RILA Conference: Was it Worth Attending?
May 3, 2018:
By David George, Managing Partner - Calibration Group, LLC
The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) provides the first of several conferences each year dedicated to bringing us all together to share ideas that consistently prove their value in helping to improve the protection of employees, customers, and retail brands, as well as enhance company profits.
The retail Loss Prevention/Asset Protection (LP/AP) industry’s conference season was officially kicked off this week by RILA as industry leaders and practitioners converged on the city of Orlando to network and collaborate with their peers, and to learn about new solutions designed to help retailers reduce inventory shortage and improve customer and employee safety.
Was it worth attending? Should LP/AP professionals be spending their valuable time and resources traveling not just to the RILA conference, but to any of our industry-specific conferences?
There’s only one way to find the answers to these questions. As I walked through the convention center at the beautiful Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, I quickly became engaged in conversations with current and former colleagues entrenched in the age-old battle of profit & people protection. From these conversations, I will list the most interesting responses I received when asking attendees the questions listed above:
“The common answer is probably having the ability to see new technology. But for me, attending conferences is the best way to ask colleagues from all retail disciplines how they are solving the same issues I have at my organization. Nothing is more beneficial than that. I find this to be the best way to learn from their mistakes, and for them to learn from mine.” – Director of Asset Protection, grocery industry.
“Attending conferences is the only way to stay relevant. I know a VP of Asset Protection that never attends conferences, and to be honest, it shows in his program. His shrink numbers are quite possibly the highest in his retail vertical, yet he still thinks sitting in his office and calling people to ask for advice is his best option. I have been coming to the RILA Conference since the beginning of my career and I can honestly say there has never been a single time in which I left a conference without a comprehensive ‘to-do’ list. Attending this conference is probably the single-most important contributor to my success.” – Vice President of Asset Protection, apparel industry.
“I was hired into an organization that never had an LP presence prior to my arrival, so I had to start from scratch. This is my third year attending this conference and for me, I can honestly say that every program or initiative I have implemented for my company was born here. Some ideas and initiatives were picked up through conversations with peers, but most were found in the exhibit hall. Where else can you go to openly share your challenges with like-minded and highly experienced people to collaborate on the solutions? In my opinion, there’s no greater ROI.”
– Vice President of Asset Protection, sporting goods industry.
I must say that having these conversations reminded me of the wonderful opportunities trade organizations provide for all of us in this profession. The truth is that at times, we take it all for granted. Once again, RILA, along with the LP/AP professionals who serve on their comprehensive planning committees, have done a good job of bringing us all together for one, unified purpose: to help bring resolution to the problems we face in the world of retail.
For those LP/AP professionals in the restaurant industry, consider attending the Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association’s (RLPSA) 39th annual conference, August 5 – 8, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. This RLPSA event is the only conference specifically dedicated to restaurants and food service organizations.
David E. George, CFE, CFI, is managing partner of Calibration Group, LLC. Previously, David served as vice president over Asset Protection for Dollar General Stores, a Fortune 100 company with more than 13,000 stores in 44 states. While serving Dollar General, David was responsible for the Asset Protection field team, the Asset Protection corporate team, the Shrink Improvement team, and the Shrink Analytics team. David also worked in tandem with Dollar General’s Inventory Management team to improve stock-on-hand while simultaneously reducing stockroom inventory.
Prior to Dollar General, David held the vice president of Asset Protection position with Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Matthews, NC. He served Harris Teeter for more than 14 years and has had previous loss prevention leadership roles with Kmart Supercenters.
For more information about Calibration Group, visit www.calibrationgroup.com.