How Do Age Stings Beat Technology?

image of sign warning about under age sales of restricted items

With all the money spent on cameras and back office tracking, it is no wonder c-store operators frustratingly ask ‘How do age stings beat technology’? Surprisingly, technology to capture images and highlight risks does not ensure that age stings are addressed. The stings are not based on store activity but rather investigations of under-age activity that provide pinpoint precision on where purchase are made. Naturally, focused stakeouts bypass store technology. Officers know who are making illegal sales to minors.

The Cost of Age Stings to C-Stores

  • Fines from $500 to 40,000 each
  • $3500 staff re-hiring costs (lost time, overtime, training)
  • Loss of reputation  – 1 Customer =$1,000+/year
  • Jail time for staff

Management Priorities to Stop Sales to Minors

High growth operators address age compliance, cashier shrink, inventory management and labor as key control items. Maintaining control over these items helps control costs and keep profits growing.Image of cashier performing age verification

  • Identify Cashiers with Risky Verifications
  • Document the Process for Regulators
  • Track Verification Methods Used
  • Find Suspicious Transactions
  • Coach Cashier Behaviors
  • Execute Smart Orders
  • Allocate Labor Effectively

Identifying the Risks for Age Stings in C-Stores

It is not a matter of capturing the data. Rather, it is a matter of seeing it with all the noise and manager duties. The key is showing those items that need attention. This means highlighting the most serious offenses and knowing which stores have the highest risks. Choosing the right information and presenting it in a short and simple manner magnifies the data and provides the clarity that can be understood.

Having specific information that shows exactly which cashiers are doing which types of short cuts or incorrect procedures pinpoints an issue so that it can be addressed by the store manager. Regular data shows the trends to alert supervisors when store managers need their attention and follow up. That is, seeing which things are the worst. Knowing exactly how much a situation varies from the normal provides an objective assessment. Providing specific examples establishes a method of direct corrective action.

Addressing Cashiers Most at Risk of Age Stings

Once the problem is found, a store manager has the specific transactions, with video and data to explain the problem. Of course, teaching the managers and following up encourages both the managers and the cashiers to attend the to critical job (and legally required) of ensure only ‘of-age’ customers purchase restricted items.

Doing a good job, does not require 100% compliance, but provides guidelines and support for appropriate verification. Providing clear guidance and consistent follow-up establishes a process that not only reduces risks, but also mitigates the damage in the event that a sting still happens. No one expects perfection, but localities expect good management practice and oversight. Using a scheduled format to see the trends and know when both positive and negative changes happen, allow for immediate action. Quick small actions are possible without overloading busy leaders.

Learn more about controlling under-age sales