People in this field set up systems to reduce retail losses from theft
and fraud. Cameras, locks, security systems and electronic security tags are
some of the tools used. Consultants fight against internal (employee) and
external (customer) theft.
Most people in this field work for a medium- to large-sized retail chain.
They are also called security managers or consultants. Another name is resources
protection managers or consultants.
They install cameras and other devices to reduce losses. They may also
be responsible for managing loss prevention officers, also called floorwalkers.
Floorwalkers blend in with regular customers and watch for shoplifting in
grocery stores and other retail outlets.
"Most chains of any size have people dedicated to resources protection,
which is actually the new preferred phrase," says Randy Scotland. He works
with a retail council that represents more than 7,500 retailers.
He says it's unknown how many people work in the field. That's largely
because many managers handle loss prevention as only part of their job.
Loss prevention consultants don't work for individual companies. They prepare
reports for companies, suggesting loss prevention strategies.
Paul Lynn is a loss prevention consultant. He says a 40-hour week is rare.
"Probably 50 to 60 would be more typical," he says. "Because of the nature
of the business, I get called seven days a week, 24 hours a day."
Like many consultants, Lynn also manages a staff of loss prevention officers.
Their clients include several grocery stores. Lynn never knows when he'll
get paged. "I personally think it's a good stress," he says. "It's enjoyable
because, no matter what, every situation is different."
Above all, loss prevention consultants and managers are expected to save
a company money. Consultants in particular have to sell companies on the value
of their services.
"Sometimes it's hard to quantify what loss prevention will actually yield,"
says Greg Hurd. He's the chair of a chapter of the American Society for Industrial
"It's similar to having a policeman on the corner. If you have a policeman
on the corner, how many traffic accidents does he stop? How many robberies
does he stop? It's hard to quantify."
Loss prevention is a demanding field. The hours can be long and unpredictable,
and there are other challenges.
"It can be long hours," agrees Heather Veitch. She is an assistant manager
of loss prevention. "Sometimes I have 11 or 12 investigations on the go in
a 30-day period."
Many loss prevention consultants are former police officers. This may be
why very few women are involved in the consulting side, though they are well
represented on the management side.
"It still tends to be a male-dominated field," acknowledges Tim Lynn. He
is the owner of a loss prevention service. He was also a police officer for
With more women currently in the police force, Paul Lynn suspects the future
will see more women in loss prevention consulting. "I think there will be
a change soon, where women will start [entering this field]," he says.