It’s not always the guns blazing scenario that we see on crime shows or the six-o’clock news, but robberies and burglaries are indeed a traumatic and emotional experience for any small-business owner or employee.
For many business owners who have been robbed hindsight is 20/20, and if they had the opportunity to prepare for the worst they would do so differently. Jeff Kear’s company, Planning Pod, a small computer software company, was burglarized a few years ago. He was lucky. Only two computers, a few monitors and some personal items were taken. Kear believes the thieves would have wiped out his inventory, but something scared them off, and they left several more computers and the company’s server at the door. He admits, “We were not prepared. We didn’t even have an alarm system.”
Kear learned the hard way that he needed to better secure his business in order to prevent and deter thieves. Kear provided some of these tips, in order for other business owners to learn from his mistakes.
Stay vigilant and mindful of your surroundings. Robert Sollars, owner of Today’s Training, LLC, a security consulting company, says it's important to pay close attention your surroundings so you can spot the signs of potential threats. He says to be on the lookout for any person who is stockpiling items near an exit door, as this may indicate a potential heist.
He also suggests paying close attention to customers with baby carriages, large purses and baggy clothes. It’s not to say that all new mothers are would-be robbers, but some criminals use such items to conceal merchandise.
Adapt security for rental businesses. BagTropolis, which rents designer handbags to women for a fraction of their retail cost, has increased their refundable security deposit to help deter criminals from not returning the item. Owner Bob Herman said it’s an unfortunate reality, but he’s seen several high-end handbags go “missing” and their renters were never heard from again.
Invest in high-tech permanent solutions. Anais Moody, marketing and communications specialist for NorthStar Alarm, a security company specializing in securing businesses and homes, says the number one theft deterrent is the installation of a security system or a surveillance camera. She says that many small businesses have shied away from such systems due to the cost. But, today, Moody says, the average price of a camera with recording capabilities has dropped by as much as 50 percent over the past decade, making them much more affordable for even the smallest of businesses.
She explained that the key difference between the security system and a stand-alone camera is that security systems will notify the police, the alarm company and can even remotely signal the business owner through smartphone or computer applications if there is a problem. Cameras will simply record the events as they unfold, providing compelling evidence for the police.
Additionally, Moody said automated theft deterrent systems now have the technology to allow business owners to turn on and off lights, potentially scaring off a would-be robber. Business owners can also receive notifications when doors are opened after hours. This is especially useful when there are suspicions surrounding employees. In this case, each employee receives a unique code to unlock the door. If the door is unlocked after hours using their code, the employee will have to answer to the business owner or the police.
It’s also important to let the public know that you have installed security measures. Visual representation of the system, whether it is through a window sticker or seeing the actual cameras, is also a proven strategy many security specialists recommend.
Use an off-site or cloud-based storage of electronic files. Instead of storing files on-site (where computers and servers are vulnerable to theft, flood, etc.), store files in the cloud with an online storage service.
Lock down all computer equipment. Any computer equipment that stays in the office should be cabled and locked to desks so that they cannot be easily removed by thieves.
Purchase business insurance. If you have expensive equipment on premise, make sure you have an insurance policy that protects against theft and damage.
These tactics are not fool proof. But, they may help you if your business is ever attacked.
Have you ever been victimized? What did you learn from the experience that could help other small business owners prepare for the worst?
Angela Stringfellow is a PR and MarComm Consultant and Social Media Strategist offering full-circle marketing solutions to businesses. Angela blogs via Contently.com.
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