No matter how small your business might be, security should be high on your priority list. You might have only a few pieces of expensive equipment, but to an amateur criminal that may be a good enough reason to attempt a break-in.
Fortunately, you don’t need an expensive or complicated security system to protect your company’s assets — but you do need to do your homework. Before you start to shop around, take some time to outline your business’s special security requirements. That way, you’re less likely to be dazzled by a salesperson into getting more than you actually need. Think about which of your company’s assets are the most valuable and vulnerable to theft. Then outline the potential security threats — how serious are they? And how much can you afford to spend to protect them?
Here are two basic security technologies to consider:
Alarm Systems. Look for a system with an integral alarm panel — one where the control circuits fit into a keypad. This kind of system is commonly used by small businesses, which often need only one alarm panel to secure the entire premises. With a keypad system, you can reprogram your pass code at any time or set a separate code for each employee (when the employee leaves the company, simply cancel the code). You can also use the keypad to manually activate an audible panic siren, a silent hold-up alarm, or a fire or medical alarm.
When your alarm does go off, you’ll want to make sure that help arrives as soon as possible. For less than $300 a year, you can have a monitoring service standing by 24 hours a day to alert the authorities in case of a fire or attempted break-in at your business.
While there are “install-it-yourself” security systems on the market, it’s best to go with a professionally installed system. They may cost a little more, but the service and quality you’ll get will make it worthwhile. And a simple sticker with the logo of your security company, when placed on your front door, makes a great security device in itself.
CCTV. A traditional CCTV system consists of four parts: a camera or cameras, a monitor screen, a “quad” unit that monitors multiple camera outputs and a VCR that records the images on 12- or 24-hour videotapes. The sight of a surveillance camera can be an effective crime deterrent in itself. But in some situations — like when you suspect employee theft — you may want to monitor your business with a covert wireless camera. You can buy these devices pre-installed in everyday items such as briefcases, pagers and houseplants.
Even if you can afford the most sophisticated technology, electronic security devices should only be a secondary line of defense. Low-tech, common-sense strategies, such as installing adequate lighting around your business and investing in good locks, are also necessary.