Spruce® LBM Software Helps Track Down Employee Theft Quickly and Efficiently
In Parksville, British Columbia, Brandon Ford and the rest of the team at Albertsons Home Center have been happy users of Spruce lumber and building materials software to run the business since 2015.
“If you’re in the building supply business, Spruce makes it easy to take care of ordering, receiving, and getting customers through the checkout smoothly,” says Ford. “And because it’s Windows-based, our new hires can be up and running with Spruce on their own after just a few hours.”
In addition, Ford says Spruce has also brought new levels of efficiency, timeliness, and accuracy to the company’s inventory management and invoicing, while its flawless purchasing interface with Orgill helps that side of the business run smoothly too.
Recently though, Spruce played a different, but no less important role for Ford, as he found himself facing a major case of fraud by an Albertson employee.
An inventory discrepancy signals a potential crime
“It all started when a customer wanted a circular saw and while our computer said we had one, it turned out we were out of stock,” he recalls. According to the computer, the saw had been returned—hence the inventory count of one—but an extensive search revealed there was actually no product.
“We looked at the sale detail and saw that while it had been purchased through an account, the return was made to a debit card and that immediately raised a red flag,” Ford explains.
But while eyeballing return details on one transaction might have signaled the presence of a potential problem, going any further using the same approach would be a daunting task. By Ford’s estimate, Albertson’s takes about 250 returns a month and that would inevitably make any kind of manual review a tedious, time-consuming process.
“I started looking through the details of receipts that were done to a return to see if there was a trend in card numbers. Five hours later, I had identified about $3,000 in returns that had been made to two different card numbers by the same employee,” Ford recalls.
Clearly, something was going on, but determining the full scope of the problem would be challenging, to say the least. Fortunately, the folks at Spruce came up with a solution that was both easy to implement and quick to generate results.
Spruce developer uses the versatile lumber software to reveal a shocking culprit
Ford called Wendy Hitchcock, a veteran Spruce developer responsible for Graphical Analytics tool, and told her what he needed: a report that would filter returns by return type (to a credit or debit card), by the last four digits of the card used, and by employee ID.
A few hours later, the dashboard was ready and after just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, Ford learned the full extent of the problem. Over a six-month period, a single employee had defrauded Albertson’s out of more than $10,000 in non-existent returns!
Albertsons now uses Spruce reporting to prevent future theft and fraud
Armed with the information from Spruce, Ford was able to reach out to Albertson’s insurance company and recover the money lost through its internal employee theft policy. He was also able to track down details of the bank account where the fraudulent money was deposited, enabling his local police to initiate legal action.
Having seen the full scope of the problem, thanks to Spruce software, Ford put new procedures and safeguards in place to prevent similar fraud and employee theft events in the future. “We now run our returns report on a regular basis so that we can catch any emerging patterns that might indicate a potential problem,” Ford explains. This is a process that would consume too many hours of valuable employee time, making it impossible without Spruce’s data analytics and reporting capabilities.
ECi Software Solutions goes above and beyond in customer service
“Without Spruce and the responsiveness and professionalism of the Spruce team, we would never have been able to address our fraud problem so quickly or effectively,” Ford says. “Wendy Hitchcock and the rest of the Spruce organization recognized the importance of this situation for us. They made it a top priority so that we could quickly pin down the full dollar value of our losses and get an accurate report to our insurance company and the police.”
The good news for Ford and his team is that the security of their company’s cash flow is now in far better shape than it used to be, thanks to Spruce. The whole experience has taught him a lesson that, he contends, applies just as well to any building supplies company.
“Don’t ever assume anything about the security of your business,” he warns. “Our problem came from a trusted employee who had been with us for five years and who was operating literally right under our noses,” he says. “Thanks to Spruce, we were able to identify exactly what was going on and take corrective action. Make sure you have the tools you need to help you identify potential fraud situations and make using them part of your regular routine. If you don’t, you’re putting the long-term health of your company at serious risk.”
To learn more about how Albertson’s uses Spruce to run their business, read their previous case study.