Small businesses are not exempt from crimes that take place on their premises. Some businesses, such as convenience stores, retail outlets and banks, are prime targets for theft, but any business can be the victim of illegal activity. Sporting events, festivals or any occasion where a large number of people gather are also subject to disorder and lawlessness, particularly when alcohol is present
Employing the services of a reputable, licensed security agency can help offset the potential for loss and ensure public safety. But how does a small business know when it should hire such a company? What signs point to the need for protection?
For the answers, Small Business Trends turned to Greg Kuhn, founder and CEO of Omega Protective Services, LLC, a full-service security firm based in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. In an interview with Small Business Trends, he shared the following 10 indicators based on his expertise gained from years in the security industry.
Why Hire a Security Guard
1. You Have Parking Lot Safety Concerns
Employees or customers may feel unsafe walking to their cars at night, particularly if the parking lot is not well lit.
Their concerns are justified, Kuhn says, as unattended parking lots can be a breeding ground for vandalism, theft and muggings. A security guard patrolling parking lots can ensure the safety of people and property.
2. Your Facilities are Located in a High Crime Area
Businesses located in high crime areas mandate the need for a security guard.
“‘High crime’ doesn’t necessarily mean a bad neighborhood,” Kuhn said. “It could also include a warehouse located in a sparsely-populated rural area, for instance. There is a potential for a higher number of break-ins in that case as well.”
3. You’re Experiencing Retail Theft and Shrinkage
National Retail Federation data revealed that retailers lost nearly $44 billion from theft in 2014, with 34 percent of that number coming from employees. As such, practically any retail setting would benefit from the presence of a security guard.
“A well-trained, licensed guard will take steps to limit liability and reduce shrinkage, saving the business money,” Kuhn said. “That’s a fact the small business owner shouldn’t miss when considering hiring a security company.”
4. You’re Concerned About Liability Issues
“If a business has experienced losses on their worker’s comp or general liability policies, the insurance company may require a correction action plan that includes a security company’s services,” Kuhn said. “Having such a plan in place can also lead to a break in premiums.”
5. You Have Record Keeping Concerns
One task routinely assigned to guards is to keep a record of day-to-day activities regarding safety, personnel and property.
“For example, if a door keeps opening by accident, it creates a pattern, and the guard will pick up on that and maintain a record,” he said. “It may be that the door doesn’t lock properly or an employee is leaving it open intentionally to sneak back in after hours.”
Because the guard works for the security company and not the business, he can serve as objective third-party in the event an employee faces termination due to some illegal activity. That also includes testifying in court in more severe instances.
Another reason to keep records regards liability.
“Records for emergency incidents, such as where someone gets hurt, protects the business from liability,” Kuhn said. “It also saves the business owner or employee from having to keep records.”
6. You Have Concern Over Safety Issues
“If you think you have one or two safety issues, in reality, you probably have dozens,” Kuhn said. “Having someone dedicated to safety, who knows what to look for, who can pick apart what’s safe and unsafe and needs to be improved upon is very useful. A security guard would know what to look for.”
7. You Serve Alcohol on the Premises
Anywhere alcohol is served, especially in excess, is a good place to have a security guard present. A business’s liability can get expensive if a fight breaks out resulting in injury to persons or property.
“The guard’s presence acts as a deterrent,” Kuhn said. “He can move quickly to prevent incidents before they escalate.”
8. You Have Building Traffic Concerns
Businesses that have a lot of people entering and exiting a building can utilize guards to monitor traffic, check people in and out and give out IDs or name tags.
“The physical presence of a professional, courteous guard puts the public at ease and creates a safer environment that criminals will be less inclined to target,” Kuhn said. “It also sends a signal that you care about public safety and are taking steps to protect your customers or visitors.”
9. Your Safety Program is Stretched Thin
Security guards can help with a company’s safety program.
“Industrial or construction companies, for example, will often have a safety officer,” Kuhn said. “In smaller businesses, that person could also be the job foreman who puts the priority on performing his foreman duties rather than addressing safety concerns. In cases like that, a security guard can serve the role of safety officer, sit in on safety meetings or chair the safety committee.”
10. You Need Help in Emergency Situations
Security guards are equipped to manage a range of emergencies, including physical altercations, medical emergencies or criminal incidents. They will have the presence of mind to act responsibly and sensibly regardless of the circumstance.
“For that reason and more it’s smart to have a well-trained, licensed guard from a reputable company protecting your business,” Kuhn said.
Security Guard Photo via Shutterstock