Getting under the skin of a retailer and understanding their culture and process when it comes to handling cash is key to the success of loss prevention experts Tellermate. The art of observation and spotting the chinks in a seemingly impenetrable armour is a long-developed skill, and demonstrates just how much the team understands what really goes on at the customers’ tills. Access to this expertise is vital to retailers truly committed to tackling staff fraud, so that they can effectively combine the latest electronic cash counting technology with the ‘people’ management systems that ensure nothing is left to chance and temptation is never an option for employees.
This holistic philosophy runs through the 30 year history of the Tellermate Group and has helped the company to build a customer base that covers more than 250,000 users in over 30 countries, between them counting over £1bn every day in more than 20 currencies. Based in Newport, South Wales, Tellermate Group works with retailers large and small and many worldwide organisations, among them Aldi, Apple, Barclays, Blockbuster, Boots, Burger King, Disney, H&M, HSBC and McDonald’s. Dave Lunn, Group Sales & Marketing Director at Tellermate, told The Grocery Trader how Tellermate is helping its customers face the intense pressures of the current tough economic climate to minimise loss prevention and the launch of its latest generation of cash management systems, the T-iX range.
GT – First of all, Dave, as Group Sales & Marketing Director, what does your day-to-day role involve?
I’m responsible for our global sales and marketing teams. We have direct sales teams across Europe and North America. In other territories we operate in partnership with a number of specialist distributors and agents.
GT – What is your background?
I have been involved in the security industry for about six years. First I was the Country Manager for GE Security and then became Managing Director of Cooper Security, before joining Tellermate in May 2009.
GT – Do you get personally involved in developing Tellermate’s new products, and working with customers to develop solutions?
Very much so, and it’s vital that I do as I have so much contact with customers. I like to visit customers with our sales teams and get involved in finding solutions that add real value to our clients’ needs. When talking with clients, we still find worrying instances of managers who use our machines to count money, but the rest of their cash handling remains undisciplined.
When I joined Tellermate last year, I visited a store in the US to set up a pilot installation. While training the customer to use our kit, the branch manager let slip that in the event of shortfalls at a till, he would make it up from his own pocket and adjust it a few days or weeks later, when the count was over rather than under! I also visited a coffee shop where the manager left cash all over the desk for several minutes during cash counting, with no other staff present. All these examples show how even with the best equipment available, the human element has to be factored into solutions, otherwise systems can’t be as effective as they should be.
GT – What can you do to help customers?
Key to our consultative approach is helping clients understand the strengths and weaknesses in their cash handling processes and find ways to improve them. We ask such questions as, is there an audit trail? Is a strict process adhered to? How long does the count take?
A well-managed audit should eliminate shrinkage during cash handing. The latest statistics show cash isn’t going away: if anything, the amount of money in circulation has increased. Retailers need efficient ways of counting cash and good audit trails to highlight process variances and exceptions. When staff know that there are stringent processes in place there is less likelihood of shrinkage through both miscount or theft.
Investment in our Tellermate solutions is justified by the improvements they give and the time they save counting cash. In addition, the data from the count becomes a deterrent to theft.
GT – What are the typical loss prevention problems that your retail customers face? Does it vary in different parts of the world?
Our goal in all countries is to reduce the opportunities for cash loss. There are differences in process and policy from country to country. One UK retailer viewed stock loss as their main loss prevention focus, and simply allowed a 5% shortfall on cash in their accounts. Other stores have a policy to make staff aware that they will fire people for discrepancies over a certain value.
The North America clientele are more inclined to use integrated solutions, with data from the Tellermate units going to the back office for analysis. In Europe clients tend to operate stand-alone devices, though this is starting to change.
GT – How do you sum up the Tellermate proposition?
Our approach is to offer more than purely world-class cash management hardware. We help customers see a return on their investment through using Tellermate equipment to speed up the cash counting and tighten up the audit process. The big difference with us is that our whole approach is very consultative. We spend time with our customers, looking at their audit processes and identifying the best products to give their staff more time in their day and reduce their cash loss to fraudsters.
GT – What does your consultancy work involve?
We work with the client to carry out a needs analysis and assess how they operate, and help them modify their processes accordingly. We don’t charge for consultancy: it’s crucial to finding the right solution.
GT – Do you have a checklist of indicators that show a company needs to improve its cash management processes?
There are so many areas clients should look at – are counts being done regularly? How long are they taking? Who does them? Are they logging who the till operators are? Different retailers have different processes: we help tighten things up.
GT – What factors do you see driving the development of loss prevention technology?
Many organisations’ IT departments want to keep cash and EPOS data separate, but using cash systems which integrate fully with EPOS and the back office and keeping the data in one place is the obvious way forward. At present less than 10% of retail systems are integrated to this level.
