Any type of revenue loss or reputational damage is worth preventing. Protecting your business against such losses means securing your employees, customers, building, equipment, and revenue-related assets.
When people think of security breaches and theft, they often imagine complex technology theft or armed robbery. But although businesses should employ the proper measures to prevent major security incidents, the reality is that those types of instances are rare. Often, revenue slips out the door simply because of poor record keeping, employee theft or lax security protocols, rather than from outside nefarious forces. Security cameras and other technologies can also help protect your company from harassment or performance issues.
While some security measures require an investment or ongoing fees, some are free and can be implemented as best practices. If you haven't yet put much thought or investment into your business's security, now might be the time to do so. It might even cost less than you think. Here are a few ideas and best practices to help you secure your business.
- Security cameras and monitoring
- Other security technologies
- Credit card and fraud protection
- Smart business security practices
Security cameras and monitoring
The first and most obvious security investment to make for your business is to install surveillance cameras. These cameras are becoming more affordable and often can be packaged with alarm monitoring services.
You'll want to place cameras in strategic areas, such as at entrances, over cash registers, in serving/sales areas and near expensive inventory. Your employees should know that you periodically view the recorded video. This will help prevent inventory shrinkage and discourage patrons from stealing. It also can be used to identify (and, in turn reward) high-performing employees. Some security technologies can integrate your point-of-sale (POS) system with your security cameras, such as Remote Eyes, Axis Communications, Genetec, Axxon, Cisco and 3VR.
Experts recommend finding a local vendor that can provide security consulting as well as maintenance support. These companies should also be able to provide integrated technologies, such as those that detect smoke, gas, motion and broken windows; as well as fob or card entry options. Security monitoring services communicate with your local law enforcement, usually for a small fee per year, and provide cellular systems with battery backups in case of power outages.
You can find our complete coverage of surveillance systems here.
Other security technologies
Accurate sales-tracking technologies can reduce losses caused by incorrect pricing, tax calculations, voids, duplicate orders, false sale records and more. If you have employees, these systems can help you track potential problems, such as routine voided or incorrect sales tickets. If you own a restaurant or retail store, a capable POS system can track this information for you. If you sell services, your payment processor often will provide features to help you track sales.
Although inventory tracking is the most relevant to businesses that sell physical products, companies that sell services can also benefit from these tracking systems. For example, inventory systems can help restaurants track food inventory, vendors, waste loss and spoilage, and retail versions of these systems can track items, stock keeping units and bar codes, item descriptions, vendor information and more. Usually, businesses can enable these types of capabilities by using a POS system with upgraded inventory-tracking tools. Service businesses can use a credit card processor to track the types of services sold as well as billable hours. You can also employ technologies to track equipment and depreciated properties. Having accurate inventory information can help you quickly pinpoint areas of loss.
Employee Scheduling and Time Clocks
If you have employees, keeping accurate records can greatly improve your payroll accuracy and reduce the risk of overpayment. Some time clocks even utilize biometric technologies, such as fingerprint readers or eye scanners, that prevent employees from clocking in for one another. Many of these systems let you view employees' schedules online and send shift-change information directly to employees' mobile phones to help ensure that they show up for the right shifts. You can add scheduling and time clocks to many POS systems or purchase the services separately. Popular vendors include Revel Systems, NCR, Lavu, Lightspeed, ShiftPlanning, NimbleSchedule and Humanity.
You can find our complete coverage of employee scheduling software here.
Credit card and fraud protection
If you process card payments, you'll need to carefully protect your customers' payment information. With the recent liability shift, you — rather than the card company — can be held responsible for fraudulent charges if you are not compliant with the latest card processing technology.
The best strategy is to use a payment processor that provides the right level of security for your business. But there are also a few things you can do to add an extra layer of security:
- Do not store credit card information yourself.
- Upgrade to EMV chip-and-PIN card readers.
- Provide table-side or customer-present processing.
- Limit who is allowed to process payments using your service.
- Maintain excellent sales records.
- Use complex passwords, and change them often.
- Secure the devices supporting your payment processing and CRM (customer relationship management) software using firewalls, passwords and anti-malware software.
- Lock down Wi-Fi access, and use a powerful firewall.
- Consult with a specialist about how you can become and stay PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.
- Consider accepting other types of payments, such as mobile or PayPal payments.
To learn more about payment processors — including compliance issues, mobile wallet options and pricing — see the payment processing reviews on our sister site Top Ten Reviews.
Smart business security practices
Based on our research and expert interviews, here are a few simple low-cost or free ways to help you protect your business:
- Quickly change alarm and login passwords when an employee leaves the company.
- Require employees to update passwords regularly or employ a password keeper.
- Thoroughly check employment references and conduct background checks.
- Keep parking lots and building exits well lit.
- Keep door entrances clear of foliage, signs or other objects that block visibility.
- Invest in security cameras that can record in the dark.
- If you deal with cash and physical checks, vary bank drop-off times or use an armored transport service.
- Create an emergency preparedness plan, including an evacuation plan.
- Track all company-owned equipment, including serial numbers, and store information off-site.
- Conduct building walk-throughs before closing for the day.
- Professionally wipe all hard drives before selling or destroying devices, including printers and mobile devices.
- Keep your staff satisfied in order to boost morale and reduce the likelihood that disgruntled employees will commit theft.
By following these security practices, you'll offer better protection to your employees, customers and assets. Most businesses, especially those that sell inventory or food items, will notice a return on their investment in these security practices within about six months, most security consultants say. By improving overall security, businesses that sell services will notice improved customer confidence, thus leading to increased revenue, better business insights, increased customer referrals and less equipment loss due to theft or negligence, experts say.