There are so many factors that can negatively affect your retail business. Fluctuations in customer perception, shortages from suppliers, increasing international shipping costs, availability of loans, and the spending habits of your target market are all things that can have an impact on your bottom line. A lot of these things are out of your control. Small retail business owners, like boutique owners, can really feel the pinch when the economy takes a dive. The last thing you should have to worry about is loss due to theft.

Theft is often reported as the number one concern of boutique owners. You’ve put a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears into starting up your business and you just want to make sure that someone is not trying to take it away from you. Theft can hurt small businesses so quickly. It’s important to try and prevent theft from happening. It is almost always easier to prevent theft than it is to regain your footing after a major loss.

Internal theft is the biggest source of loss for retail businesses. Employee theft accounts for three times the amount of loss businesses incur from shoplifters. Employees that learn your business’s weaknesses are the most inclined to steal. Even if they have never shoplifted a thing, there will be a time when they are tempted to take something from work. The reasons for employees deciding to steal could include the security of knowing that they won’t get caught, frustration with low pay, dissatisfaction with job policies, or just about any other reason. It can be hard to resist when there is plenty of opportunity facing them every day.

There are a few ways to prevent internal theft from happening. Surprisingly, the first thing you should do is treat your employees with respect. Ever heard the saying, “Treat others as you wish to be treated”? Employees that respect their employers are far less likely to steal from them, especially if they know that the employee is personally vested in the business.

Monitor sales in a way that rewards employees for good inventory counts. Have one person per shift in charge of display cases that lock. Have the case inventoried at the end of each shift to make an employee feel personally responsible for high dollar items. Do the same sort of checks with the register.

Investing in a security system will let your employees know that they shouldn’t attempt anything. If you’ve done your reference checks and don’t hire anyone without exemplary recommendations, then it’s likely that you’re dealing with good people who do not want to get into trouble.

Arranging your store in a way that makes theft more difficult is also a good practice. If you cram your clothes on a basic clothing rack, then it’s easy for employees to slip something off the rack without it being noticed. Opt for clothing racks that have spacers and display clothing in a more orderly fashion so that it will be obvious if something is missing. Keep your clothing racks fully stocked so that it is easy to do a quick inventory at any time.

About the Author: John Garvey is on the staff of Only Garment Racks, a leading online source of clothing racks including garment racks. Find a high quality clothing rack or garment rack at