Holiday Security Tips for Small Businesses
From the possible mischief of Halloween vandals to the shoplifters of Christmas, the holidays can be a time of increased risk for small business owners. The security protocols that are in place may be challenged by increased holiday traffic and the pressures of the season. Keeping an eye on your business may be even more difficult as end of year responsibilities pile up on top of the holidays. Prepare now to mitigate risk over the next few months.
Here are three important strategies to keep your business safe through the end of the holiday rush.
Test Your Security Systems Throughout the Holidays
If you have security cameras set up, make sure they are working and view the areas you need to protect. If you are adding holiday decorations to your store, double-check the sightlines of your security cameras. Be mindful of how your decorations and inventory are moving around throughout the holidays. Don’t let holiday decorations create blind spots in your security monitoring!
If you have a monitor button or panic button installed, run a test. Alert your security company that you will be testing the system and let them know when to expect the test. This test is also a great opportunity to refresh your training and keep your team ready to react in case of break-in or hold-up.
Computer and online security is important, too. Run a test for new updates for your firewall and antivirus software. Check your terminals and point of sale equipment to see if security updates are necessary.
Train Your Team to Detect Threats
As your team handles an increase in traffic and cash, make sure everyone understands the procedures in place for keeping your business safe. From retail to restaurants, when there is more cash around it makes a tempting target for thieves.
The pressure of the holidays can tempt employees to take advantage if the opportunity arises. An official ‘holiday security training’ session reminds everyone on your team of how to identify crime and also reminds them that you are watching. Employee theft is a huge problem in the United States. Keep an eye on your employees and react quickly if theft occurs.
If a customer is acting suspiciously, train your employees to stay calm and ask for help from you or a manager. A customer that is trying to use a damaged card or make several purchases on a card in a short amount of time might spell trouble. Train your team to verify identification, especially if they suspect credit card crime. Let them know it is ok to ask for a different form of payment instead of running a damaged card. Remind your team to avoid entering a card number manually at the terminal.
Open and Close Securely
Having a clear plan for opening your business and closing each day will keep your business safe and running smoothly. The discipline of a routine allows any variation to be quickly noticed. For example, if you check your deposits daily an unusual transaction will jump out at you. Or if you notice the back door is not locked when it should be, you will double-check your building and inventory.
Above all else, you need to keep your employees safe. While it can be tempting to schedule solo shifts, remember the risks involved. Having a team of at least two open and close your business will double-check the open and closing procedures are followed correctly, remove any temptation a solo employee may feel, and keep your business from becoming the victim of a criminal looking for an easy target.
If you have employees handling money, have a clearly defined procedure for processing transactions and running reports at the end of shifts and end of the business day. If possible, take deposits to the bank before dark. Check each shift for suspicious transactions at the end of each day. Your team should be able to clearly explain any irregularities. If you suspect credit card crime or unusual returns, report the transactions to your credit card authorizer. Everyone can contribute to stopping credit card fraud.
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