Restaurant Security: How to Keep Your Business Safe
For every branch of the foodservice industry, the top priority is the safety of employees and customers. Restaurant security systems and safety procedures are essential to making sure employees can come and go safely while customers enjoy their time in your business. While alcohol sales and late hours can mean extra profits, they also make businesses more vulnerable. The quick serve segment is especially close to violent crime, making it all the more important that franchises and chains institute safety programs. Locally owned establishments also benefit from taking security precautions.
But with so many different options at your disposal, it's easy to get lost in a sea of information. To keep it simple, these restaurant security tips are a great place to start on your search for a fool-proof system.
Plan for Deterrence and Response
Of course, the best way to maintain a safe establishment is to prevent crimes from happening in the first place. But sometimes even the most rigid preventative measures can’t stop erratic behavior and crime, so it’s important to have a response plan.
- Deterrence - Sometimes called the "threat of consequences," deterrence means that it’s difficult or inconvenient for someone to get away with a crime. It makes potential criminals think twice before they act and is usually enough to keep most of your customers and employees on good behavior.
- Response - In the event your business, employees, or customers are victimized by a crime, working together with police is the fastest and most reliable way to see justice is served. For less urgent safety threats, a response can cover anything from having a bouncer remove a belligerent customer to reviewing surveillance camera footage.
By practicing both deterrence and response, your business will be well equipped to handle virtually any criminal situation either by keeping people safe or ensuring guilty parties are brought to justice. And enacting these principles is surprisingly easy — you just have to do your research on security systems and security personnel.
Set Up Restaurant Security Systems
Use modern technology to your advantage by investing in restaurant security systems that will react to, deter, and even record crimes or other incidents in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
- Alarm Systems - A good old-fashioned alarm bell is still an effective method of scaring off crooks. Many security systems these days can also be hooked up to a telephone line that can alert both you and the authorities in a matter of seconds rather than relying on neighbors to call 911. Even if crime isn’t a huge concern for you, accidents can happen to anyone. For example, if someone leaves the deep fryer turned on overnight, you’ll want a smoke detector that can call the fire department right away so that damage is minimized.
- Audio and Video Surveillance - Positioning restaurant surveillance systems with microphones in discrete locations throughout the premises makes it easy for you to keep an eye (and an ear) on problem customers while also maintaining an accurate record of the evening's events. This can especially come in handy during worst-case scenarios, like fist fights and other violence, but restaurant security cameras are most often used as a deterrent. Making it clear that someone is on film — or even placing a dummy camera in an obvious location — is a great way to make them reconsider their actions.
- Proper Lighting - In addition to surveillance, it's important to keep your business's interior and parking lot illuminated at all hours of the day. Vandalism and other crimes are far less likely to occur in a well-lit area. The cost of electricity is well worth the peace of mind you give to your customers and employees, not to mention the value that safety contributes to your reputation. It's also smart to wire your interior lights to motion-sensitive switches that turn on when someone enters a room. This deters wrongdoers from going through with whatever they may have had in mind and can even prevent your staff from being injured or tripping over something that wouldn’t be visible in poor light.
In the event that your restaurant does fall victim to crime, surveillance footage becomes invaluable. And motion-sensor lighting can discourage crime in the first place.
Restaurant Security Personnel
For the vast majority of foodservice businesses, security guards are not needed. However, bouncers are great additions to restaurant security systems for certain businesses, like those that serve alcohol and stay open late.
- Prevent Violence - A well-trained bar bouncer (who should provide certifications when they're interviewed) can keep your employees, customers, and business safe by quickly defusing a violent situation. You can never overvalue the safety that bar bouncers provide.
- Monitor Surveillance - Your bouncer (or team of bouncers) can also work in conjunction with your restaurant security cameras. If they're not watching the door or the crowds on the floor, bouncers can check out any CCTV feeds or perform a simple courtesy check of your business's premises. For maximum safety, you can team your bouncers into pairs or groups to drastically reduce the chances that they'll be hurt while they're on the job.
- Escort Individuals - Bouncers can also double as escorts for your other employees toward the end of the evening, walking the last few servers, cooks, or bartenders to their cars to make sure they can get home safely. A great bouncer can even go the extra mile for customers in bars by waiting with patrons after they've called a cab or a ride home. Offering that kind of security to your customers can also help improve your reputation in your local community as a safe and trustworthy place.
If your business doesn't use bouncers, you can at least have your employees open and close shop in pairs. The extra safety that just one more person provides can be invaluable, as targets of mugging, assault, and other crimes are often caught alone. Whether it's early morning or late at night, scheduling employees in pairs is always a good idea.
Employees — present or past — have the potential to become intelligent criminals. While the vast majority of workers are not criminally inclined, making off with cash from the register or pulling off an elaborate scheme becomes significantly easier when someone knows your security systems inside and out.This makes it all the more important that your employees are loyal. It is also part of the reason why it's so critical to listen to disagreements and other issues your employees may have while they're working. By keeping them on your side, you effectively minimize the possibility that they'll exploit what they know about your business.
In the event a disgruntled employee does take action, your other security measures (including cameras, audio surveillance, and staff) should be enough to keep your business safe. If those precautions fail, having a few extra security systems that only you know about can be a great help in making sure an upset worker doesn't become a major hindrance. Other possibilities include changing the combination on your safe on a regular basis and periodically checking up with employees to gauge morale. Keeping all of your players on your team is critical — especially when the outcome could damage your livelihood.
Other Safety Considerations
From keeping track of daily trends to simple precautions with handling cash, a little common sense goes a long way towards protecting your restaurant.
- Plan Ahead - Typically, most of the crime committed by juvenile offenders occurs late in the afternoon, while crime committed by adults is more prevalent between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. So if you're located near schools, the time to be at your peak security is just after school lets out for the day. Otherwise, make sure you're locked up tight for the evening or have extra staff on hand for the night shift, when the 18+ crowd is most likely to strike.
- Cash Best Practices - It's a good idea to keep a minimal amount of money in a cash register at all times. Registers are the classic smash-and-grab targets that yield results for thieves or disgruntled employees, and keeping less money up front cuts down on potential losses, if the perpetrator gets away with it.
By taking your first steps with these restaurant security tips, you can establish the security system and staff that you need in order to keep your flourishing business growing. Deterring both external and internal threats to your company's well-being is critical, particularly when it comes to the safety of customers and staff. Following the principles of deterrence and response are the best starts to making your business ready for any possibility. But filling in the nuances that your business requires is something only you can do. Do your research, be thorough, and make sure that your restaurant or bar is ready for anything.