Is The LP Foundation Creating A New Breed Of Retail LP Professionals?
By Bob Johns, associate editor
I recently had a chance to talk with Gene Smith, president of the Loss Prevention Foundation, to find out a little more about the organization and what it does. One thing I noticed right away is how passionate Gene is about loss prevention (LP). He is striving to help the profession evolve and become truly professional. “The new loss prevention professional may not come from a security background. Rather, they may come from more nontraditional areas such as operations,” Smith notes. As LP technologies have changed, so have the roles of LP managers. Smith is helping retailers to view LP from a holistic business approach that affects profitability. LP affects a retailer’s profitability through both financials and operations, not just from reducing shoplifting.
“At the Loss Prevention Foundation, our goal is to create a comprehensive LP understanding,” Smith says. The LP Foundation aims to increase the education level of LP professionals through accredited certifications, LPQ (LP Qualified) & LPC (LP Certified), and working directly with universities that offer course credit. According to Smith, the LPQ certification is designed to be a benchmark educational program for both entry level staff and individuals already within the profession, while the LPC is designed as advanced education for loss prevention professionals interested in career advancement. Some of the participating universities even offer guaranteed interviews with top retailers upon graduation from the programs. Universities such as Eastern Kentucky, Fairleigh Dickinson, Grand Valley State, University of Leicester, Loyola, Northeastern, Northern Michigan, University of Florida, North Carolina Central, Rutgers, and others are all involved in furthering the LP Foundation’s goal of educating the LP professional.
Smith says that, “The LP Foundation remains a completely independent nonprofit organization that is not distracted from its mission by other concerns.” He notes that in order for the education and certifications to be credible and valuable, the foundation cannot be perceived to be beholden to any one organization or company. It needs to be an industry wide focus that is supported by all of retail. This is one reason the foundation was created to exclusively serve the education needs of LP in retail. The board is composed of high-level executives from retailers and LP companies working toward one goal — improving the LP profession. Executives from Best Buy, eBay, The Home Depot, Walmart, Staples, AutoZone, Walgreens, and many other retailers offer input throughout the year on what is happening in the industry and what needs to be happening. Each of the professionals offers their unique view on LP and store operations within the industry as well as within their organizations. This pooling of knowledge helps to guide both the foundation’s direction and the educational programs.
Smith is extremely proud of the LP Foundation’s “Hire-A-Vet” program to help educate veterans in LP and help them transition from the military to retail LP jobs. “Military candidates make ideal applicants for the thousands of unfilled supervision/management positions that the retail LP industry has,” Smith says. The retail industry has hired many veterans over the years, and will continue in the future. By offering an education and industry accepted certification program, the LP Foundation helps retailers connect with highly qualified LP candidates while helping veterans further their education and achieve goals for better employment.
The LP Foundation is a leader in the retail LP space, capitalizing on the need to elevate the profession as it crosses over into all aspects of the retail industry. The LP professional of today interacts with all operations in the retail organization, and having the education and industry knowledge will be key for these professionals to succeed within retail.