There are several basic steps every business owner can take to protect themselves and their operation from shoplifting, robbery, and internal theft.
Take an active, ongoing interest in everything that happens in your store, from the arrangement of merchandise and displays to the individual concerns of your customers and staff. Practical knowledge of day-to-day activities is useful in its own right, but it’s equally important that your customers and staff see you showing interest. Knowing that management pays attention discourages theft and reassures people that the store is a safe environment.
Conduct regular employee training in how to spot criminal activity and how to respond appropriately. Your employees are your first and best line of defense, but new employees come and go, and it’s only human nature to become complacent. Make security tips and training a routine part of your staff meetings. Keeping the store clean, organized, and presentable makes a good impression on customers, but it’s also easier to notice irregularities and disturbances that might be evidence of theft. Greeting customers at the door and approaching them inside the store to offer help is more than just a good, friendly business practice, it reinforces your overall security posture.
Physical security during business hours
A few simple preparations and precautions can help increase the security of your business. Installing a simple bell or more sophisticated electronic sensor on the main entrance alerts you when people enter the store, which can be important when you’re not in position to see. Make sure the aisles are uncluttered and well lit. Be careful to arrange merchandise so displays don’t obstruct sight lines, and keep more valuable items in view of the counter. A few strategically placed security mirrors can provide visibility into blind spots. These and other simple security measures are effective not just for detecting criminal behavior, but also for preventing it in the first place.
Physical security after hours
Shoplifting and petty theft occurs mainly during business hours, but your store is most vulnerable after closing, when no one is there to defend it. Strong locks and security doors are absolutely vital—especially on the office door, and on back and side entrances that are out of public view—and you should have them re-keyed at least annually. Employees come and go, and keys can be copied, lost, or stolen. Security alarms and video surveillance systems are essential components of a good security system, and posted notices advertising these capabilities can be effective deterrents. You should have a security safe for keeping valuables in the office—cash resources deposited in a smart safe are accurately counted, well protected, and fully insured.
Robberies often take place when businesses open in the morning or close in the evening. The first person to arrive and the last person to leave are the most vulnerable. These people should always be alert and cautious, and aware of their surroundings. Entrances and exits should be brightly lit and kept clear of any obstacles or obstructions that could conceal a thief or assailant. Visible security cameras outside your store discourage crime, and help the authorities apprehend lawbreakers.
Merchandise and other physical assets are immediate and obvious security concerns, but don’t overlook the importance of your digital assets, such as potentially sensitive business data or confidential customer information. Update your software regularly to eliminate known security flaws and choose a point of sale system that authenticates user identities and encrypts customer credit card information. Make sure your business data is backed up on the cloud or to an off-site data center, so you don’t risk losing important information to a fire or natural disaster.
No employer wants to suspect their employees or co-workers of criminal tendencies, but you need to be realistic: Sooner or later, you’re likely to have an untrustworthy person on your team. You can minimize the risks ofinternal theft with a few simple precautions. Be sure to confirm qualifications and references before hiring a new employee—false claims on job applications often go undiscovered simply because no one bothered to check. Assign senior employees to train and supervise new hires, and listen to their opinions and concerns. Anyone can make a mistake but watch for patterns of carelessness or suspicious behavior. Point-of-sale software and video surveillance help deter theft by keeping staff accountable, as do smart safes and automated cash handling. Remember that employees who feel valued, productive, and fairly treated are less likely to steal. Building trust and good relationships with your staff enhances the security of your business.
Think of the new year as an opportunity to step back and take an objective, critical look at the overall security posture of your business. SafePoint® by Loomis can be the cornerstone of a strong security foundation. First and foremost, it’s a comprehensive cash management solution, from the Titan smart safe in your store, to state-of-the-art processing and secure cash-in-transit service, to dedicated support and real-time reporting with Loomis Direct. With your cash, employees, and customers secure, you can focus on other aspects of your core business and make 2019 your most productive year yet.