Small business owners take on many operational roles. From banking and bookkeeping, to promotions and property management, business professionals do whatever it takes to keep their retail stores, restaurants, and offices on track. Among the many concerns shared by modern small business owners, keeping employees, customers, and inventory safe from harm is a top priority.
With property crimes on the rise, the stakes are higher than ever for club owners, restaurateurs, retail operators, and other neighborhood business stakeholders, each eager to promote safe, stable environments, wherein their businesses can thrive.
Although you may not be able to fully burglar-proof your business, there are many steps you can take to minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Preventing robberies, burglaries, and other workplace crime is a sure way to protect profits and promote safety and security in your business community.
Become a Local Resource
Many US commercial districts have lost ground, struggling to compete with chains, discount outlets, and, online sellers. In some cases, once-thriving Main Streets have vanished, leaving voids in US towns. If you’re helping turn things around, fortunate enough to participate in the resurgence of community commerce, forming partnerships with police and local officials can help protect you and your commercial neighbors.
In addition to making introductions with police, a proactive approach may include attending community meetings, serving on business safety and security committees, posting materials at your place of business, and taking on other tasks aimed at commercial safety and accountability.
If your region lacks resources, it may fall on you to form a local business owners group, meeting regularly to discuss safety, security, promotions, events, and other commercial concerns.
Don’t be an Easy Target
Robberies and burglaries are crimes of opportunity. That means prevention goes a long way, making your office, storefront, or restaurant a less attractive target. If you’re serious about safety and security at your place of business, start by giving criminals every possible reason to bypass your location.
- Position parking lots with views from the street
- Keep lots, entrances, and other common areas brightly lit
- Secure windows and doors, using electronic sensors when appropriate
- Install perimeter fencing to establish property boundaries
- Hire security staff
- Contract alarm service with a company familiar with local crime trends
If you haven’t recently explored security technology, you may be surprised by developments in the field. Security cameras have not only grown stealthy and adaptable, but business surveillance systems have also become more affordable than they once were, delivering small business safety and security at a price most operators can afford.
Modern surveillance cameras are smaller and lighter than the bulky models once used in commercial applications, and the new cameras render better images. Even at the lower end of the security camera price range, today’s affordable cameras, paired with digital recorders, produce striking image quality. And since connectivity has also advanced, you can now remotely monitor your business interior and exterior, using your mobile or tablet to check-up on locations from afar.
In addition to crimes perpetrated from the outside, small business owners must also watch out for schemes originating from within. If you’re lucky, you’ll never face insider crimes, but being prepared can help you limit losses and identify a bad employee, before the problem spreads throughout your organization.
- Vet prospective employees, including background and credit checks
- Take good care of trusted employees, eliminating their need to steal or change jobs
- Establish strict guidelines for removing goods and cash from your business
- Insure assets
- Mark valuables with your company name
- Maintain secure opening and closing procedures
- Monitor employees in sensitive, posted areas
Take Steps to Prevent Robberies
Unlike shoplifting and other property crimes, strong-arm robbery involves the use or threat of force. Because robberies potentially put your customers and employees at risk, your staff should be trained to cooperate with robbers, in the event your location is targeted.
According to the LAPD, adopting these preventative strategies can help you avoid problems.
- Make eye contact and greet everyone entering your place of business. This type of friendly contact can discourage crimes of opportunity.
- Place cash registers in well-lit areas of your store, restaurant, or office. Place them near the front of the space, whenever possible.
- Maintain clear lines of sight into your building, eliminating displays and decorations that could obstruct a crime in progress.
- Use a drop safe, keeping only enough cash on hand to make change.
- Without establishing a noticeable pattern, make banks deposits as often as necessary, to avoid holding large sums of cash.
- Share your hours of business and personal contact information with local police, as well as helpful details about your operation.
Don’t Dismiss Common Sense
No one knows your business as well as you do, so if something feels wrong, trust your instincts. Has that car lingered too long in the parking lot? Are you being watched? Is the new guy sending the wrong signals? These subtle signs and symptoms may be advanced clues, tipping-off a burglary or robbery in store for your business.
Common sense is a valuable crime fighting tool, but only if you put it to use. Before problems arise, view your operation through the eyes of a criminal, exposing potential soft spots in your commercial security. Pay special attention to:
- Fences and barriers
- Interior layout and visibility
- Storage security
- Cash drawer procedures
- Landscaping and exterior visibility
- Vehicle access
Despite your best efforts to keep your small business secure, enterprising criminals may have you in their sights. To avoid becoming a target, work with local police, install a security system, and use common sense prevention techniques to discourage break-ins, theft, and robberies.