Has your small business been closed due to stay-at-home orders? If so, you’re not alone. Small businesses all over the country are shutting down indefinitely. Owners and managers are staying home, ad buildings are sitting empty and un-monitored. Whether you lease or own your commercial property, it is vitally important that you maintain the security of your building while it is unoccupied.
It can be tempting to be stuck in the present crisis, but it is important to think about the future of your business. You want to be able to reopen as soon as things get back to normal. If your building is vandalized, your inventory is ransacked, or a fire occurs, it could be devastating to your business. Security is more important now than ever.
How Much Should You Worry?
Vandalism and arson may be more of a problem than you think. In the US every year, about 6,400 nonresidential properties that were unoccupied or vacant are victims of fire, either due to neglect or by arson. Far more fires in vacant properties are caused by arson than by other means. There are also many cases of vandalism of vacant or unoccupied buildings each year.
It is important to remember these statistics are for an average year. 2020 has not been an average year. With our current crisis, more people are becoming desperate, or even homeless. Law enforcement and first responders are stretched thin, and some unsavory characters are bound to take advantage of that. In addition, if your building is unsecured, it could easily become a welcome haven for those without shelter.
There are a lot of things you can do to protect your building and financial interests. Relying on community, making a few investments, and hiring help can all make your small business safer. Here are just a few of your options.
Create a Circle of Protection
Chances are your small business isn’t the only one closed on your block. Create a network with other small business owners and managers in the neighborhood. Each of you can do a quick check of businesses in the neighborhood when you visit your own business. This way everyone’s property is being checked on frequently.
Don’t Let Mail Pile Up
You don’t want to do anything to bring attention to the fact that your building is empty. You should either pick up your mail every day or two, or have it forwarded to a PO box. If you receive the newspaper or other publications at your place of business, you should contact them and suspend service or move it to your place of residence.
Keep the Property Clean
If your property has a lawn or garden feature, you need to make sure that you keep up with their maintenance. Letting things get overgrown not only makes it obvious your business is closed, it also invites pests, insects, and small critters into your property.
Additionally, if your small business is in a busy neighborhood, you may experience littering around your building or on the walks. Letting this build up can also make it obvious that your property is unattended.
If you are not able to visit your property every couple of days to maintain it, you should hire someone to do so for the duration of the closure. The investment is well worth the savings in potential losses.
Make Locks and Barriers Obvious
It should go without saying that you should double check all windows and points of access in your business before locking it up and walking away. But it also helps to add multiple locks, and to allow them to be very visible. Keep track of who has a key and access to your building, and you should change the locks if any keys are unaccounted for. You can also add bars or chains to further deter vandals.
Erect Secure Fencing
In these troubling times, we have no way of knowing how long our businesses will be closed. You might want to consider erecting fencing around your unoccupied property to further deter vandals. This really shouldn’t be done unless you feel it is absolutely necessary, and you should make the fencing appear as casual as possible. Make it fence that you don’t mind leaving in place when you reopen. Remember, you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that there is no one in the building.
Concrete or Water Barriers
If you have a parking lot as part of your commercial property, you may want to install concrete barriers or water filled barriers to block vehicle entrance to the property. Water filled barrels are often preferred because they can be emptied and moved more easily than concrete barriers.
The best thing you can do for your business is install a security system. Every small business should have a security system installed, but most do not. Now is the perfect time to make this investment. If you already have a security system, now is the time to consider beefing it up. With today’s technology, the right security system can be monitored and managed virtually while your business is closed. Here are some of the components you should consider for your security system.
Your Basic Security System
The most basic security system will include an alarm on the front door, high-tech locks, a control keypad, and indoor motion sensors. It can be tempting to go with the bare minimum, especially on a small business budget. But you should think of the losses you will incur if your property is vandalized or is destroyed by fire. It is wise to invest in some of the more advanced features.
Sensors (Highly Recommended!)
The basic systems include at least one indoor sensor and a door sensor. But you can install many different types of sensors in your home. You can get glass break sensors that will set off the alarm if any window is broken. There are also window sensors that go off if a window is opened while the alarm is set. You can also get motion detectors installed in other points of access, and you should include a sensor for any additional outside doors.
Most businesses should consider these sensors part of the bare minimum security for their building. Securing only the doors of commercial property is typically a mistake, and only invites further vandalism with the breaking of windows and glass doors.
Visible security cameras are another deterrent for criminals, vandals, and vagrants. But they also serve a very important purpose. All security measures aside, there are no guarantees that a perpetrator won’t enter your property or cause damage. Although an alarm sounds and notifies authorities when triggered, it still takes time for law enforcement to arrive.
With security cameras in place, you have the means to identify intruders for the purpose of prosecution. When all else fails and your property is damaged, you’ll be able to find the perpetrator and get financial restitution. Having security footage to show to law enforcement can be very helpful.
With today’s technology, you don’t have to be on your property to know what is going on. You can stay connected with your security footage using a mobile phone app. The app will allow you to manage your alarm system as well as monitor surveillance footage at any time of the day or night from any location. This allows you to check on your property throughout the day while maintaining stay at home guidelines.
The Bottom Line
Small businesses are going to be among the hardest hit in our economy. If you have hope of reopening, you have to take measures to make sure that your losses during this time are minimal. If you are concerned about the safety of your commercial property, please contact us for assistance in determining the best security measures for your needs.