Protect your business barn: Most Westerners are familiar with the concept of “closing the barn door after the horse is gone.” Waiting to write a policy until after you’ve suffered a business crime is almost a guarantee that your horses will escape.
• Property crime: Are your premises secure? Do you let trash pile up? Are your walls still sprayed with graffiti from last year? According to “the broken window theory,” if property damage is left untended, passers-by conclude that nobody cares. Which leads to more vandalism – and theft.
Tips: Contact your police department. You may be able to schedule a presentation on business safety, security and risk assessment. Use your landscaping and lighting to prevent crime.
• Security breaches: Do you know what to do if you suffer an internal security breach? You will have legal obligations if this occurs, so get a policy prepared and staff educated in advance.
Tips: Use a shredder for paper documents. Be cautious about sharing information on the Internet. Protect your tax records. Monitor for new credit cards set up in the name of your business. Remember that email is not as confidential as it seems and could be hacked.
• Customer theft: Spokane’s Downtown Association used to host retail employee seminars. We got some great training on suspicious credit cards, detecting fake $50 bills, and how to handle a holdup. We also learned to spot potential shoplifters – someone wearing a bulky coat too hot for the weather, for example, or pushing an empty stroller.
Tips: Train your employees to greet every customer. It’s simple but puts thieves on notice that your employees are watchful – the last thing they want. Hang a poster on your front door that is exactly 6 feet off the ground. That way, employees can measure a robber’s height against it.
• Start with Trust by looking up businesses you intend to do business with at www.bbb.org. Anyone can put up a website, but only BBB Accredited Businesses can display the real Trust Seal.
Holly Doering, BBB editor