Prepare your LP team for Black Friday

Focus on crowd control, communications, contingencies and staff coordination to create successful and safe retail events

One of the most important things a retailer can do to ensure excellent event coordination is to make sure the right people are at the event and in the right roles. For example, assign a boisterous people person to manage the crowd. This "sales" person will establish a rapport with the crowd easily, put a positive spin on their wait and possibly entertain them. Then assign the more security-focused person to observe the crowd, watching for agitated behavior that would require a security react. This obrserver is in place in case communication from the sales person is not effective.

It also means knowing when to contact law enforcement, and when to enact the emergency plan. The art of knowing what action to take and when is tricky. Loss prevention professionals are skilled in this, but they require the support of the entire retail organization to make their decisions effective.

Contingency Planning
Contingency planning applies to every aspect of planning. It is the art of anticipating how a scenario may differ from how it is planned. What if it rains? What if the power goes out? What if the celebrity does not show? This "what if" game is a worthy exercise so that the LP team has time to think through how they might react to an alternative situation.

Contingency planning for communications means identifying a back-up means of communication for key staff if the primary system is lost. Will the group meet at a specific location or will a specific team member call a gathering using a loudspeaker? If someone cuts in line or becomes unruly, who will make the decision about how it is handled -- whether the person is asked to leave the event or whether they will receive a reprimand and close supervision? If it's raining or extremely hot or cold at the event, will crowds be brought inside the building to wait in an effort to protect their own safety and health? If a bomb threat is called in, who has the authority to make the decision on whether or not the event is cancelled? How will the crowd be dispersed in case of an emergency? Good contingency planning means being prepared for anything and everything.

Just these few, simple insights can help everyone in retail better understand some of the aspects of ensuring a safe special retail event.

About the author: Eric White serves as director of retail strategy for Wren, providers of physical security solutions used by some of the world's most innovative and respected retailers including Walmart, The Home Depot and Target. White has 20 years of experience in loss prevention, asset protection and physical security, having served at Walmart and The Home Depot. He has been awarded Diplomate status for innovative work and leadership in the Private Sector and serves on the board of directors for the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS). White can be reached at You can find more of Eric White's commentary at Wren Solutions' LPXtra Blog.