EXCLUSIVE: Delivery of security with extra loss prevention

Nicole McDargh - VP of Safety and Loss Prevention, Domino's

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Security Journal Americas catches up with Nicole McDargh, CPP Vice President of Safety and Loss Prevention at restaurant chain Domino’s.

Joining the team

“My role at Domino’s is new, so I get to really shape what it means,” McDargh began. “Overall, though, I’m responsible for the safety and security of our people and places.”

McDargh noted that her responsibilities stretch to wherever the company owns a store, supply chain center or corporate headquarters – essentially encompassing all locations.

Her goal is to provide the best practices and policies for these places, including for loss prevention.

McDargh has had an accomplished career within security and loss prevention, having joined the industry at the very start of her professional life.

Her first role with a company in Los Angeles began with the intention of providing security services to high-profile celebrities but evolved to working with military and government agencies.

“I had the good fortune of starting my career learning from what are probably the best security consultants in the industry, gaining experience from some fairly high-risk security engagements,” McDargh revealed.

After seven years in that role, she moved on to other similar agencies before approaching different parts of the industry.

Eventually, she joined Securitas where she started as Project Manager and then moved on to Management Trainee and after that was promoted to Vice President within four years.

After Securitas, McDargh joined Richemont to work in Mexico as a Security Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

After another two years, McDargh got a promotion and moved to Geneva, leading the physical security and HSE for countries in Europe, CIS, Latin America and the Caribbean.

“I didn’t think I would leave, but then Domino’s called,” McDargh said.

“The first conversation with a recruiter was very coy, they didn’t disclose who the company was, instead they asked: what do you think of Michigan? I said, I don’t think of Michigan but thanks for calling.”

However, once she learned that it was Domino’s and started having some conversations in earnest, the company had some very interesting things to say and McDargh commented that she was drawn to designing something that didn’t yet exist.

“COVID was a big wake up call for most companies, so Domino’s wanted to move from having a focus on loss prevention to an enterprise-wide security management program,” she said.

“The question was – what does that look like and how do we grow into that?”

McDargh has now been in her role for two years and has spent a good portion of that time restructuring the organization to create a corporate security program and a separate safety program.

The vision

“The aim is for our people to feel safer. To do that, we have put together processes and sometimes equipment, bolstered by good strategies, training and communications, that prepare them for dealing with the negative things that happen daily,” McDargh said.

She noted that while these events can’t be stopped, teams and individuals can be prepared for their eventuality to mitigate harm or damage.

Some of these tactics include creating an environment that isn’t conducive to violent or aggressive behavior, which involves recognizing that both safety and security are intrinsic to everyone’s actions.

“It’s not just about what the security department does, but the actions individuals take in the store, supply chain center or corporate headquarters,” McDargh said.

However, more traditional forms of security and loss prevention are also employed by Domino’s, such as access control and camera system solutions.

McDargh remarked that she is working to make these aspects are part of a centralized platform that can be used not just for investigative purposes, but for proactive reasons.

“We’d like to get down to one platform for the stores and one platform for the supply chain centers,” she noted.

“It’s still a work in progress, but we are making the migration and we’ve selected a platform that makes reviewing actions for investigative purposes very easy.”

Not only can this help to solve loss prevention issues and reveal key details about skrinkage, but also work as an intuitive platform with operational benefits, McDargh highlighted.

These systems can provide the team with data that reveals actionable insights. This can help with safety, for example, as a remote safety team member can look through the cameras to ensure that back doors aren’t blocked and conduct health and wellness checks.

However, surveillance programs require regular care and attention and despite their common use, McDargh noted a widespread critical issue with the use of camera surveillance.

“Sometimes a camera gets installed, but the installation happened five years before some building improvements or remodels.

“In the meantime, somebody has built a wall, placed a new rack in front of the camera or moved an oven in our case – but nobody moved the camera.

“Suddenly, everything is in the space differently – apart from the camera which is still pointing in the same direction as it was when it was first designed.”

Therefore, a key project McDargh has completed is to ensure that the surveillance cameras Domino’s uses are in the correct places and positioned in the best way possible to enhance security and loss prevention.

Key considerations

“There is a lot of willingness, interest and support from team members for these projects, although there are still a lot of economic factors to think about,” McDargh commented.

Nonetheless, this challenge can be overcome by proving the value of investment over economic risk.

Another limitation McDargh highlighted is that while equipment and processes can be implemented quickly, it typically takes longer to train and motivate people to adopt the safety mindset.

“Trying to get people’s attention to focus on safety or security is notoriously difficult – for example we need to build in the reflex for employees sweep up after themselves to prevent a slip or to focus on deescalating a situation if an angry person comes in a store,” McDargh said.

Her strategy to tackle this is what she dubs a “drip method” for teaching. For this, McDargh makes changes or implements new processes a little bit at a time and over a sustained period of time, to eventually make a long-lasting impression.

Another tactic is to present updates in a concise way – in short, ‘TikTok’ style informative trainings, rather than long, unengaging talks.

The last challenge that McDargh spoke about was a personal one – to understand that change will not be immediate: “The challenge is more to my own desire to propel instant and radical change, but things take more time than that.”

An evolving role

Five years down the road, McDargh sees the company being even further along in its progression to enhance security and loss prevention.

“We’re currently at an early stage of maturity in our commitment to a broader enterprise security risk management model and wider safety culture, so even though the path will continue to be steep, we will get there,” she said.

“Some of the challenges are predictable and some of them change as we go along.”

Further down the line, McDargh sees herself initiating even more programs: “The beauty of creating something new is that we get to explore this big field of opportunities.

“There are five or six programs that I would love to be able to launch, but I’m not going to be able to do that now. It’s not practical. That’s for two years down the road.”

Loss prevention

Thinking more broadly, McDargh commented that there are many things the industry can do enhance loss prevention.

“There are a lot of things we need to do better,” she said. “First, we need to train our people to think about the bigger picture.

“The security industry is so focused on providing expertise at a technical level, but we do not think about the wider scope.

“These experts can design a perfect camera system and it will work amazingly, but it won’t capture any interesting data because they have no idea how the operation works as a whole… I think we need to get much better at understanding the interactivity of how our processes and programs affect the operation.”

Additionally, McDargh said that the industry needs to be better at speaking the language of business.

“We have too many people who speak like automatons and they don’t get a seat at the table because they are boring or terrifying or both, so they scare their stakeholders…

“To overcome this, we need to start talking about value. When you’re talking with HR you’re talking about people, when you’re talking to finance you’re talking about money, when you’re talking to the CEO you’re talking about the brand,” she said.

Another way to improve relations is to present a range of options to stakeholders – so that they have skin in the game.

“We have to get better at articulating. A camera with 650,000 megapixels can see to the moon. You might care about that, but nobody else does,” McDargh said.

“If you say to the CEO that your team did 98 investigations this week, they’ll say congratulations, you’re doing your job.

“However, if tell them that you reduced shrink by $250,000 because you provided a number of training engagement sessions that employees really liked, you got a customer satisfaction survey that said people feel safe when they enter the store and you saved money because you’re doing the right thing, that’s much more interesting.”

This also helps to demonstrate the value of security and safety teams, McDargh said: “we are so necessary and if you can present your case in a way that people will appreciate it, they will.”

This article was originally published in the August edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

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