Vending Operator Tools Basic Security The route man with a bad habit can result in a theft… The basic problem in dealing with cash is… people want it.
Your habits are part of your security:
- Have your head on a swivel; pay attention to your surroundings, be aware of what’s happening in your environment.
- Don’t do the same things every time you go to an account. Criminals will watch you and know how long you go into that stop so they can get to your money.
- Make sure people in your account know who services them.
- Don’t put all your money in one place.
Tom Shivers:Vending Operator Tools Basic Security I’m Tom with the Vending Business Show, here with Larry Towner, the Vending Business Consultant with Service Group International, and we’re finishing up a series on vending business tools, only this is more about tips.
Tom Shivers: Tell us what we’re going to be talking about today, Larry.
Larry Towner: Tom, you and I were just talking and we decided we were going to talk about Vending Operator Tools Basic Security so I wanted to tell a quick story here because I’m a storyteller at heart, what can I say?
Larry Towner: I had a routeman one time who used to have a really bad habit. His habit was he would take the money out of the machines, put it in the bags, and then he would take and put it in a box and set it on the table. Then turn it around and service his machines.
Larry Towner: One day he did that, and of course, there’s a couple people in the room, and he turns around and his box with the money has taken a vacation on him. It’s gone out the door with somebody that we never did figure out who took it.
Larry Towner: So we wanted to talk to you a little bit about security. That seems like an exaggerated story, but there’s plenty of stories in fact that go on in the vending industry because after all, we do deal in cash. The basic problem in dealing with cash is people want it. They really want it, and they’ll just take it because they think it’s great. Besides you, the Mr. Vending Man, “You make all that money. Oh my God, help me, so you can spare some of that money.”
Larry Towner: Anyway, the biggest thing I want to talk about has to do with your habits and how you do things. One of the big things that I always did, and I have my head on a swivel all the time. I’m forever looking to the sides and looking backwards. I look around. I pay attention to what goes on in my surroundings.
Larry Towner: You pull into a place and it’s late at night. You’re alone or you’ve got very few people there, you really need to have your head on a swivel. You’ve got to be very careful of who’s around and things like that, and that even goes for the daytime. You’ve got to be aware of what’s happening in your environment, especially when you’re dealing with money.
Larry Towner: One of the other habits is, don’t do what my routeman did. Don’t take the money out of the machine until the very last part of the service cycle. It makes sense, but I see people do it. I’ve ridden with other vending men and they’ll do it, vending people, whatever, and they’ll do it before they’re done.
Larry Towner: One of the things that I always say is, “Keep your head on a swivel.” Look around a lot and really pay attention to what’s going on around you, what’s going on around your truck. Get out of bad habits. Don’t do the same thing every time when you go to an account. Don’t go to an account the same time every day.
Larry Towner: The criminals, if you want to call them that, the real criminals, somebody that intentionally comes to steal from you, will be watching you, and they will watch you, and they will know how long you go into work in that stop. They’ll break into your truck, and they’ll take stuff. Or try to find money, but they’ll take your stuff too. If you get in the way, they tend to not be very nice so it’s a lot about safety and a lot about things like that.
Larry Towner: One of the other things, another tip that you can do to stay secure is make sure people in your account know who services that account, be it you or one of your route men. Give them an idea of who’s there, and if you can, get them to challenge anybody that comes in to work on the machines.
Larry Towner: This comes from, I believe, it was Automatic Merchandiser or Vending Times, it doesn’t matter, but there are people out there that have picks for locks. They have the round key lock picks. They will actually follow vending people around about half the time between your service intervals. They go in and help themselves to the money. They don’t take it all so it can take you quite a long time before you figure out that you’re actually having a theft problem.
Larry Towner: I’m reminded of this because in this one particular case that they mentioned, this particular criminal got caught because the person at the front desk challenged him. He said, “Oh, I work for the vending company.” She didn’t recognize him. She called the vending company. Vending company said, “We don’t have anybody working out there right now.” They called the police. That guy got put in jail, but he said he took $67,000 from that company in the two week period following their vending man around and picking the locks, and they never knew. They never knew what was going on.
Larry Towner: He got caught because somebody in the account said, “You don’t work for that company.” He was dressed like a vending man. He had the uniform on, the whole deal, but he was very crafty, but somebody knew him. So that’s a good tip.
Larry Towner: The other tip, I can’t stress enough-
Tom Shivers: Hold on to that one.
Tom Shivers: What can a vending company do to help the front office sniff that kind of thing out?
Larry Towner: Really, if you introduce yourself to somebody in the front office or wherever you enter the building and even at the machines, if you get to be friendly with some of the people there, they’ll get to know you.
Larry Towner: Somebody goes up to the machine, and if you change personnel or if somebody different’s working the account say, “Oh yeah, I work with so and so.” If they don’t know who what is like … Let’s just say, “Tom, you work with me, and you’re in servicing an account while I have to go do it for you one day, and somebody comes up to me and they say, “Oh, where’s Tom tonight?” You go, “Oh yeah, Tom, yeah. He’s a good guy.”
Larry Towner: They suspect it after a while. People aren’t … They pay attention too. So you just have to let people know, and if you as a routeman are out there talking, you say, “We’ve only got two guys that work in the company. I’ve got a service guy.” Or he’s going to say, “I’ve got a service guy and 15 other guys, but they all know me.”
Larry Towner: It’s just that kind of thing. If you just let people know, they’ll keep an eye on your stuff because you’re doing them a service. If you’ve been in vending awhile, you’ll find out that they really depend on you a lot, or at least they did in my accounts. They really depended on me for their snacks because they were hungry, and they wanted to eat so they wanted to make sure that they were being taken care of. That’s one way to do it.
Larry Towner: Stay observant. Get out of patterns. Don’t do the same thing at the same times every week. Make sure that you don’t … Don’t put all your money in one place or get a safe, and put it all in the safe. Now they’ll work on the safe too, and they’ll steal the safe or they’ll steal the truck and steal the [inaudible 00:06:37].
Larry Towner: But either way, you can do a bunch of things. So that’s just a couple of ideas, but the biggest thing is pay attention. Just keep your head on a swivel. Don’t get locked stepped into anything. Don’t flash the money around. Don’t stick it in the bags behind your back so people don’t see you. Things like that, and just don’t show how much is there, and it will greatly reduce your chances of being stolen from.
Tom Shivers: Excellent tips. Thanks so much, Larry.
Tom Shivers: If you want more good vending business tips like this, be sure to subscribe. You’ve been watching Vending Operator Tools Basic Security at the Vending Business Show, a publication of A&M Equipment Sales.
You can see another Vending tip at Vending Operator Tools: Money Handling