Despite the holiday ahead, worrisome thoughts about the safety of the business and employees can play on the mind. 'Can someone break in?', 'Will the electricity circuit black out?' and 'Will the team stay safe?' are some of the questions business owners tend to think about during this period.
Depending on the business, there are a number of things that can go wrong without anyone there to manage the problem. Here are my top five tips on how to keep your business safe over the Christmas holidays:
1. Identify risks unique to your business
When I speak to many business owners I hear: 'We've got nothing anyone would be interested in stealing'. This comes from a belief that criminals are only interested in cash and valuables.
However, risk goes beyond simple theft, and any incident that affects your business could have a far greater impact than the cost of the goods alone.
A butcher showed me his coolroom holding nearly $200,000 worth of meat and assumed nobody would steal half a cow. I pointed out that a fridge failure over the weekend could write off his entire stock (and a monitored alarm system can alert you to temperature changes).
The consequences of a loss far outweigh the modest cost of preventing it.
2. Protect workers wherever they roam
Most businesses address workplace health and safety but have a natural tendency to confine this to their office or headquarters, rather than any place workers could actually be.
Not only does the employer carry a legal responsibility for their safety, an injury to an employee (even while off duty) can have a serious impact on a business' operations.
As well as wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday, employers should take a few moments to talk to staff and remind them how to be careful in a season of drinking and partying.
3. Test your systems
Although Australian standards specify that security systems should be tested regularly (at least once a year for most commercial premises), very few people do it.
It's not uncommon for us to find a business owned by someone who was security-conscious and put in an alarm system that was ahead of its time 20 years ago, but now it hasn't been serviced for years.
4. Upgrade your security before, not after, you need it
Most people's natural behaviour is to ignore security until after they've suffered a loss.
We are constantly contacted by people who've just been robbed and want to discuss alarm installation and monitoring. This is too late!
It's much better to implement security proactively, before you suffer a loss in the first place. Don't leave it to the last minute.
We get so many people who ring every year just before Christmas, worried about security over the holidays. However, criminals work all year round. Security is just as important in February as it is in December.
5. Plan for a safe, secure 2017
Many businesses use the quiet January period to plan for the year ahead.
Start to include safety and security in these plans each year. Assess your overall risk (or seek assistance from someone who can help with this). Encourage staff to be part of this exercise. If they own it, they will implement it.
Security only works when it's everyone's responsibility – not just the owner's, manager's or security contractor's.
Quick things to consider:
- Locks and keys: Is it time to consider auditable electronic access control?
- Alarms and monitoring: Check the Australian Security Industry Association website to see whether your security company is a 'graded' monitoring centre. If not, move.
- Window protection: Transparent window films can improve security without affecting aesthetics.
- Internet protocol (IP) monitoring: Switch to IP monitoring of alarms instead of costly, insecure phone line-based monitoring.
- Security policies and procedures: Are all staff aware of their responsibilities?
- Patrols: Many businesses hire patrol companies to check on their premises. This is outdated and modern video patrols can achieve the same or better results, often at a significantly lower cost. Obviously, this requires a capable CCTV system.
- Fire safety: Are your smoke detectors less than 10 years old? Are they monitored?
- Insurance: Your business may have grown since you bought your policy. Check that it's up to date with your current list of assets and your operating environment.
Daniel Lewkovitz is the CEO of Calamity Monitoring, which won Personal and Business Services Provider of the Year at the Optus My Business Awards 2016.