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Managing Optician

Office Security

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 less noticeable.

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 worth tapping!

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!

Bob Fesmire
ABO/NCLE

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