With so many nonessential businesses being closed, many convenience stores are busier than ever. For those convenience store owners experiencing an increase in foot traffic, keep this 7-point checklist in mind to keep your (limited) employees and patrons safe. These tips can also apply to gas stations, smoke shops, cigar, and liquor stores.
1. INSTALL A PANIC BUTTON
A panic button acts as a rapid emergency response during potentially life-threatening scenarios when employees are present and able-bodied. Emergencies typically occur without warning and it’s helpful for employees to know there is discrete help at their fingertips. With the push of a button, authorities will be on their way to your emergency.
2. INSTALL MONITORED VIDEO SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS
Monitored surveillance cameras are absolutely essential to keeping your gas station staff safe and store protected. They act as a crime deterrent and, if that doesn’t work, they help the authorities with catching a determined and careless criminal in the act. To boot, technology allows for access to all cameras in a chain if you own multiple stores and sync up with your monitored security system. Investing in cloud-managed video surveillance allows you to access your video recordings from anywhere and alerts you when your equipment has been tampered with. Splurging for high def IP cameras (digital cameras with internet access) that offer clear videos to help identify perpetrators (they can even get as detailed as showing a license plate number) is well worth the investment.
PRO TIP: Place height markers on the frame of your entry door for a more accurate height description for the authorities.
3. HIRE SECURITY OFFICERS
Since your local police department can’t dedicate officers to your location, why not hire security officers during peak crime times? Combining highly-trained, uniformed security officers with your surveillance cameras and security system makes for a triple threat to would-be criminals. They act as another visible deterrent in their marked cars and have 24-hour dispatching capabilities.
PRO TIP: Employee welfare checks are another part of the security officer repertoire, so, if nothing else, consider hiring one to assist your employees in and out during evening shift changes.
4. BE THOUGHTFUL IN YOUR STORE’S LAYOUT AND VISIBILITY
Experts recommend keeping your employee area visible to anyone in the parking lot. Criminals are less likely to act if they know they’ve been spotted prior to entering as it ruins the surprise/sneak attack. Not only that, but other customers or onlookers can easily see in if someone in the building is in danger. To do so, keep displays low and use wide-angle mirrors in key areas. It’s also good practice to use a door signal, especially for those times when employees are stocking the shelves with their backs to the door. Lastly, you can never have too much lighting (inside or out).
PRO TIP: Install fencing. We’ve discussed fencing before and it applies here too because it acts as a recognizable boundary to your property. If that’s not in your budget, even painted areas can discourage unwelcome loiterers and visitors.
5. INVEST IN SIGNAGE
Just as you would display a “Protected by Per Mar” sign at home, you want to show any potential thieves upfront any measures you’ve taken to keep them at bay. Advertise your panic button, bullet-resistant barrier, cash management system, security system, and video cameras near the door so they are visible upon entry. Criminals rob convenient stores for the same reason consumers shop there: convenience. Your goal is to make a robbery as inconvenient as possible.
PRO TIP: We don’t recommend bluffing here; only advertise the security measures you have truly taken.
6. INSTALL A BULLET-RESISTANT BARRIER AND KEEP IT CLOSED
Your gas station employees should be thoroughly trained on safety best practices and one of those best practices is to be on especially high alert during the evening hours when a most crime occurs. Consider installing a bullet-resistant barrier, so that employees and still communicate with customers, but are safe. It is recommended to keep the bullet-resistant barrier closed. If an employee should need to leave the cash register area for any reason during evening hours, a best practice is to first make sure the store is empty and the door is locked.
PRO TIP: Train your employees to keep your bullet-resistant barrier closed day or night to get all staff in the habit. This is especially helpful if you have employees who switch shifts.
7. INVEST IN YOUR PEOPLE
Employee training will be your best gateway to success in loss and injury prevention. Keep your staff trained on the following:
- Cooperating with intruders
- Cash management and transportation to the bank
- Panic button use
- The bullet-resistant barrier
- Extra precautions during evening hours
- Using only one point of entrance for all customers and employees
- How to handle being away from the register (e.g. restroom, stocking shelves)
PRO TIP: Create a training cheat sheet that is visible to employees only to serve as reminders until these things become habits, especially for new employees.
These tips are also great for gas stations, smoke shops, cigar and liquor stores, and most any retail store. For more information on monitored business security systems, monitored surveillance cameras, and security officers, please contact us. We are now offering FREE virtual security consultations as a way to keep you Per Mar Protected while practicing social distancing.