We’ve been talking about fraud, and last week I asked you to create a fraud policy if you didn’t already have one. Pardon me for assuming that you don’t already have one but experience tells me you don’t. What you may find that what you do have, though, is an informal fraud policy – and you may not even know it.
Though I insist that an official, stated, written and shared Fraud Policy is important, I will be happy knowing that you also have an informal fraud policy.
An informal fraud policy is one that is implied by your actions and the state of things around your business – like security – but that is not directly stated. An informal policy is also known as a psychological fraud policy.
The Circuitous Route
I once ran a retail chain out of Delaware. The shrinkage was 5 or 6%, and when the company was doing 100 million dollars a year in business, we weren’t talking about an insignificant number here. That was about 6 million dollars a year of stolen goods.
Before I got there, when a cashier or sales associate was caught stealing the manager would have that person quietly taken into the back, loaded into a police car and inconspicuously taken to jail. But this is not Victorian England, and we need not be so discreet.
When I started running this operation and I caught someone stealing, I had multiple police officers parade them through the store in hand cuffs in a circuitous route. The police car would be out front lights swirling and sirens blaring, and the perpetrator would have tears coming out of his or her eyes. I wanted everyone to see, from employees to customers to management.
The Effects of the Roundabout Way
That policy resulted in a reduction of shrinkage by 50% in the first month. Over the course of the year that translated into three million dollars saved because people became far more terrified of the embarrassing consequences of getting caught stealing. They knew that I would take real and serious action against them and prosecute them for stealing.
Another example of a psychological fraud policy is a warehouse at which I had a ton of merchandise walking out the back door. All I did was stick a camera right outside that door, drill a hole in the wall and feed a little wire through. That camera and wire didn’t even go anywhere! They weren’t hooked up, but just putting it there scared everyone enough to stop stealing. Shrink declined immediately and dramatically.
Those are examples of informal and psychological fraud policies. Neither is stated in words on a sign, but they are actions that are regularly being taken agains those who are stealing and committing fraud, and employees understand the consequences of those actions.
Do you have an informal or psychological fraud policy at your business? If so, what is it and if not, what sorts of measures could you put in place to have one?