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A Restaurant Security Plan

 

Security is an important part of any business. However, with restaurants often taking in a lot of cash and operating at unusual hours they can be an attractive target for criminals. As a restaurant owner, you are responsible for protecting your assets as well as keeping your employees safe.

Every restaurant’s needs will be different when it comes to security. A restaurant’s security needs will depend on many factors such as its location, opening hours, size and insurance policy requirements.

Set out a restaurant security plan well before proceeding to remodel or construct the building that will contain your business. Security can often be more complicated than restaurant owners first anticipate so it will help if you can choose your design with security in mind. It also helps if your electrician can set up the wiring for these systems early on in your building development.

Let’s consider a few ideas and systems that you can consider implementing in order to improve restaurant security.

Building Security

It doesn’t really matter which area you are locating in as burglaries can occur anywhere. Make sure that your building will be secure after hours when there are no staff or customers on the premises. All doors and windows should be able to be secured and locked in a way that makes them extremely difficult to open from the exterior.

An alarm system is essential, although it will only be effective if someone is going to respond to it. Find an alarm monitoring service that can arrange to have people on site in cases where the system has been activated.

Make sure that your building exterior is exposed so that anybody who is engaged in suspicious activity can be seen from all angles. Limit your landscaping by planting smaller shrubs instead of larger bushes or trees. Install motion sensitive lighting that will come on when people approach your building late at night.

During business hours you may have rear entrance doorways that are not used often by employees. Make sure that these are secured and that you have a kind of buzzer system so that anyone wanting to come in can be questioned before they gain access.

Protecting Cash

Restaurants, especially popular ones, take in thousands in receipts every day. This is a great draw for criminals and a great danger for the business and the people who work there. In order to protect yourself, you will have to take a few precautions.

When you start a restaurant business keep in mind that the fewer cash travels, the fewer chances you’re taking.

The first deterrent is having a safe place to keep excess cash until you can make a deposit to your business account. Many restaurants have drop safes for this purpose. A drop safe can be freestanding under the counter, set into the floor or can even be located in another room altogether. Once a predetermined cash total is reached a responsible employee can put the money in an envelope and deposit it into the safe. The safe should then be emptied frequently and the contents can be taken to the bank or picked up by a secure courier service.

Many small restaurant owners choose to make bank runs by themselves. If this is the approach that you have decided on then your safety may depend on a lack of a routine. Go to the bank at different times, take different routes each time and you may even want to vary the car that you drive. Don’t let criminals observe patterns in the way that you go about doing your banking as it only makes it easier for them to plot against you.

A courier service relieves you of the dangers and hassles of multiple trips to the bank. The drivers and the couriers themselves are armed and trained to protect their cargo and the lives of everyone in their immediate presence. It may cost more to engage a courier service but it will make your insurance premiums smaller as well as avoid putting your life in danger. For large, popular restaurants doing a considerable daily turnover, this method has become a necessity.

Employee Security

Your employees are your most valuable assets and you must consider their security. Take steps to ensure that they are protected at all times and work with them to enhance the overall security of your business.

Use a buddy system when a shift ends so that no one has to walk through a dark car park by themselves to get to their car.

Always have more than one person open up at the beginning of your business day and close the restaurant at the end. Security cameras are very useful at these times, letting the employees choose when to exit the building at the safest time.

Let staff know the procedures that you want them to follow in cases where they encounter violent crime or armed robberies.

Employee Theft

One of the greatest security risks to a restaurant owner is posed by employees. They usually have access to most of the property and restaurant owners put a lot of trust in them. Full background checks at the time of employment can help to assess character but you can never be sure.

Many restaurants end up struggling as food costs escalate due to staff eating meals on the premises and stealing food. By all means, be generous and allow your staff to have a meal on the premises once or twice a week. However, if your employees are taking home large volumes of food then they are seriously endangering your business.

Make it clear to your staff right from the start what you consider to be food theft and what action you will take against those that are caught engaging in it. Have them sign an honesty policy that clearly sets out what is not permitted and the consequences of such actions.

One of the best deterrents against employee theft is to install video cameras on the interior of your restaurant. Video surveillance systems have come down in price a lot recently. Use a variety of real and fake cameras throughout the restaurant to give employees the impression that they are being monitored at all times. The two points to focus on are the point where cash is taken and the storage areas where most inventory is kept.

Security is mainly a function of common sense. There are courses offered by police departments and local civic groups on staying safe in the workplace and keeping your business crime free. Remember that the more you know, the safer you, your business and your employees will be.

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