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Got The Right Tools?

05/2014

Good job! You've trained your employees to prevent tobacco sales to underage customers.

But you're not done yet.

In fact, you're at risk if your employees don't have the right tools or job aids, as professional trainers would say.

Yes, they need tools.

We call them "In-Store Support Materials," and they range from a sign in the window to a 365-day tear-off calendar or age-of purchase calendar.

under 27 sign

A retail store is a challenging work environment for front-line employees - especially when the customer lines grow longer. And having the right tools to keep things moving makes everyone's life easier and improves customer service.

We Card surveyed employees who had been cited for selling tobacco to an underage customer. NONE of them indicated that the offense occurred because they didn't know or weren't aware of the law. Instead, the top two factors for their failure were that the customer looked "old enough," and that they miscalculated the customer's age.

This illustrates two key points. First, it reinforces that an effective training program must go beyond building an employee's knowledge base, as awareness of the law doesn't necessarily translate to compliance. For instance, in-store signage can remind employees to think "younger than 27" as opposed to "old enough," when making the determination to ask for ID of customers.

Second, it reveals why it is vitally important to provide additional support to employees in the form of these job aids (tools). An age-of-purchase calendar can help employees quickly and accurately determine if a person can legally purchase tobacco. The act of keeping the calendar up-to-date by tearing off a page for the next day is another good reminder. A tip sheet on how to spot fake IDs can interrupt and prevent an underage purchase attempt.

These tools and resources - in addition to any state mandated signs - range from age-verification devices, window signage, posters, and point-of-sale materials like cash register wobblers. All these tools combined provide several lines of defense that strengthen a store's underage tobacco sales prevention efforts, starting at the store's entrance and ending with the employee's actions.

Windows and/or door decals can be placed at the front door, on the counter and behind the counter to help establish very clear expectations for both customers and employees by making the store's carding policy clear.

Signs, register wobblers and tear-off calendars further reinforce store policies and provide support to employees who should work steadily to ensure they follow policies and the law effectively.

And of course, employees can wear badges, pins, etc. These resources offer one more method to communicate to customers the store's carding policy while also serving to remind employees of the need to card and verify that a customer is of legal age to purchase tobacco or any other age-restricted product.

So as you think about your employee training, the tools and job aids that you provide, make no mistake; using a multi-layered approach including hands-on training is your best deterrent to prevent underage sales.

All the best,

Doug Anderson
President
The We Card Program, Inc.

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