From The Editor | August 7, 2014

RLPSA 2014: Best Practices In Safety, Brand Protection, And Social Media Monitoring


By Erin Harris, Editor-In-Chief, Cell & Gene
Follow Me On Twitter @ErinHarris_1

Erin Harris HLO

I recently attended the 35th Annual RLPSA Conference held from August 3-6 at Orlando, FL’s Caribe Royale resort, where loss prevention professionals from the restaurant industry were delivered powerful, actionable information on everything from safety and security to brand protection to social media. In case you missed it, here are some of the top take-aways from the event.

Safety Is Paramount

Several industry luminaries delivered evidence-based talks about everything from promoting your personal brand to social media security to best practices in skimming prevention. But, inevitably, all speakers had a common theme — the vital importance of safety.  Tuesday’s keynote speaker, Steven Miller, security business integration at Walt Disney Company, delivered a powerful speech on how the company protects its 50 million guests and 70,000 cast members (i.e. employees). “We must balance good security in an open environment,” explains Miller. He went on to explain that guests and cast members attend Disney for good-natured fun and a pleasant experience, not to walk through full-body scans and metal detectors. As such, the company has gone to exceptional lengths to ensure the safety and security of its guests and employees in various other ways. “For us, it’s not about asset protection, it’s about the safety and security of our guests and cast members.”

Brand Protection Vital To Thrive In Today’s Marketplace

I caught up with several industry executives and solutions providers who spoke at length about the importance of brand protection in today’s ultra-competitive market. Jim Forlenza, executive director at RLPSA, listed brand protection as one of the event’s top themes (he listed safety as the other top theme and listed social media monitoring as a sub-theme). In today’s day and age, it takes a village to protect your brand, and that village includes a sound leadership team, labor relations, crisis response, interdepartmental collaboration, technology, and sound safety and compliance measures.

Not only was enterprise brand protection covered, but also an entire session was dedicated to the importance of personal brand. Indeed, Sandra Tillett, senior VP of stores, operations, and loss prevention at Lane Bryant; Jesus Alvarez, head of loss prevention at Forever 21; and Arlene Estrada Petokas, director of HR at CKE Restaurants gave an enlightening presentation about helping you and your employees identify and promote personal brand (i.e. who you are, what you do, and the unique way you do it). During their presentation, they noted that many senior-level executives only know employees based on what they’ve heard. Identifying, maintaining, and living up to your brand is a good way to positively affect the entire organization and provide senior-level executives the data they need to make promotional and other role-specific decisions.

The Importance Of Social Media Monitoring

In a world of constant connection, social media monitoring has become critical to protecting your brand, your employees and customers, and your profits. Cynthia Hetherington, president at the Hetherington Group, gave an actionable presentation that served as a wake-up call to attendees. She explained the various and jarring ways problem employees can share competitive intelligence and promote workplace violence. Hetherington informed the audience of some free tools to help monitor and assess Internet and social media risk, including and

Technology Is A Key Component To All Of The Above

One walk through the Exhibitors Hall is all you needed to understand how technology can assist in brand protection as well as safety and security. Next-gen technologies, including cash management, armored car transportation, surveillance, serialized keys, locks, POS integration, auditing software, smart safes, and more are available today to help restaurant executives improve safety, the customer experience, and the bottom line.

Did you attend this year’s RLPSA event? What did you learn? Please share your thoughts with me at