Posh restaurants, fast-food chains, and quaint, picturesque cafes. We can’t imagine our lives without them. They are a constant feature in our routines and the scene of many a family, romantic, and friendly meetings. From anniversaries to dates to just a fun night out, eateries are our go-to places.
Little surprise then that they are a big business in the United States.
There are 980,000 restaurants in this country, in total raking in $1.8 billion on a typical day. Of these nearly a million restaurants, 93% are just “eating and drinking places with fewer than 50 employees.”
The overwhelming majority of eateries in this country can hence be classified as small businesses. Worryingly though, they see a lot of violent crime – fast food joints in particular. In fact, the industry is classified as being particularly vulnerable to crime such as armed robbery, employee theft, and shootings.
In view of the above, it makes tremendous business sense for any restaurant or cafe owner to take the security of their premises, employees, and customers seriously. Thankfully, there are many ways to do this, but whichever way you choose it will have to be a concerted approach for best results. One also need not spend a fortune in making this possible. In this post we look at how to accomplish the best security for your eatery business without paying top dollar for it.
Hire the right people
Employees are the heart of a business, and this is especially so in case of a heavily customer-oriented set-up like a restaurant. Every business comes with its own challenges, and the restaurant business is no different, with employee theft being one of the highest threats facing this space.
That is rather unfortunate, as people you hire to help you are apparently the ones you need to be wary about the most.
According to one academic report, “costs associated with employee theft in the restaurant industry are estimated at $3 to $6 billion.” If you find those numbers staggering, the details behind it are even more so. The report further says that “Food and liquor inventory, unpaid food consumption, credit card fraud, stolen tips, unauthorized discounts, and free food given to friends or family are just a few examples of employee theft in the restaurant industry.”
For all the above reasons, it is worth your time to carry out employee screenings before you hire them. This is not the easiest process in the world given that restaurant workers tend to be a nomadic lot, especially those who work for minimum wage.
To make things easier for yourself, ask your contacts or any trustworthy source to recommend waiters, bar tenders, etc. for your business. Only hire people who have work experience so you can check with their previous employers about their level of professionalism and reliability. In any case, some sort of background check needs to be carried out before you let a stranger into your restaurant and entrust them with responsibility.
Put in place strong internal protocols
As indicated by the report cited in the previous section, strong internal protocols and a trenchant culture of accountability will dissuade employees from exploiting conditions in their favor.
Many small restaurants and cafes are operated by families and hence may lack the same detailed controls one would see in a corporate set-up. It may be time to take your professionalism up a notch or two, in your own interest.
For starters, don’t place too much “irresponsible trust” in your employees. Don’t get us wrong. We don’t mean you ought to be suspicious of each and every person you hire. Indeed, you cannot function if you have that attitude. A trustworthy atmosphere is crucial to the long-term success of small businesses, or any business for that matter. However, the data and links cited above clearly establish that restaurants are at a bigger risk of being defrauded by their own employees.
Check your inventories and sales transactions on a regular basis. Let the employees know they are accountable to you.
Install a solid security system in place
This is by no means going over the top; in fact, this is a must because few things will give you more peace of mind and better control over the safety and security of your business.
One cannot keep an eye on their employees all the time. Especially if someone is given to pocketing a knife here, some silverware there. Many eateries have multiple entry and exit points, some involve laying out tables outside in the open, some are dimly lit, all of which means there are many ways in which theft or non-payment of bills can take place. Despite suspicions one can’t point fingers at anybody unless they have solid evidence to back their claim or you could be looking at a lawsuit yourself.
Designing a proper security system for your business will help you in many ways.
Your needs will determine the system you need. For the purpose of video surveillance and monitoring, a bigger property will need more cameras. Whatever your size or needs though, installing security cameras inside your property and around it will help you in more ways than you suspect. Some of them are as follows:
It will let your employees know that they are being watched. That alone will deter them from trying their luck (so to speak).
According to this interesting report, when restaurant employees know they are being watched they are less likely to engage in unethical behavior and more in trying to persuade customers to order a second round of drinks. “The same people who are stealing from you can be set up to succeed.”
Altercations or scuffles between employees, or between employees and customers can also be viewed later on to determine who really was at fault.
Dodgy behavior won’t go unnoticed. Neither will laziness or rudeness, even if yours is a dimly lit restaurant.
If you capture an employee engaging in unlawful, disruptive, or unethical behavior on CCTV, you will have strong evidence to confront them with it.
Not just employees, you can also bring customers to book if somebody is being less than honest with you.
Security cameras are like a set of highly focused and unblinking eyes following people within a particular area, something that keeps the pressure on and puts them on their best behavior when the owner is not around. Even if you are present you can’t be expected to monitor each and every person on your property. Restaurant owners/managers are busy people with a thousand demands on their time. It also seems rather unbecoming of a manager to suspiciously eye their employees.
Take the awkwardness and stress of manually monitoring everybody under your roof out of your daily routine. Invest in a good and reliable security system to sort you out completely in this regard.
For employee surveillance we recommend dome-shaped cameras mounted in the walls or the ceiling that can be adjusted to view any angle. Watch high-resolution, super clear and crisp footage trained on everybody inside your restaurant. You wouldn’t miss a single thing given the high quality and sweeping nature of the lenses.
For indoor purposes in a restaurant setting, we recommend wired cameras over wireless ones. Wireless cameras are certainly handy but they will likely have to compete for frequency with other wireless devices in your restaurant, especially if you also provide free wi-fi to your customers.
Secure your property from the outside with PTZ, wide angle, or vari-focal cameras. Night vision is also a must feature for an outdoor security camera to have. Night vision cameras come equipped with infrared LEDs that get activated in low light or no light conditions to keep giving you continuous high quality coverage. These sensors turn automatically off when optimum light levels outside are restored.
Outdoor cameras come with a housing made of professional grade material which keeps them protected from the elements and renders them strong against vandalism. (Refer to this post to learn in detail about outdoor cameras.) As a result, your little investment now will keep on serving you for years to come. It’s no exaggeration to say that you just have to install these cameras and forget all about them.
Install a camera right on top of exit and entry doors so that anyone entering your premises can be viewed. The CCTV footage can be retrieved anytime you want or need to. This footage can also be used to identify miscreants and made available to insurance companies (if the need ever arises) to strengthen your claim in case of untoward incidents.
Security systems make remote monitoring possible
Now you can go on a vacation without worrying yourself sick over the situation back at work. What more could a business owner ask for?
Almost all security camera systems today come with their dedicated apps that are free to download to your Android, iOS, or Windows phones. These apps allow you to remote access your security cameras when you are away. So now you can keep an eye on how your employees are getting on in your absence, and let them know that much so that the pace of business doesn’t slacken in your absence. You can also give them direct feedback based on your assessment of the footage (if you think you need to). If the employees know the boss is still in charge, they won’t let their professionalism drop a bit.
On top of all of the above, any security providing company worth its salt will also provide you good technical support and excellent customer service should you experience any difficulties with your security system.
The best part is that none of the above has to cost you an arm or a leg. You can easily find a security camera system fitting your budget. Refer to our earlier post to read more on budget security.
We have today the luxury of using the best of technology for our personal, daily needs. This was impossible till just a few years ago. Clearly it is to our and our business’s benefit. The state-of-art security systems of today have put business owners directly in charge of their own destinies. We have discussed in this post the unique security challenges facing eateries in this country and also given you suggestions on how to arm yourself to combat those. The ball is now in your court, but we highly recommend that while you have excellent help available at your finger tips (literally) make the most of it!