We look forward to the restful nature of Thanksgiving weekend all year, unless you are amongst of the throngs of consumers who venture out on Black Friday to get those deeply discounted available deals.
When there is a website dedicated to accidents and injuries on one day a year, risk management professionals know they need to be prepared. According the BlackFridayDeathCount.com, there have been 111 injuries and 10 fatalities related to Black Friday shopping since statistical tracking began in 2006.
Partners Prepare for the Risk:
Because of shopper anxiety, and the hazards associated with the environment surrounding those deep discounts, there is a notable increase in claims activity.
Julianne Camacho, Account Principal, works closely with one of her clients to ensure that our claims team is fully prepared for when the claims come in the door, and that we are aware of the changes they make in staffing to prepare for seasonal claims.
According to FoundationDigital.com, 84% of accidents affect customers. To be effective and prepared for the claims spike, the liability claims team completes a full staffing assessment, supported by historical claims data regarding reported seasonal claims.
16% of the accidents are reported by employees trying to manage the spike in shopper activity in a tight time window.
Communication amongst the workers compensation stakeholders is a key component to the continued success of the partnership.
“We have a pre-peak conference call, inclusive of our claims team and case management partners. We make sure that everyone knows what our client has done to increase their staffing to prepare for the season. We see a blended method of staffing, where some of the claims risk would transfer to a staffing organization. It is important for our team is prepared to ask the right questions during the investigation to ensure the claims are properly handled.”
It is all hands on deck, both at the retail partner’s operations, and in claims. Because of extended shopping hours, and very little down time for management at the stores or distribution centers, some clients carve out specific time periods when store personnel are able to take calls and provide details which are crucial to the claims investigation process. The claims team adjusts hours and utilizes flexible schedules to increase availability for clients who have these processes in place. “We also initiated a reporting process for our partners that allow them to focus on the immediate needs of the customer, while still reporting the claim timely. They can even take photos of the accident scene and send them to us on the spot.”
Immediately after the season ends, debrief of stakeholders is in order. To ensure effective loss control for subsequent years, a review of the data in a formal meeting is beneficial for future seasons’ preparedness. “Stewardship results and seasonal numbers are a constant focus,” says Camacho.
With SMART Benchmarking, we are able to identify claims that have historically escalated or driven costs and handle them in a way to mitigate the loss effectively.
Managing Retail Risk:
According to Foundation Digital,
Parking Lot Control
- Review the lighting conditions in your parking lot to help ensure customer safety. Criminals view Black Friday as an opportunity, so remind your clients to make sure their parking lot doesn’t have any potentially unsafe dark areas.
- Have staff on traffic patrol in the parking lot to help customers enter and leave the lot safely, or if need be, turn away customers if the lot is full.
- Install rope lines or barricades for customers waiting for the store to open
- Avoid starting lines right at the store entrance.
- Post signs that clearly outline expectations while in line and entering the store.
- Ensure that emergency exits remain clear at all times.
- Hire private security to help maintain order.
- Review emergency procedures with team members who will be working that day. Knowing what to do can avoid confusion if an incident occurs.
- Stagger so-called ‘door-buster deals’ to help reduce the risk of everyone showing up at once.
- Keep a sharp eye on how many customers and don’t exceed occupancy limits.
- Plan for adverse weather and have staff ready to mop floors, clear snow, change mats and put out signage for wet floors.
Managing Your Personal Risk:
If you plan brave the crowds, follow these tips to stay safe:
- Be well rested and aware of your surroundings
- Drive defensively in the parking lot.
- Avoid parking lots that are not well-lit or seem chaotic or risky
- Lock your car doors and clear all purchases from the inside of the vehicle.
- Avoid the front of the line
- Shop with a friend who can pull you out of an uncontrolled situation
- Disengage from tense or combative situations. Seek out a store employee for assistance.
Remember, if the area seems unnecessarily risky, there is always Cyber Monday.
Kristy Sands has over 20 years of industry experience. You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Julianne Camacho has over 25 years of industry experience. You can find her on LinkedIn.