Small businesses like our own make up a large percentage of our customers. While many people plan on ending this week with Cinco de Mayo celebrations, not everybody is aware that this is also our nationally recognized Small Business Week. As Forbes points out, small business employ nearly 50% of all workers nation-wide. This post aims to explain some of the most important security measures we take to help secure small businesses. We’ll begin by explaining how small business security differs from other commercial security applications. Then, we’ll discuss the specific steps we take to address these concerns. Let’s take a look at some of the unique aspects of small business security.
What Makes Small Business Security Different?
Unlike large corporations or chain stores, a small business usually only has one location. If a fire burned down a chain fast food restaurant, for example, it would do very little to affect the success of the entire chain. Therefore, these types of businesses often spend as little as possible on disaster notification equipment. Quickly re-building a few cookie-cutter locations, they reason, still saves money over paying top dollar for security at each building. Of course, small business owners cannot have this mindset. We have experienced the devastation of a fire firsthand, as detailed in our company history. Therefore we know just how much care we should take to prepare for fires, break-ins, and the other disasters that so greatly affect small businesses.
Working directly with small business owners provides another unique touch to working with these businesses. Small business owners and employees take a very hands-on approach to their business security. Managers and employees at larger commercial applications often want as little to do with their building’s security as possible. These locations often ask us to do only what’s legally required and will provide a very basic amount of security. On small business projects, on the other hand, owners often ask for recommendations for additional security above and beyond what is required. In addition, they want full-time, efficient access to and control of their businesses’ security features. Let’s look at some of the most popular small business security measures that we take.
Control Access to the Building Efficiently
Because a break-in at your small business could result in losing everything you’ve worked so hard for, we take several steps to make sure that you can control access to your building. In addition to making sure you keep the wrong people out of your business, you’ll also want to know who does enter the building, and when. We use a couple different methods to get these jobs done. A security system is a small business must-have. Most burglars will turn and run upon hearing a siren blaring. A monitored security system ensures that illegal entry into your business will trigger a siren and a police response. These systems also provide tremendous peace of mind. When you enter your business and punch in your alarm code every morning, you know that you didn’t have any unwelcome visitors overnight.
We also recommend using access control systems to control and track access to your business. These systems generally require a card or fob to unlock the door. (For a more detailed rundown of other technologies available, check out our post on access control uses and features.) Access control systems do more than control access and report on who opens which doors at what times. They also allow you to decide when every employee can enter a building. For example, you can allow managers 24-hour access to your business when they swipe their card. However, you may only allow other employees weekday access between specific hours. This level of functionality makes it easy for small business owners to ensure that only the right people can get into their business, at only the right times.
Provide a Direct Link Between Workers and Their Business at All Times
Unlike their box-store brethren, small businesses usually exist away from malls or large parking lots with a frequent guard or police presence. When you leave your small business for the day, you don’t necessarily feel like anybody watches over it after hours. For this reason, small business owners like to know exactly what happens at their businesses at all times. Furthermore, they want to check in on their business remotely from time to time as well. Let’s look at a couple popular options we provide that satisfy these demands.
Install a Cellular Dialer with Interactive Services
An interactive cell dialer, such as ours powered by Alarm.com, provides a constant line of communication between small business owners and their security systems. Interactive services allow users to turn an alarm system on and off with a smartphone or computer. Now if you forget to arm your office security system, you can do so without returning to work. Your alarm will also send an alert to your phone if anything does go wrong. Of course, actual alarm events such as a break-in top the list of events you will want to know about. However, low sensor batteries, a power failure, or even an open door in a section of the office you expected to stay closed will also trigger an alert if you wish.
In addition, cell dialers give you a much more secure method of communication between your alarm and the central station. In many instances, security systems fail to create a police response because of phone line failure. Sometimes this is due to bad weather causing phone service interruption. At other times, phone lines simply need repair. In the case of a burglary, phone communication often fails because burglars have cut the phone line intentionally. A cell dialer allows your system’s signals to go through regardless of whether or not your business’s phones are working. Because of the functionality and security they add, we always recommend installing a cell dialer in a small business setting.
Use Cameras to Watch Your Business
We’ve discussed cameras as a residential security measure in our post on Security System Add-Ons for Your Smart Home. Of course, cameras are just as important, if not more so, in business applications. A camera system serves multiple purposes. For one, well-placed cameras will capture and store footage of any crime that occurs on site. This provides security, as well as peace of mind for both employees and customers alike. In addition, connecting a surveillance system to your network also allows you to check in on your business with a computer or smartphone at any time. This provides the type of easy access to your business that small business owners demand.
Cameras also help keep employees in check. Knowing that you may check in at any time, employees generally remain on their best behavior during
shifts. A camera at a cash register can also ensure that employees charge everyone properly for goods, and that nobody receives an unapproved “friends and family” discount. Therefore, adding cameras can increase business security as well as efficiency from your employees.
Prepare to Minimize Damage in Worst-Case Scenarios
As mentioned earlier, a small-business disaster generally hits especially hard when compared with crime or natural disasters at a corporate chain. Anticipating and preparing for worst-case scenarios has helped many of our small business customers lessen the damage from both natural and intentional disasters. Let’s look at a couple of the ways that we suggest preparing for these scenarios.
Consider Fire Detection Above and Beyond Minimum Requirements
You may recall from our posts about Residential Smoke Alarm Requirements in Massachusetts that smoke alarm laws change every few years. This phenomenon holds true for commercial fire detection as well. In addition to meeting minimum standards, however, we often recommend adding additional monitored fire detection to increase business security. IT closets, rooms with combustible materials, and areas with extra electrical equipment all deserve extra attention. Target any area of your business that a fire could start in most easily. The sooner a smoke detector catches a fire, the greater the chance of saving your business. A quick response from the fire department saved our business a little over twenty years ago. When that happens, the relatively small cost of a few additional fire devices suddenly seems completely insignificant.
Lock Up Your Valuables in Case of a Break-In or Fire
During a burglary, thieves generally try to get in and out of a business as quickly as possible. For this reason, adding a safe to secure valuables can save you from having these items stolen. The extra time it takes for a burglar to break into a safe can make them settle for taking more convenient items and then leaving. This is especially true if you have an alarm siren blaring during the few minutes they have in your store. Knowing that the police will arrive shortly, thieves may well abandon their thoughts of getting to your most valuable items in order to avoid being caught.
Of course, safes can help secure your valuables from more than just burglary. Our company has experienced the value of installing a fire safe firsthand. When our original location burned down, the business was able to survive because we used fire safes to store our company’s customer records and information. Although the building burned down around them, the company documents (and therefore the business itself) were saved by the safes. Consider the specific risks you wish to prepare for, then feel free to read up on the different types of commercial safes we offer.
Putting it All Together
If you own or work for a small business, hopefully you can see how some of these tips relate to your own location. Perhaps you’ve come up with a few ideas for your own business. Or maybe you’d like to see how some of these products and systems would work in your unique business setting. Either way, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to stop by your business and answer any questions you may have. If desired, we will also offer our own business security recommendations. Together, we will create a plan to secure the business that you have worked so hard to create and maintain.