Let's talk about Bill
Bill owns a nursery and garden center in South San Francisco. He's the founder, CEO, human resources, soil and succulent guru, and the customer service specialist. Needless to say, his plate is full.
Thankfully for Bill (and Bill's social life), he saves a lot of time and headaches by automating his business. Everything from purchases to payroll and inventory to filing his taxes.
One thing Bill has yet to automate is his security system. It's not uncommon for a few pots, plants, and even register money to go missing. But security is so expensive, and how can he be sure it's worth the cost?
Turns out, Bill's situation is pretty common
For most small businesses, security can feel like a daunting task. Protecting your property, staff, inventory, client lists, data, and other assets requires time and money.
We're lucky to live in the digital age: we get information instantaneously, we can stream virtually any movie or tv show within seconds, we can even get our groceries delivered in under an hour. So why should security be anything but simple?
Let's dissect small business security. We're going to focus around four primary categories:
- Restaurants & hospitality
- Office spaces
- Industrial spaces (warehouses, storage facilities, outdoor lots)
Where do I start?
Regardless of what business you're in, we all start at the same place: assess, address, analyze, and agree.
Assess your facility with an audit. Consider access points, current surveillance measures, and your company's culture as a whole - is security a priority in your day-to-day operations? This will help you get a general sense of your business's strengths and weaknesses.
Address problem areas. Have there been break-ins, thefts, or vandalisms in the past? If so, consider the instances where those events happened: was it at night? was anyone at the company involved? in which part of the building did it occur?
Analyze the data. Are there any trends in these occurrences? What could have prevented these events from happening?
Agree on a goal. What does success look like? For some, it may be a reduction in security incidents. For others, it could be making their team feel safer on the job. Whatever it is, work with your team and managers to determine an end goal and a budget that everyone is comfortable with.
Now that we have the basics down, let's get more specific.
Deter and observe
In the wonderful world of security, deterrents and surveillance are key. Think about the security officer standing at the entrance of the Apple store, their presence alone is a huge deterrent to the guy that wants to sprint out of those shiny glass doors with a stolen Macbook in hand.
Lucky for you, deterrents and surveillance go hand-in-hand, which means you get two-for-one on most security investments.
It's also important to remember that your security measures are only as strong as your team. It's great to have fancy locks and access control, but if even one team member forgets to lock the door or leaves their access card lying around... it's all for naught.
"Secure the perimeter!"
Start at square one. Whether your business is located in an office building, a shared space, shopping mall, strip plaza, or stands alone, you need to be sure that the primary points of entry are properly secured and maintained.
Especially for businesses that share space with others, it is important to be aware of all access points to your business - some of which may not be in your control. If you rent your space or share it with others, work with your neighbors and property manager to set expectations on during and after-hours access, security protocols, and property maintenance.
Check the perimeter and entry points for faulty locks, unlit areas, or anything else that might indicate weak building management, as that is an open invitation for intruders. Keeping areas properly trimmed and maintained gives the impression that the area is looked after and frequently visited.
Let there be light
As we briefly discussed in our last blog post How well do deterrents deter?, big flood lights aren't ideal for most large outdoor areas. Large flood lights can cast large shadows, making it easy for unwelcome guests to hide and sneak around in the dark.
According to a poll from the Guardian, motion-activated lighting is one of the top ten deterrents for intruders. There are endless lighting options that can be powered by battery, solar charging, or traditional power sources.
Pro-tip: Pairing motion activated lighting with video analytics creates a powerful deterrence and surveillance solution. Intelligent video analytics can determine whether the detected motion was a person, animal, car, etc., and notify you accordingly.
An important thing to note here is maintenance. A burned out or flickering lightbulb indicates to an intruder that a) there isn't much surveillance on the property given that a needed repair has not been addressed or b) there is little control or care on the property. Either way, this is a good sign if you're the bad guy.
Doors and locks matter
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, investing in the appropriate doors and locks for your business is key (pun intended). It's arguable that this is one of the most underestimated security measures that businesses can take. It's easy and relatively inexpensive.
Investing in the right lock for your business can be a larger initial investment that saves money in the long run. Commercial-grade keyless locks - whether they are operated by fobs, keypads, fingerprints, access cards, or smartphones - are a great solution for most businesses. They allow for easy access management for business owners. Whether there is a terminated staff member or persons with temporary building access, you are able simply deny access or change the passcode without changing each lock.
For retail spaces and warehouses that carry inventory, tracking entrance activity can prevent employee theft or overnight intruders. Smart keyless locks can also provide automatic fire and emergency response, scheduled access hours, and data on number of entrances and time spent in the building.
For any exterior doors, be sure to have a deadbolt lock installed. For renters or those in a shared space, double check with your property manager on authorized lock changes and types.
In the same Guardian poll that we mentioned earlier, former-burglars voted "strong, heavy doors" in the top three deterrents. In retail and restaurant spaces, glass doors and large windows near the entry are common. Roll-down security grilles provide a good retro-fit option in these instances. Otherwise, go for an impact-resistant windows and doors.
For manufacturing and storage facilities, metal doors are a must. Metal doors also have the upper hand in terms of affordability and longevity.
CCTV: Your extended eyes and ears
With the advent of widely-available IoT devices, smart cameras are an affordable and worthy investment for any business. A set of four CCTV cameras can be purchased and installed for less than $200, and in terms of deterrence and surveillance, it's the total package.
In addition to installing exterior cameras on your property, adding video analytics is the critical component to automating your security system. Video analytics platforms enable cameras with edge computing and artificial intelligence. That means that your security cameras are able to detect objects, people, and suspicious activity rather than just recording footage.
Video analytics is the key ingredient in automating your surveillance. You are able to set automatic responses and custom alerts depending on what is deemed to be suspicious activity.
Pro-tip: pick a video analytics platform that offers edge computing. That allows for analytics to be calculated and computed in real-time without slowing down your cameras, internet, or servers.
Not only does CCTV provide a strong deterrent to your building exterior, but in the event that something does happen, you have already captured crucial evidence.
The Wrap-up: security for your business should work for you
No security solution is created equal, there are variables that play into what technology you implement and at what cost. Start with your basics: assess, address, analyze, and agree. Then, explore the options with smart IoT security devices.
The most important thing to remember is that these investments are supposed to save you time and money in the long run. Pick the solutions that matches your company and its culture, and you'll be on your way to a smart, secure business.