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Securing Your Patrons for The Holiday Season: A Guide for SMBs

Lance Guillory
December 18, 2023

It’s critical that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) take a proactive approach to security as we navigate the holiday season. With more foot traffic and heightened buyer activity, the vulnerability to security threats and critical incidents in the workplace only increases. From access control to doing your due diligence, make sure your patrons and employees are protected during the busiest time of year with this guide on keeping your SMB safe. 

Statistics for Small Businesses on Retail Theft

85% of small business retailers said they experience theft at least once a year. Today, small businesses are even reporting monthly—sometimes daily—losses due to retail theft in the U.S. 

In response to these increasing security threats, small business culture is undergoing a shift in its approach to security. This change has driven some companies to even raise prices as a countermeasure against in-store theft and the ensuing losses. 

Rather than accepting these losses or feeling unsure about how to protect your physical store, there are proactive measures you can take. Safe Haven, with world-class expertise in physical security, can guide you through this process. Here are some steps you can implement to safeguard your patrons and business throughout the holiday season.

Conducting a Physical Security Risk Assessment

Before implementing any security protocol, it's important to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. This method assists us in identifying your vulnerabilities while assessing the areas of your location where your business is most at risk. This process includes: 

  • Evaluating physical security measures already in place.
  • Assessing threat readiness to withstand an attack.
  • Examining employee awareness of your security protocols, and more.

Some of the areas we examine throughout a Physical Security Risk Assessment:

  1. Access Control: Entrances and exits, internal access points to restricted areas, avenues of approach, trees, ledges, balconies, windows, tunnels, etc.
  1. Lighting: Having sufficient lighting is key. Without good lighting, your video and natural surveillance is impaired.
  1. Information Systems: Computers or servers that contain sensitive information, like your access control data, can be targeted for entrance to your organization.
  1. Emergency Action Plans: Having an EAP gives your employees a response plan during an emergency, lowering injury rates, decreasing damage to facilities, and reducing financial losses.

Implementing Security Protocols

Once you've assessed your risks, it's time to implement security protocols. The protocols we may suggest might include limiting access to your building, increasing the lighting for your parking lots, regularly monitoring your security devices, or installing security devices should you have none.

By reducing the number of patron-accessed entrances and exits, you can better control who enters and leaves your premises. Well-lit spaces also deter criminals while making patrons feel safer, and the simple measure of securing your passwords and data to your access software (keycard systems, PIN-based locks, smart hubs, etc.) can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your systems.

Training Employees on Security and Safety

Employees play a crucial role in maintaining your holiday security. They should be trained to recognize and report suspicious behavior promptly, and you should have a protocol when it comes to reporting these incidents. 

Training should include how to identify potential shoplifters, detecting attempts at data breaches, or spotting unusual activity on your premises. What could this suspicious behavior look like?

  • Elusive Behavior: Nervous, evasive, or overly secretive behavior can be a sign of suspicious activity. This could include someone who seems overly interested in security procedures or avoids eye contact with others.
  • Unattended Packages or Vehicles: Items or vehicles left unattended in a crowded public place can be a sign of danger, particularly if the owner is nowhere to be seen or acts nervous when questioned.
  • Repeated Visits or Unusual Interest: Someone repeatedly visiting a location without a clear reason or showing an unusual interest in certain areas or operations could be planning illegal activity.

Note that it’s important to do your Due Diligence when it comes to hiring seasonal employees, as internal theft is one of the biggest causes of losses for businesses. It’s important to thoroughly vet employees you plan to hire and monitor suspicious activity once they join your organization. 

Workplace Incident and Post-Incident Steps

In the unfortunate event of a workplace incident such as theft or violence due to an attack, having an emergency action plan can minimize damage. This plan should outline the steps to be taken immediately following an incident, including reporting procedures, evidence preservation, and communication strategies between you, employees, and your patrons.

Cost-Effective Protective Measures

Finally, stay updated on the latest security trends and products in order to ensure maximum protection at all times. Research what other retailers are doing with regards to security technology, so you can stay one step ahead. 

Remember, the goal of these measures is risk mitigation. While it's impossible to eliminate all threats, taking these steps can significantly reduce the likelihood of a security incident and its potential impact on your business. By prioritizing security this holiday season, you'll not only protect your business but also provide a safe and secure environment for your patrons. Nothing says 'happy holidays' like security peace of mind.

Have a sensitive matter that needs attention in your workplace? Reach out to us today for the guidance you need.

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