Most restaurants are all too aware of the threats they face from their staff. Employee theft is written about extensively, as it is a growing trend in most industries. But there are more threats than just those from within. Outside forces are always lying in wait for the signs of a vulnerable restaurant.
In order to protect your establishment, there are several security concerns you should be aware of, including:
- Food quality and freshness
- Kitchen safety and best practices
- Staff memebers who know more than they should
- Thieves of data, money, and your equipment and supplies
- Building security
- And more.
Yikes! When did being a restaurant owner become so dangerous?
Worry not. Here are the five restaurant safety issues you may not have thought about, as well as ways to avoid a huge problem.
1. Cash Transactions
The more cash that your restaurant deals with, the greater the risk of theft. This threat has everything to do with the untraceable nature of physical currency, as well as the lightweight nature of bills. A cash score is very desirable to the criminal element. It means that they will have a higher chance of spending their ill-gotten gains. They do not need to sell any hot items and risk gathering attention.
Realize that a potential burglar is making the same mental notes as your most astute employee. With a keen eye almost any customer in the restaurant will be able to see how many people are paying with cash. If you are dealing heavily in cash, the criminal element will find out. If your restaurant's money supply is not safe, the future of your restaurant could be in jeopardy.
Be sure to keep all of your credit card machines working efficiently so that paying without cash is always an option. Store any cash in a safe that is bolted to the ground. The first instinct of most burglars will be to steal the entire safe. Make sure that your safe is constructed is built with high-quality materials, as the next step will be to break the safe open. Do not use low-cost/quality storage devices such as lockboxes or safes you can buy in department stores. In extreme cases, you can switch to accepting credit and debit exclusively. Discouraging the use of cash, or not accepting it, is sure to mitigate this risk.
2. Obscuring Your Interior
Keeping people outside of the building from seeing in seems like it would make a lot of sense, but with a public business, it can hurt your security. Restaurants deal with heavy foot traffic, which means that any customer has a pretty good idea of what is inside. When you are shutting off the restaurant to the outside world, you are also providing cover for criminals.
The floor plan is known to anyone who visits during business hours, and patient criminals can easily uncover daily procedures. Simply closing blinds, or similar visual obstructions, offer very little security. In fact, these methods, which seem to be offering protection, are sending quite the opposite message to thieves. These actions advertise that the business is closed and vulnerable.
There is quite a bit of protection that allowing passersby to see inside offers a restaurant. Most people are not criminals. They will look out for your business, and the better they can see the property, the better chance the authorities have of being alerted. Make sure that the building still has adequate security measures, and be sure not to flaunt valuables. Simply place high valued items out of sight. If these items, such as machinery, expensive furniture, or other physical items cannot be moved easily, secure them to the floor or counter tops.
3. Loose Lipped Employees
Even if your employee is not stealing from you, they can still be at the root of your security breach. When an employee talks about their job, they can sometimes get specific enough and provide enough information that makes your restaurant a target. This type of information comes from the people who work for your business, so the criminals will have insider knowledge that allows them to steal from you and obscure their identity.
These crimes will often appear as if they are an inside job, but you will never find the perpetrators by looking internally. It can also be difficult for employees to turn over friends and family members if they do know the responsible party. Because no employee is technically responsible, there will be no evidence to hold him or her accountable for the security breach besides the association to a party, whom you are not aware of.
Be sure to stress the importance of discretion to your employees. Make sure that you voice your concerns in a non-accusatory way. Express that these types of slip-ups may even seem harmless to the employee, even to the extent where they might not remember mentioning any specific detail. The information that puts the restaurant in danger may also not seem like much. The mention that a specific day is when many people seem to pay in cash may be enough to get the attention of a criminal (see concern number 1). Be sure to give specific examples of information that should not be shared, and point out sensitive info when it arises.
4. Improper Locks
Not all locks are created equal. There are some locks which are not meant to be used for commercial buildings. The implementation of a master key system can also lessen the effectiveness of the lock. Some of these inappropriate locks are simply low security. That means they are severely vulnerable to surreptitious entry, such as lock picking and lock bumping. Lock picking is not a large concern to most restaurants because it takes time and skill to master, but very low quality locks can be opened with amateurish lock raking. The threat of lock bumping seems to come and go in certain communities.
Using a bump key is a much easier practice for criminals to learn, but it still requires the right knowledge and tools. Though these methods of illegal entry may be unlikely as compared to brute force methods, they are still worth being protected from, along with the number of times the lock can be cycled. Cycling a lock means locking it and unlocking it. One cycle is moving the lock to the lock position and then to the unlock position. If you have the wrong locks for your needs, the locks will wear out more frequently making them more vulnerable to forced entry.
Always research your locks before purchasing them. For signs of quality, look at the type of metal they use. Hardened steel alloys are going to be the most secure against violent entry. Make sure the lock uses security pins, as this will provide an obstacle for many trained thieves. For professional insight into the locks, your restaurant should contact a commercial locksmith. You can do the research yourself, but the oversight of a security expert provides peace of mind and a greater number of options for lock replacement.
5. Unprotected Glass
Most inviting restaurant layouts include windows, which allow patrons to enjoy the view of the outside community while they eat. It lets in natural lighting and shows anyone passing by that you are a happening place.
With objects that are lying around the property, a criminal could easily make an impromptu key to your establishment. This key would work by shattering the fragile barrier between them and your restaurant.
Some restaurants use metal barriers on the outside of, or behind, the glass. These products can come in the form of folding security gates or rolling gates. Methods such as these can require changes to the property, which may not be allowed. Folding security gates will also require research into the proper padlocks (please refer to safety concern number 4). A rolling gate will obscure the inside of the restaurant, which has its own set of problems (see concern safety number 2)
This was once a security concern that restaurant owners had to come to terms with, but not anymore. Windows can now be secured against violent entry. In order to secure these pieces of precariously placed glass, you can use security film. These window films come in a variety of different security levels. They can prevent instances as slight as scratches and marker tagging, and as extreme as preventing shattering from baseball bat strikes and even gunshots. These products also offer tints but consider safety concern number 2.
Now that you know some of the most pressing security concerns that restaurants face, all you need to do is take action. Following the advice provided, you should be on the right track to protecting your business and your livelihood. Make sure that you take all the necessary precautions needed for your particular situation. That may mean addressing concerns, which are not on this list or addressing several points detailed above. Use your best judgment, and reach out to professionals as needed.