It’s a technology that’s been around a long time, but Retail Loss Prevention Managers will have to make more use of it, and maybe use it better.

That’s a tip from Gary Moncur, who’s on the steering committee for the Retail Risk – New York conference. He is talking, of course, about the phone.

LP budgets are shrinking and managers’ store counts are rising, and that’s where the phone interview comes in really useful, he reminds us.

(David Thompson, VP of Operations, Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. will be talking in detail about interview techniques at the Retail Risk – New York conference. Tickets are complimentary for retailers and end users – to register go to http://eriskevents.com/new-york-booking/ )

As Director, Loss Prevention (North America) for the Compass Group, the world leader in commercial food and hospitality services, Gary covers a lot of locations with a small team. It was the same in his previous job with Dollar General, where he was a divisional LP manager with a team of 20 people, some of them covering 300 stores.

“When you have so many locations and you’re spread out you cannot be everywhere and it’s less cost-effective. Phone interviews are not the preferred method but with the geography being challenging if someone is good on the phone it really helps them in their role,” he says.

“Most retailers have CCTV at most locations and if they are utilising exception based reporting, then with a combination of those two things you can pretty well ascertain whether there’s a problem. Then the phone conversation becomes a lot easier because it’s not so much about what they have done as why they have done it. On the phone you can use the technology to develop a case before you step out of the office.”

To demonstrate competence as an interviewer, on the phone and face to face, Gary recommends the Certified Forensic Interviewer designation, which was introduced in 2004 and held (in 2016) by 1,600 individuals worldwide.

“it’s a really nice certification for an LP professional to have. If I’m looking to hire someone it’s one of the first things we look at these days.”

Originally from Edinburgh, Gary started working for Toys R Us when he moved to the United States and then transferred to Babies R Us. He found Loss Prevention was tough to get into, but managed it after multiple attempts and in the past few years moved to the food service and hospitality sector – a career path that many other LP executives may want to follow.

In principle, he says, the switch isn’t hard to make.

“The experience should carry over. Of course, you have to sell yourself, but I think retail LP professionals can and should look outside of the industry.

“I tell people that food service hospitality is so different from retail except for one thing: people steal in exactly the same way. They steal cash, they steal through the back door and through the front door, they falsify inventory, it’s all the same kind of issues so I do feel strongly that we can transition to other sectors.”