What Is Asset Protection’s Role?
For the past several years SEI has been pursuing an aggressive growth plan, acquiring smaller chains, building more traditional locations, and converting existing mom-and-pop stores through its Business Conversion Plan. Throughout this time the 7-Eleven system has also been changing—a new ordering system, the new GEA cleanliness standards, new accounting pro- cedures, and other operational changes that now require more labor hours and expenses. However, one department has changed so much that its new role in the system is difficult to pin down, and that department is Asset Protection.
It is hard for the average franchisee to understand Asset Protection’s new role, as it has changed without notice and without training provided. To date, it is very rare to see a local Asset Protection manager deliver a presentation on all these changes even for ten minutes.
First, the name took a modern twist from “Loss Prevention” to “Asset Protection,” and now this department executes most of the new directives coming out of corporate. Recovery of lost shared gross profit dollars, financial impact worksheets, matrix tutorials, and implementing the multiple-store criteria are all the new jobs of Asset Protection. The multiple-store criteria remain a complete mystery—franchisees have not been presented with a clear explanation of why they have been turned down for another store.
New directions arrived in the first week of March containing sixteen matrixes. They will be utilized as “an exception-based reporting tool to identify store-level transactions” in order to find out if our employees need more training or to detect fraud. We are told that regular review of these matrixes may improve employee performance or prevent inventory variation and employee theft. A wide-ranging explanation was given as to why all these reviews should be performed on a daily basis, but some of these departmental transactions can also be controlled by SEI’s IT team making procedural changes such as Tobacco Transaction Discount, Negative Promotion Discount, changing manufacturer’s keys by linking them to the correct merchandise, or not permitting the scanning of a negative discount merchandise transaction without the sale of the concerned item.
Franchisees have been paying their share of inventory shortages for years that includes shoplifting in tough neighborhoods, especially at stores in low income areas, and are being told that it is part of running the business in such areas. Changes in policy to recover SEI’s lost share of these gross profit dollars ends up in reduced income for these franchisees. I would like to suggest now that these high-risk stores be identified from past Asset Protection records and a training program be put in place to raise awareness and allow franchisees to develop the advanced “Asset Protection” skills to cope with these thefts. I like to believe that franchisees are the company’s biggest asset, so for stores in these problem areas, training franchisees at the market level may bring some good results.