture of how many people are coming into your store. Use a door counting sensor and get reliable information without wasting payroll dollars to do it. When you staff your store to provide adequate service to all of the people walking through your doors you will see your sales improve and that translates to more returning customers and new customers due to word of mouth advertising.
Need information on a door counting sensor? Give us a call at 1.770.426.0547 now.