I want to discuss office security. I
realize that we don't work in a very dangerous environment.
We don't have the worries that a night owl worker at the
local convenience store does. We don't have a real high
theft product. We must not let a false sense of security
lull us into apathy.
One of the main security concerns in an
optical office is theft. Theft comes in many ways. Theft can
be from patients, customers or our own co-workers. Theft
from within is often referred to as shrinkage. In optical,
shrinkage usually comes in the form of stealing frames from
inventory. The best way to combat this is to be aware. Watch
what is ordered. Take note when frames come in. Check your
invoices against what frames comes in. Browse your frame
boards. Get acquainted with the frames in your inventory.
Watch what is being sold. Let your co-workers, or employees
know that you are aware of what is coming and going.
We must also be aware of what is on the
frame boards when dealing with patients. Frames are easy
pickings for the dishonest. One of the best ways to combat
theft of frames is to keep your frame board full at all
times. This helps you notice if anything is missing. Holes
on the frame board are an invitation to the dishonest. Their
stealing a frame or two will be easier if they know that you
are short frames to begin with. The missing frame will be
I like to take control in the dispensary
to avoid theft. My office staff is fantastic. We don't allow
patients to come back and look at frames unless the
Opticians are made aware and will bring the patient back
into the dispensary. We sit the patients down and bring
frames to them based on facial shape, skin tone,
prescription, needs and wants. This makes it easier on the
patient, easier on the Opticians, and promotes a secure
sales environment. I understand that this model will not
work for all.
For the offices that cannot operate like
our office, there are security moves that will help. You may
want to consider your frame tags. There are some frame tags
that look like little security tags that must be
de-magnetized. This simple idea may be enough to discourage
most sticky fingers. Frame tags that are easily removed, or
switched, are a bad choice. If you use these, make sure that
you check to be sure that the tag goes with the frame at the
time of sale.
You may also consider adding surveillance
cameras. There are many to choose from. They run from the
very basic, to the very sophisticated. There are even phony
cameras that you can pick up at most electronic stores.
These can be a great deterrent for most would be criminals.
The fact that the camera is there will make most people
think twice about snatching your frames.
One of the offices that my family owned
was in a rough part of town. We not only had the cameras,
but we also had a buzzer system. This was a series of
"panic" buttons spread throughout the office. If
the store got very busy, or if you felt unsafe, you could
tap one of the buttons to bring the other staff members from
the lab or other parts of the office. This worked great.
This office was a series of small rooms and it was hard to
keep track of who was coming and going. We also had several
mirrors positioned so that each room could be seen from the
others. Despite all of this, we still had a theft problem.
This leads me to the next, most important point.
Be aware! Look around. Take the position
that anything that could happen�might! I am an advocate of
the never work alone model. There is safety in numbers. One
thing that I insist on in my office is that I have another
co-worker with me if the last patient is a female. This
avoids any potential issue that could come up. Paranoid you
ask? Maybe. We also leave together. This ensures that we all
make it to our cars or rides safely. This has saved me and
fellow co-workers some grief over the years. One time, a
co-worker had a flat tire and we were able to change it and
get her on her way. What a jam she would have been in if I
left before she did. I am aware of the issues and want to do
all I can to provide a safe and secure work environment.
Does your office have any patient flow
controls? Do you have an alarm system? How many of your
employees or co-workers have keys to the office? Is the
outside of your office well lit? Talk to the local police
department. You might want to ask them to do a security
check of your office. This is a great way to get a real
world insight into the criminal mind. They may reveal chinks
in your security armor that you never thought of. The police
department may also provide drive-by security sweeps as part
of their nightly duties. We have a lot of police officers as
patients. Hopefully you do as well. Talk to them. Get their
opinions on security. They are a fantastic resource that is
This was a brief look into office
security. My main objective was to get you thinking. Look
around your office. What can you do to provide a safer, more
secure work environment? Have you had theft issues,
shrinkage, or un-explained losses? Start thinking about ways
to improve your office security. Shop the competition to see
what they are doing. Get to know others in your field so
that you can swap security tips with each other. Most
importantly, understand that office security starts in your
head. Be aware!