Lane Accountability – Enhancing Efficiency and Customer Service

Olufemi Olowu
Implementation Advisor

Profitability in a retail environment is based on making and keeping every penny possible. The adage that “Retail is a penny business” is true. Every cent counts. So, when looking at the processes that affect profits, Cash Handling is a definite area of focus. Companies need to concentrate on minimizing loss of profits due to the mishandling of money, as well as the processes used to account for it. So, how do they do this? It goes without saying that training employees in cash handling skills is an imperative in making this objective. There also has be a system of accountability, so that issues and/or concerns can be addressed to mitigate any losses. There are two main processes that are used in the industry today: Lane Accountability and Cashier Accountability.

Cashier Accountability is a process in which money is tracked at the cashier level, or in other words, one person on a till/cash drawer at a time.

Lane Accountability is a process in which money is tracked on the lane, or say another way, several people can be on a till/cash drawer in a particular lane.

When comparing both systems, one could initially be under the impression that Cashier Accountability would be the preferred method in which to keep a handle on cash. One person per till should be a definitive way to make sure that any issues are taken care of quickly. However, when comparing the two, one must take several things into account. Hours and cost to investigate, flexibility in scheduling, and the effect on customer service are items that must be considered. Lane Accountability, when executed correctly, has a positive affect in each of these areas and should be the preferred method used.

One of the benefits of Lane Accountability is its reduction of the number of tills that need to be counted and/or built. The benefits derived from this, when extrapolated through an organization, in labor savings and reduction of cash carry-over, will offset any potential increase in overs/shorts. Also, if your company has the right tracking system in place, you can determine, based on how a particular cashier trends when on several tills, whether or not there is an issue. If your system detects a pattern of variances whenever a particular cashier is on a till, you can then put them on cashier accountability, unknown to them, to determine whether or not an issue does exist, then take care of said issue as your company dictates. When you look at the monetary and hourly benefits that can be attained due to the use of this system, you can easily see how beneficial it can be to any organization.

Another benefit to using this system is the flexibility it gives the Front-End Department both in scheduling and general operations. Task-based scheduling is a scheduling system that optimizes the placement of labor tasks within scheduled shifts to maximize productivity while providing great customer service. Lane Accountability is a system that will help optimize this scheduling system for any Front-End, based off the fact that you can easily move associates, based off the tasks assigned, in and out of different register lanes (i.e., regular and/or express).

In other words, you can have an employee scheduled during different parts of their day, in either regular cashier and/or express cashier, without the need to count/replace tills, thereby creating a smooth transition when it is necessary to move an associate from one lane to another. This same reduction in the need to handle tills helps Front-Ends to react quickly to sudden increases in business, more commonly referred to as rushes that occur sporadically during any given day.

Customer service is enhanced when using Lane Accountability. With Cashier Accountability, whenever there is a shift change there is an interruption in business flow and thru-put due to the need of having to wait for a new till to be created, counting in and, in a lot of cases, a lane being shut down while this process is taking place. This generally increases the queuing, which reflects negatively on customer service. With Lane Accountability, and efficient planning, the need to perform these operations is significantly decreased and helps optimize the shift change process thereby ensuring a more pleasant shopping experience for customers. The cashier replacing the leaving employee just goes in and starts their day with very minimal interruption to the customer experience.

So, as discussed above, Lane Accountability and its proper execution is another excellent tool to enhance efficiency, customer service and promote labor savings. Any process that can do all of these things and bring more money to the bottom line is a process worth having. It would behoove any company that is not already taking advantage of this to take a hard look at the benefits that can be achieved.