Being a victim of theft is always painful. It feels very personal, whether the thief steals from you directly or from your sports center.
Potential stolen assets range from physical products (such as candy bars from the concession stand) to data (such as client contact information). Even if you haven’t been stolen from yet, you should prepare for your sports center to be targeted. Here are a few steps to take.
Preventing Equipment and Merchandise Theft
- Research the options for tracking your facility’s hardware. iPhones have built-in GPS systems, for example, and there are apps available that can track other devices if they’re stolen.
- Track all purchases at your sports center- particularly cash sales – with a reliable system that records the details of what has been purchased and which employee completed the transaction. Even concession stand sales can be easily tracked with a simple point of sale system. When this type of data isn’t recorded automatically, theft and miscalculations result in lost revenue – and small losses add up quickly.
- Employees should check other equipment in and out for customers using a reliable system, electronic or otherwise.
Preventing Customer Data Theft
Your customer database is extremely valuable, and having it stolen affects both your bottom line and your reputation, because clients trust you to keep their information safe and private.
I have heard too many firsthand stories from clients whose databases have been taken by employees for use at a competing sports center. If your employees can access your client database, you need to know who accesses it, when, and from where. (eSoft Planner provides custom staff permissions levels and tracks downloads and for this reason.) I hope this is obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: If you’re using a simple spreadsheet on your computer to track these client details, you’re leaving yourself and your clients very vulnerable.
Remember: 99% of your staff will never try to steal from you. There’s no reason to go overboard or get paranoid; your staff needs reasonable access to your clients’ information for day-to-day operations. However, there’s also no reason make your full customer database easy to download.
Preventing Theft of Services
This type of sports facility theft is the most common, and it’s the one with which sports facility owners are the most complacent. When a client schedules and then does not pay for a lesson or class – whether they attend or not, and whether they did it deliberately or not – you’re being taken advantage of. You lose money from the lesson itself, but you also lose money in the form of the instructor’s time and the space that could have been used for other purposes. This is why I’m so adamant about requiring upfront payment at my own sports facility. If a client later cancels for what you determine to be a legitimate excuse, you can always opt to give them a full or partial refund at that point.
You can never completely prevent theft, and only you can evaluate how much energy you want to invest in deterring, investigating and prosecuting theft at your sports facility. Remember that your time and your energy are your greatest assets, and stressing out over a stolen company iPad for a week can cost you much more in the form of lost time and energy than what you originally paid for the stolen equipment.
eSoft Planner can track equipment, purchases and employee activities, all of which help prevent theft at your facility. Submit a free demo request if you’d like to see the tool for yourself. If you’d like to consult with me on sports facility management, call (513) 791-4940.