Christmas is a time when business owners across the country are able to take a well-earned break, put their collective feet up and enjoy Christmas crackers, roast turkey, rousing renditions of ‘we three kings’ and all of the other things that make the festive season so highly anticipated and – dare we say it – magical.
That said, it’s difficult to properly relax in the knowledge that your business isn’t quite as secure as it could be. If the worst should happen, and your business should suffer an attack, then your time off might well be irredeemably soured. And even if nothing should happen, you’ll have spent so much time worrying about the possibility that you’ll feel more stressed coming back to work in January than you did when you locked up in December!
This worrying is more than justified; Christmas time is when thieves, vandals and other criminals have a golden opportunity. In the world of retail, businesses are so busy at this time of year that many staff members barely have time to worry about the possibility of crime. Moreover, staff might already have let their guard down and gone into ‘holiday mode’. This presents potential attackers with a golden opportunity to strike!
One possible strategy is to simply ignore the problem and hope for the best. While this is a strategy which is popular with many business owners, it’s certainly a flawed one. It’s far better to take security seriously over the Christmas period, make the necessary arrangements, and take that proverbial load off your mind.
Check your security systems
The first priority should be to evaluate your existing systems. This should be done regularly, in order to keep on top of any security concerns before they evolve into a serious vulnerability. Ideally, an annual evaluation of your security should be done, just as you would do with a fire risk assessment.
Of course, evaluating a business’s security is a skill, and it might not be a skill that you’re particularly blessed with. You might also be too familiar with the business to be able to point out its flaws. For these reasons, it’s often helpful to bring in outside help in the form of a professional security consultant.
If your investigations should reveal a weakness, then it’s important that it be addressed as soon as possible, and ideally before the Christmas period. This might mean simply altering your procedures in order to minimise risk. During the Christmas period, shops are at their busiest – this means that large amounts of cash may be present in store, encouraging thieves. Ensuring that this cash is handled appropriately and that large amounts of it are not left on site will go a long way toward deterring thieves.
On the other hand, it might mean investing in newer technologies, like CCTV, or hiring more security staff. These are expensive options, to be sure and for this reason many business owners are dissuaded against taking them. But they are preferable to the alternative – if you have to replace a door that’s been kicked in, or a window that’s been smashed, you might rue your lack of earlier investment!
Protect your premises
There are a number of ways in which you might protect your business – not just over the Christmas period itself, but during the run-up to it. Retailers will likely experience a huge increase in footfall during this time, and so it’s often wise to hire some extra temporary security staff, to both look out for potential shoplifters and to control any crowds which grow a little too over-enthusiastic.
You should also think about installing physical barriers to thwart intruders even when your shop isn’t open. If you’re fortunate enough to be located within a shopping centre, then you’ll already have paid for some level of security. You might also consider installing a shutter system if you haven’t already, or reinforced glass to prevent thieves from smashing their way in.
It’s worth also hiding your most high-value goods from the public. If your stock room is on the ground floor, it’s worth boarding (or bricking) over any windows, to prevent thieves from scouting out its contents. If you have parking in front of your premises, then it’s worth installing bollards to prevent criminals from conducting ram-raids. You might also consider temporary bollards, in order to selectively allow people to park there. This way you’ll be able to effectively close off your car park while you’re away, and thereby safeguard your business against attack.