A distressing but statistically true fact to consider is that every year almost half of Australia’s small business operators are affected by crime in some way or another. The Australian Institute of Criminology’s Small Business Crime Survey, originally conducted in 1999, showed that burglary is still the most common crime that affects many small businesses. According to the survey, 43% of the firms that had been robbed estimated that their financial losses were in the region of $10,000. This highlights the importance of protecting the physical security of your business in an effort to preserve your bottom line as best as possible.
Another aspect to consider is that preventing burglaries also helps to maintain and ensure the physical and psychological health of your employees. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, many employees of small business who have experienced robberies at their workplace are physically injured or endure some level of mental trauma, and the subsequent potential costs of compensation and counselling can be enormous, and financially very damaging.
The Best Form of Protection
There are some basic measures and steps that you can follow in order to provide an adequate level of protection for your staff and your property, which will also reduce the risk of being targeted by criminals. These measures should include:
- obtaining adequate insurance to enable you to deal with any subsequent loss incurred;
- installing video cameras to deter potential burglars and reduce possible criminal damage;
- installing a reliable security system to demonstrate your commitment to protecting your staff and premises whilst also potentially reducing insurance costs;
- controlling access to the business in order to reduce your exposure to criminal activity;
- protecting valuable information and equipment.
Insurance for When Things Go Wrong
Small business owners need to check the terms of their insurance cover to ensure that the level of protection is sufficient. In order to do this accurately you should calculate the replacement costs of valuable equipment. Computers, manufacturing equipment, files and tools should all be accounted for to obtain the right level of comprehensive insurance. Find an insurance company that specialises in business insurance. Ask if they have a helpful team of business experts to assist you.
Camera Surveillance Acts as a Deterrent
Video camera surveillance has several advantages. It reduces the risk of robbery as it acts as a visual deterrent. Cameras also enable you to watch and review any suspicious activity at your business premises quickly and easily. Many DVR units have remote connectivity, so that you can even oversee your business remotely. Point the video cameras to the most vulnerable areas of your business, such as cash registers. Ensure that highly visible warning signs about camera surveillance are placed strategically. This way there can be no doubt that a person is being filmed whilst in that vicinity. If necessary, you can obtain specialty cameras, such as infrared, low light and night vision cameras, for vulnerable areas where poor light or limited access is available.
Money Well Spent Means Peace of Mind
A good quality video camera surveillance system provides helpful footage if your business is robbed. It not only provides evidence to support your claim but the footage assists police to identify thieves. It also offers useful information to your insurance company, as to how the robbery occurred and which goods were stolen. This should speed up your claim and reduce any risk of a potential disputed liability.
Call In the Specialists
If your business handles large amounts of cash, it is advisable to obtain a security system which is monitored by a specialist company. Emergency personnel are notified if a break-in or a robbery occurs. Make sure that you have sufficient coverage with your alarms, and that they are centrally monitored and silent in operation. Door alarms that alert staff when someone enters the premises are also advisable and provide a sometimes critical early warning system.
Ensure that staff training about security procedures is thorough. In particular, your employees need to know:
- When to use the alarms;
- What to do during an incident, such as a robbery. Have a written procedure in place and provide suitable training;
- What to do after an incident;
- The importance of confidentiality. Any breach of security is extremely detrimental and should be notified immediately if it occurs;
- The cash-handling procedures. Vital for protecting your cash and your staff.
What’s the Magic Password?
Controlling access is one of the most important ways to protect the physical security of your business. This involves such simple steps as training your employees to be watchful, report any suspicious circumstances, and question anyone near entrances that are only used by staff. Basic security measures and procedures should include:
- Locking doors and windows securely;
- Managing keys;
- Tracking keys when employees leave;
- Changing access to security codes when employees leave;
- Enforcing a work wear policy when large staff numbers are involved.
Secure Your Most Valued Assets
Most security firms advise small businesses that deal with large amounts of money to have a safe with time-lock access for the owners and a trusted colleague. It’s also advisable to keep valuable items in a locked room. This includes keeping any critical data. Consider keeping critical files and data backed-up and stored in a remote location away from the premises. This ensures that you can return to normal as quickly as possible in the event of any disruption caused by a robbery or damage to the building.
Following these procedures and taking sensible security precautions at all times should help to ensure the safety of your business and your staff whilst also reducing the risk of being targeted by criminals.
Joanne Lemke is a final year creative writing student at UOW, who is looking to break into the corporate copywriting space once she graduates and hopefully go on to eventually some day write a book around her other passions, namely cooking and travel.