With the holiday season upon us it’s important to ensure that your premises are safeguarded against increased risks such as petty crime and other incidents that could disrupt your business. By spotting danger zones in and around your business premises, you can better prepare for any damages to your shop or eatery. Take the time to run through our checklist and inspect your building from top to bottom before the silly season begins.
Avoid break-ins and theft – take these steps
Burglars have a way of gaining access via the most unexpected places so the less opportunity you provide for entry, the better. Ask your security company to do an updated security audit to help you identify weaknesses in your physical surroundings. This is particularly important if your premises are located in a shopping mall or building with shared access. Make a list of concerns to discuss with your landlord or fellow tenants to put your mind at ease.
Here are some areas to check and reinforce to make your premises less attractive to opportunistic crime:
Lighting: Be sure to light up all points of entry, including the roof. Good lighting eliminates shadows, which burglars use for cover. Consider motion sensor lights or floodlights and leave lights on inside just as you would do at home.
Locks: You want the very best locks money can buy to secure doors, windows, skylights and other openings. Change locks regularly and use deadbolts where you can. Of course, no lock is completely burglar-proof but the longer criminals struggle to get in, the more time your alarm company has to get there.
Windows and doors: Check for signs of any structural weakness – crow bar gangs think nothing of lifting a security gate or forcing open burglar bars. Windows frames shouldn’t be loose or rotting and window glass should offer good visibility during the day so that your employees can see if someone is skulking around outside. In areas where you keep cash or valuable stock, cover windows with burglar-resistant glass, bars or wire mesh. Keep your expensive merchandise away from the windows – toward the centre of your store.
Parking lot: If you own a restaurant, you’ll want to keep your customers safe when they’re walking to their cars. Install suitable lighting, CCTV cameras and – if necessary – extra security patrols over the holiday season.
Alarm system: Finally, inspect your alarm system and educate your staff on proper use – where panic buttons are located, how to arm the alarm when they leave, important phone numbers to know, etc. Post warnings in clear view that your business is being monitored 24/7 (whether it is or not!).
Protect your business from flooding and bad weather
In some parts of South Africa, December is a very wet month so to avoid damages from hail or flooding, regularly clear all gutters and storm water drains. Protect valuable machinery and stock (such as dry food supplies in your restaurant) by raising it off the floor, unplugging machines when not in use, and investing in sandbags to put in front of door openings. If flooding occurs, report any blocked municipal drains and service disruptions to your local council city for speedy attention.
Prevent fires from happening
When everyone is rushed off their feet, boxes and packaging materials may pile up and create a fire risk. Remind staff to keep exits clear. Ensure that you keep on top of your waste disposal routine and that flammable materials are stored safely. In restaurant kitchens, fires often start because of overheating, unattended cooking or fatty residues that ignite, so be diligent in keeping workspaces clean. Install a smoke alarm and be sure to have plenty of (working) fire extinguishers on hand.
Deal with vandalism
If you’re ‘lucky’, vandalism will only cause you a defaced storefront but, in severe cases, vandalised structures, machinery or vehicles can put your business on hold. This is where business interruption insurance is essential. Keep an eye on local news to see what kind of incidents are occurring in your business precinct and take an active interest in your body corporate, business forums, social media groups and/or neighbourhood watch programmes. Consider setting up a WhatsApp group or ‘telephone tree’ with neighbouring businesses. Should a problem develop, each business is responsible for calling the next contact on the tree.
Beware of liability claims
Check the terrain around your business – stairs, walkways, ramps, decking, etc., for possible tripping hazards. In case a customer falls over something, liability insurance will help protect your interests.
Make sure you’re properly covered
Speak to your broker to check if you have adequate cover in place or use Santam’s interactive tool, which helps to highlight the different types of risk your business could potentially face, and the solutions we offer. If your start-up is currently not insured, take a look at our focused small business insurance.
If you’d like more information about protecting your business premises this holiday season, visit our business advice page or call us directly on 0860 444 444.