Now on the Menu: Restaurant Security
Restaurants are prime targets for robbery, burglary, theft, and more. In fact, they rank in the top 10 most popular locations for violent crime according to FBI statistics. Restaurants with extended nighttime hours are at even higher risk for crimes of all kinds. But you can make criminals think twice about committing a crime at your establishment with the right restaurant security. Bolster the safety and security of your restaurant with the tips below.
Create Consistent Restaurant Security Procedures
Your restaurant’s security begins with your people and what you establish for a security policy with those people. Consider designating someone to be in charge of security and execute security measures. That way, there’s a level of accountability, even if your point person works with others to make things happen. Charge that person with implementing an action plan of what to do if any situations arise. There are a number of helpful resources to this end available through the National Restaurant Association and the Restaurant Loss Prevention and Security Association, among others.
Secure the Premises with the Right Restaurant Security Devices
This is not the time to “cheap out” on a purchase. Invest in well-vetted security devices and place them strategically throughout your premises, inside and out. Price points run the gamut, and there really is no one-size-fits-all solution. It pays to do your due diligence. Look at reviews to find out what your peers have found successful, particularly among outfits with a similar setup, size, location, hours, and offerings.
So what technology should you consider?
- HD cameras are crucial for identifying potential criminals. Install business security cameras at all entrances, anywhere people handle cash, storage areas, prep areas, at the drive-thru window, and at any pick-up locations. Aiming high-resolution cameras at cash registers is a visual reminder to employees and customers alike that someone is watching every transaction.
- Two-way speakers allow a live person to speak to a suspect, intervening and stopping a crime in progress.
- LED lights, whether standalone or integrated into other systems, give crooks nowhere to hide (and help customers feel safe). Be sure to have adequate lighting both inside and outside your restaurant. If the electricity bill is a concern, consider motion-sensitive lights or timers. Install permanent fixtures that are difficult to reach or tamper with.
- Sensors near all entry points use motion detection, sounds, infrared rays, or other technology to determine whether someone is present.
- Enhanced locks or access systems for the building or critical areas (like a safe) let the right people in and keep the wrong people out.
- A robust POS system can be instrumental for tracking inventory and sales and finding discrepancies.
Deep Sentinel cameras incorporate features like two-way audio and floodlights. The system is built for all weather, so whether the cameras are in a Phoenix heat wave or a Wisconsin blizzard, they’ll perform beautifully. And because they stream to a local AI processor within seconds, they offer the fastest crime detection on the market. Deep Sentinel’s live guard service offers another layer of security not typical of all systems. In the event of a crime, a guard can contact law enforcement within seconds.
You might think about installing a security system, but consider that traditional alarm systems are notorious for false alarms. Deep Sentinel solves this problem by combining AI and human verification to assess every situation before sending out alerts.
Set Expectations with Your People
Unfortunately, employees can be the source of crime, like internal theft. Get everyone on the same page from the get-go during the hiring process. Perform background checks and call references for every candidate even when you’re battling high turnover.
Once you make an employment offer, require everyone to read and sign a policy that clearly states that theft is unacceptable and is subject to punishment. This formalizes your expectations and gives you an established recourse plan. Make sure all current employees sign the same policy, too.
Then, conduct safety and security training with all employees on a regular basis. This can take many forms, including discussions, presentations, videos, and hands-on practice. Topics could include robbery response procedures, crime prevention, and protecting company information like sales figures and access codes.
Be Smart Money Managers
Managing money needs to be an intentional effort. A strong POS system is one of the most important purchases you’ll make for your restaurant. It does more than enable customers to pay for their meals. By tracking sales, inventory, and employee hours, it also can control loss by making it clear when something isn’t adding up.
To be extra cautious, remove cash from POS terminals at different times each day. Your goal should be to keep cash in the registers to a minimum. Instead, make regular deposits into a drop safe with a delayed open time.
When it is time to take money to your financial institution, being unpredictable is to your advantage. Vary the timing and even the route staff members take to make deposits. Vary what vessel cash is carried in as well. A typical cash bag is essentially a blinking neon light for criminals. Limit the temptation of large bills by making a policy not to accept anything over $20, for example.
Having a safe is great, but your safe requires attention and intention to work properly. Don’t write down the combination anywhere, and change the combination periodically if you can. Limit the number of people who have access to as few as possible. You can also go the extra mile and have a locksmith or other professional install the safe and bolt it down.
You can’t steal what you can’t get to.
In addition to limiting who can access the safe, limit access to the restaurant. Don’t have too many keys floating around. The keys you do distribute should be stamped with “Do Not Duplicate” to discourage reproduction. Even then, have a locksmith replace or update the restaurant’s locks periodically. And you absolutely must change the locks if employees who quit or were fired don’t return their keys.
Check off Restaurant Security When Opening and Closing
Opening and closing are the two most vulnerable times for any restaurant. Employees who work these shifts should use a thorough restaurant security checklist.
Standard opening protocols should dictate that one employee unlocks, enters, and checks the premises while another employee stands by, ready to call for help if anything is out of order. At closing, the procedures should include performing a full sweep of the premises—including bathrooms—to ensure no one has stayed behind. Employees must double-check that all doors are locked, especially the main entry and exit doors. Implement a buddy system whenever employees must leave the building to dispose of trash, access storage, or go home for the night.
It should go without saying but do not schedule any employees to work solo during any shift. That’s especially true for opening and closing shifts. This is much about their safety as it is about your restaurant’s security.
Shut the Door on Security Threats
Never prop back or side doors open, even for a short time, as tempting as that may be. Instead, consider investing in a doorbell or buzzer. That way, employees can buzz it for re-entry after taking out the trash, and delivery drivers can notify you of their arrival. It can also be helpful to have a peephole so employees can confirm who is trying to gain entry.
Also, consider installing window locks on all windows. Position them so an intruder can’t break the glass to flip the lock and enter. Installing safety glass is also good for deterring break-ins.
Thwart Security Issues with Personnel
If your establishment serves alcohol or is open late, consider having a trained bouncer onsite, particularly during evening hours. A bouncer’s mere presence can serve as a deterrent for troublemakers and help employees and customers feel safer. Bouncers can work in tandem with your security cameras to check in on what’s happening on the entire premises at any given time. And at the end of the night, the bouncer can walk closing staff to their vehicles.
To make it clear that you won’t tolerate disruptive behavior, install a sign that says you can refuse entry or service at the front door.
An alternative you may have considered is hiring security guards. However, understand that this is a hefty investment, especially if you’ll need a guard with significant security or law enforcement experience. Guards and bouncers can’t catch everything, so make sure to supplement their presence with other devices and methods.
Of course, bouncers and guards look out of place at many establishments. If you want a solution that can catch every threat and that doesn’t interfere with your restaurant’s aesthetic, consider Deep Sentinel. An advanced camera system blends into your decor much more subtly than a bouncer will.
Other Safety Thoughts
In addition to the tips above, here are a few miscellaneous restaurant security ideas.
- It’s always wise to lock away laptops, iPads, and other electronic devices at closing time.
- Whenever you purchase new equipment of any kind, keep the receipts, document the information, and take photos in the event items go missing.
- If you offer an outdoor seating area, keeping the landscaping trimmed and at a maximum height of three feet is good for visibility. And plant prickly hedges under any easy-to-access windows.
- Make friends with the people and businesses around you. Get to know your local police. And meet your neighbors so you can serve as eyes and ears for each other.
With these security tips and Deep Sentinel’s live surveillance solution, your restaurant will be safe and sound.