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Armored Cars: 3 Key Problems Retail Treasurers Face

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 6/17/2016
MINNEAPOLIS -- Put a group of retail treasury professionals in a room together and they are sure to voice their frustrations with their armored carriers. Thursday at the 2016 AFP Retail Roundtable, attendees explained some of the problems they are having with the services they are currently using.

Lack of good options

Retailers who take cash (i.e. all of them) need to use armored car services. Unfortunately, there is a limited number of services available, and none of them appear to be particularly popular among retail treasurers.

“We have a choice of better pricing and really bad service or worse pricing and really bad service,” said a treasury manager for a sporting goods retailer.
Another retail treasurer added that it does not do any good to switch carriers. “We considered moving to another armored carrier, and our peers said, ‘Don’t do it.’ One is as bad as the other,” she said.

However, another retail treasurer countered that switching carriers may be the only leverage retailers have. “Sometimes, the only time I get great service is if I tell them, we’re going to start transitioning to another carrier,” she said. “So one may be just as bad as the other, but at least having that leverage allows it to get better temporarily.”

Route optimization

Another key issue retail treasurers are facing is route optimization. Armored carriers are making less frequent trips to areas they deem remote or rural, said the sporting goods treasury manager. “We’ve had route optimizations in ‘rural areas’ which are really major cities,” she said. “I didn’t know the Houston area was rural.”

Another treasurer expressed similar frustration. “Basically they’re going from a seven-day-a-week service to five days a week,” she said. “They don’t want to operate on the weekends because they’re having trouble keeping staff.”

Why are armored carriers having trouble keeping staff? A treasurer for a convenience store retailer explained that he met with his carrier and the company actually admitted that was paying its employees $3 under market. Employees were either resigning or simply didn’t care about being efficient. That particular carrier has since raised the wage of its employees, and things have improved, the treasurer said.

No show

Believe it or not, perhaps the biggest issues retailers face with armored carrier services is a failure to show up and collect the money. “We’ve had to actually pull out of a couple of armored carriers because they just weren’t picking up,” said one retail treasurer. “That’s been a real problem; I’d never had it happen until the last four or five months. Of course, we go back to the armored car company and we get credit, but it’s not about the money—it’s about stores’ safes getting full and security issues.”

She added that in these instances, it’s been very hard to reach the carriers and get an explanation for why their drivers didn’t show up. “We ended up getting out of our contact,” she said. “Of course, it was a breach of contract, but the deal was that they would pick up. But this was in some remote areas of Wisconsin and there are no other armored car companies out there.”

But this doesn’t just happen in remote areas, noted a treasurer for a big box retailer. “Our armored carrier missed pickups at 11 of our stores in a major metropolitan area, and we never got a notice,” he said.

The convenience store treasurer said that his company has experienced “hundreds” of missed pickups from his armored carrier. This can be a huge issue for the individual stores; safes fill up, and employees also have no way to get change for registers when they need it. “We’ve actually had to come up with a contingency plan just in case they don’t show up,” he said. “We’re working with our bank so that the stores have a place they can go to make deposits and make change if they need to.”
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