For small business owners, the holiday season is both a dream and a nightmare. The significant increase in shoppers does wonders for a bottom line but as your store begins to fill up, dishonest shoppers and employees will see it as a more appealing place to take what they’d like without stopping to pay the bill.


With the upsurge in criminal activity it has become necessary for all of us to become vigilant players in the fight against crime.  When you go to work, don’t leave your crime prevention sense at home.  Almost any crime that can happen at home can happen in the workplace.


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. Don’t let holiday decorations and product displays create blind spots in your security monitoring!


If you have yet to invest in an effective surveillance solution, now’s the time! Shop around for an affordable option that will provide the surveillance capabilities you need including wi-fi enabled off-site 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.


Make sure everyone understands the procedures in place for keeping your business safe. 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.


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. If you notice a door or window is not locked when it should be, you should double-check your building and inventory.  Criminals can hide in restrooms.  Make sure they are locked and only employees have keys.


Every store has at least one area where risk for theft is higher. Whether the reason be that it’s simply a blind spot or that the products displayed are easier to grab and conceal, it’s important that you take a moment to identify potential for theft and develop a solution.  If a customer is acting suspiciously, train your employees to stay calm and ask for help from a co-worker or a manager.

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 ensure the opening and closing procedures are followed, reduce any temptation a solo employee may feel as employee theft can increase during the season.  It may also 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 and at different times of the day.  Vary routes to the bank.


You’ve got the tips, now it’s time to create your strategy! Be sure to consider each tip as it applies to your business.  Every business is unique, and your strategy will need to be tailored to it. Once you’ve got your plan and its execution strategy in place, relax and enjoy the season!


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