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When Several Hemp Products Go Missing in Her Store, Kristy Must Figure Out How It Happened Despite Her Many Theft-Prevention Measures

When it seems like one of her managers is the theft, what should she do?

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ONLINE SALES HAVE really picked up lately, Kristy thought as she scrolled through the four orders that had arrived before she could even leave the house that morning. With three stores, it made sense to offer free delivery at each location to keep up with online competition.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy E. Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at . nancy@americanpetprofessionals.com

Kristy logged into her POS system to make sure the stores had the items ordered, and she was happy to see that everything was in stock at the locations closest to the delivery addresses. She began calling her managers to make sure they had the items pulled and ready for delivery.

When Kristy called the last store, her manager, Rachel, was clearly upset. Kristy asked what was wrong, and Rachel told her that their inventory was not correct and two bottles of CBD oil ordered were missing. Kristy told Rachel to look everywhere and to call her back with an update right away.

CBD products are kept behind the counter at her three locations, and excess inventory stays in a lockbox as there had been thefts in the past. Cameras are also placed throughout the stores to prevent theft. There was no way a customer would be able to steal CBD with all of the precautions taken.

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Kristy called one of her other locations and asked the manager to pull two bottles of CBD oil for the order, and then she left the house to pick them up. She planned to stop by the store Rachel manages after to complete the order and find out why inventory was off.

A few minutes later, Kristy’s cell phone rang again. It was Rachel telling her that she was not able to locate the two bottles of CBD oil and that four jars of CBD chews were also missing. Kristy told her to check the other locations’ inventory to see if the missing products were transferred by mistake or delivered to the wrong store with no one catching it. With three locations in close proximity, that had happened in the past.

When Rachel reported back that the products were indeed missing, Kristy was furious. She thought she would be able to control theft by keeping high-value items like CBD behind the counter.

When Kristy arrived to pick up the replacement CBD oil for the order, she logged into her POS system and looked up the SKUs for the missing items. Kristy noticed that in the past month, several jars of CBD chews had been adjusted out as “missing” by Rachel at the store she manages. One of the adjustments was made the day after an order of CBD had arrived from the distributor.

Kristy felt sick. She trusts her managers to make adjustments and keep their stores running efficiently, but now it seems one may be stealing products. Kristy knows Rachel has an older dog and that she uses CBD products. Kristy allows her managers to purchase anything at cost as she wants them to use and recommend the products they carry. Would Rachel really steal that many CBD products? And would she actually think she would not get caught?

The Big Questions

  • What other theft-prevention measures should Kristy put in place?
  • How should she approach Rachel about her possible role in the theft?
  • How should inventory adjustments be done in the future to prevent managers from adjusting out items without the owner’s knowledge?
Shane S.
Mill Creek, WA

Kristy should check her camera recordings (if they don’t record, she needs to fix that!) and see what was happening during the times Rachel was adjusting out the products. Is it possible another employee is keying in as Rachel to adjust the inventory? (I worked with someone years ago who did bogus returns for cash under other cashier codes, so maybe someone else was the culprit.) I’d also suggest she check Rachel’s purchase history: Is she still buying CBD in normal quantities and frequencies? Once she has some answers, she needs to go to Rachel and ask why she adjusted the inventory. If she claims it wasn’t her and seems sincere, then change her login to one unknown to anyone else and see what happens. It’s also possible that another employee has been taking products, and Rachel was adjusting when things went missing, but in that case she should have been relaying to Kristy that product was going missing and she should alert her to any further missing CBD.

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Ramie G.
Evanston, IL

You cannot accuse anyone without proof, so I’d check the cameras and make sure they are pointed where she needs them: where products are being handled by staff. Make sure that it’s not missing from the deliveries first. Have procedures for reporting damages and shortages.

Now, this is trickier: I worked in cosmetics departments while in college, and we had very strict rules about personal bags in the store, and trash went out in clear bags. Personal bags were checked when staff left the building. I would make sure that personal items were kept locked up in an area during the workday and distributed by managers when leaving. Managers had to comply, as well; someone looked in their bags when the stores closed. Have your register system send an inventory report each time the manager marks out damaged or missing items. If you have store managers reordering pricey items, you need to see that they were sold. This should help keep the honest people honest, but once it’s gone, it’s too late.

Paul L.
Webster, NY

We have many security cameras placed throughout the store, not hidden but in plain sight. If the staff is aware that video could be reviewed, I believe it would make a difference.

Brett F.
Owego, NY

Security cameras should be installed or more added, or existing cameras should be angled to view areas of concern.

All the relevant information needs to be printed out, and a private meeting should take place between owner and manager. If there is no reasonable answer for the missing product, then the manager should be fired unnless she can prove it isn’t theft on her part. It’s a bit of micromanaging but no inventory adjustments are done in my store without a complete breakdown of what, when and why, which my manager writes up for me to review.

Tonya C.
Grand Haven, MI

Put a camera on it. I keep it behind the counter because we had some go missing. It stopped. One person with key per shift to locked case. If it’s really bad, I’d have them take inventory at the beginning and end of shifts like the cash drawer. Accountability.

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Caitlyn C.
Whitefish, MT

Well, for one, the most common way that we lose inventory seems to be that the distribution warehouse ships the wrong amount, we aren’t careful enough when checking off our invoice, and then record that we received what the invoice says when really we received more or less than what we ordered. We have taken strides to curb this from happening and are seeing improvements. We did this by being more mindful, taking more time with the invoices and having a double-check system.

Hopefully this is the issue with Kristy’s store that Rachel manages. That being said, our current employees have never and would never steal, of which we are confident. It’s sad that any employee would. I think Kristy should check the video feed and obtain proof of the theft and who it was before asking Rachel. Then if she knows it’s Rachel, she can ask Rachel and see what her reaction is.

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Nancy E. Hassel is founder and president of American Pet Professionals (APP), an award-winning networking and educational organization dedicated to helping pet entrepreneurs, businesses and animal rescues to grow, work together and unite the pet industry. Contact her at nancy@americanpetprofessionals.com.

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