GT – Do you think loss prevention is a growing problem in retail? What do you think is driving it?
Yes, we do. The recession is still a big driver: low paid staff are easily tempted by a cash drawer full of notes. Our equipment both deters theft and tells managers where losses are happening in the store. With every cash transaction costing up to 10 pence it is vital that the retailer gets value for money. We are seeing a push for loyalty cards and contactless technology but many of our customers tell us that cash is still king for them and its use shows no signs of slowing down. Indeed, for many, it is growing. I went to the NFSSC in St Louis, which was attended by American’s biggest fast food and restaurant companies, who were there purely to focus on loss prevention and security. It helped to bring home to us just how many factors are relevant to this issue, not only in protecting the loss of employers but also addressing the responsibilities that companies have to protect their employees. Cash management solutions that protect against staff fraud can also have the effect of protecting employees against risk of attack from those intent on stealing. In the UK we have similar responsibilities enshrined in the Corporate Manslaughter Act and in legislation overseen by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
GT – You (Dave) presented a white paper on loss prevention at this year’s Retail Fraud show, addressing the question of employee theft in the retail environment. Can you recap on the white paper’s messages?
The main questions I posed were, can you trust your staff, and what can you do to deter staff theft and tighten the cash management process? Following the White Paper, five or six high street names have asked us to talk to them.
Tellermate is a sponsor of Retail Fraud ‘on the road’ in October in Leicester. Meetings such as this are invaluable in sharing and learning valuable knowledge and expertise with clients and potential customers as well as hearing first hand what their issues are.
GT – Where does Tellermate rank in the cash management system providers’ league table?
In our specific technology, weight-based cash counters, we believe we are number one, with the lion’s share of the European and North American markets.
GT – What are your best selling products?
Our core range of cash counters is the TY range, of which tens of thousands are in use around the world. Earlier this year we announced TY’s successor, the T-iX range. We pre-launched it at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Show in New York in January, and had an exceptional level of customer interest. We have confirmed orders in the UK, North America, Germany and Japan from retail and foodservice customers.
GT – Can you tell us about the products in the new T-iX range? What’s different about them?
The new T-iX range addresses the whole spectrum of our customers’ cash counting needs, using weight-based counting technology. There is a range of models to fit clients’ needs – the high end R4500 is Ethernet ready, R3500 and R3000 have USB connectivity, R2000 is printer-compatible and the R1000 is a standalone cash counting unit, ideal for smaller independent retailers.
In addition, the T-iX range is future-proof – all models, even the most basic R1000, can be upgraded via a USB memory stick to recognise new denomination weights. If the UK joins the Euro, for instance, the T-iX weight based cash counting units can be upgraded with new data in just a few seconds. The UK has various currency denominations in circulation. For example a £20 note from Bank of England will be a different weight than a £20 note from the Clydesdale bank, and different again from a note issued by the Ulster bank. In cross-border territories, Tellermate cash counters can be pre-programmed to count the various notes in circulation. But should one of these banks decide to reissue a new note design, the new note weight may easily be uploaded into the T-iX.
The new range takes advantage of the latest technology: people are used to mobile phones, and the T-iX has the same kind of intuitive user interface. If anything, it’s probably easier to use than a mobile! The new models have a large, high-resolution graphic display. They feature new battery technology, with batteries that only weigh a few grammes and last up to 16 hours without charging, so the units can easily be taken from the cash office to the front of house for multiple check out counts.
I found that clients using Tellermate products often become dependent on their new and improved cash processes. Despite Tellermate’s exceptional record of long service life and reliability, clients often ask for additional levels of service support. Beyond a two-year manufacturer’s warranty, we offer our clients additional services under the name of T-cover. This gives customers access to a professionally staffed helpline and, if needed, a replacement unit in just 24 hours.
GT – Do you publish case studies? Are there any ‘showcase’ stores where potential customers can see your products in operation?
We have a series of case studies from all sorts of companies including retail, forecourts and fast food: they’re generic because of confidentiality. We have full demonstration facilities in Newport and our overseas offices.
GT – Tellermate is clearly a great British success story. How will you sustain that in the future?
One of our great strengths is that we do everything at our headquarters in Newport, Wales. Others in our industry have moved production to China, but we’re reversing the trend. We made our previous products overseas and carried out final sub-assembly here, but the new T-iX is 100% UK-made. We’re very proud of our heritage and the various awards we have won, including the Queen’s Award for Export.
GT – Finally, where is Tellermate going from here?
In terms of products and marketing activity, the new T-iX products are available now, and we see them replacing the present TY range within the next two years. We’re supporting Retail Fraud 2011, building on this year’s success, and taking a top level of sponsorship to show our commitment to the UK Loss Prevention industry.
Tellermate is always looking to the future: the trick is to be able to see what’s around the corner.
Tel: 01633 637100