Break and enters are an unavoidable evil and it only makes sense that preparations be made for this event.
Some operators live in denial, believing this will never happen to them. They end up suffering irreparable damage when a break and enter happens.
Don’t get caught in this situation! To prepare adequately, you’ll require technological upgrades and a change in mindset. Even after making the proper changes, you must continually invest resources into upgrading the security of your business.
People who aren’t mentally, financially and technologically prepared for break-ins are setting themselves up for major financial and emotional problems.
To avoid these situations, you need to be prepared in five key areas.
1. Alarm and Surveillance Systems
You must have cameras placed at strategic points throughout your facility. These areas include all points of entry/exit, the bar, storage areas, the office, and anywhere money is counted. For your alarm system, you need to ensure you have a combination of entry and motion sensors that can cover all the areas that people would walk through.
It’s preferred to have the system completely accessible through your phone so your business can be monitored no matter where you are. This is particularly handy when alarms go off and nothing is actually going wrong. With remote access you can disarm and arm the system via your phone and view all your cameras. Having this ability saves you a trip and a tremendous amount of worry.
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Many older systems don’t allow remote access, and others don’t even keep footage for events that go back more than a week. Modern systems will not only store all the footage you need if and when things go wrong, but they’ll also make it more organized. My system keeps a log of what time the doors are opened and closed, when certain motion sensors are activated, and keeps the camera footage easily accessible whenever each of these events take place.
Your surveillance and alarm systems should be hi-tech, where you can access it no matter where you are, and organized so you can find footage when you need it.
2. Physical Deterrents
While you can’t prevent theft from break-ins, you can add layers of deterrents that make it harder for massive thefts to occur. For example, some people use heavy doors for their liquor storage rooms, and this adds a layer of resistance that slows down a major theft.
Other people use heavy doors for their cash rooms and have their safes bolted to the concrete floor, and have a locked box bolted into a shelf in the safe where the actual big floats are stored. Some people put 3M Glass Protection Film on their glass doors, which doesn’t stop people from smashing through but slows them down quite a bit.
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These layers of resistance are examples of deterrents that add time to a robbery, and you never know if those extra seconds can fully discourage thieves from taking everything.
If you’ve been robbed and you need to make a claim, be certain to claim as much as you possibly can. I try to squeeze as much money as I can out of the insurance companies for any and all scenarios.
If you get a big chunk of money out of your insurance provider, you can do so much with it. Although the following scenario isn’t related directly to the topic of break and enters, it still applies to any situation involving insurance.
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When I owned a pub, my cleaning company polished the floor incorrectly and damaged it, creating a big spot in the center of the room. When I called my insurance company, they came to inspect the damage and, after assessing it, went after the cleaning company insurance. This ultimately led to an $80,000 claim that I used to replace the entire floor of my pubs. The incident worked in my favor because my partners and I were already discussing getting the floor renovated.
Say, for another example, you’ve been robbed and you’re tallying up your losses. You need to do a very thorough examination of the value of everything you lost and claim it. And you need to think of everything. Many operators don’t even know what their insurance will cover. As a result, they don’t claim enough losses when break and enters happen.
A break-in will cause property damage, losses from theft, and also a loss of business, which many business insurance policies will cover. If your door was smashed in during a break and enter while you were closed and you’re unable to open for lunch that day, the potential sales you would’ve made are part of loss-of-business coverage.
The same thing is true if major damage befalls your bar, like someone crashing their car through your wall and the property taking months to repair. I knew someone who actually came out on top with a brand-new bar that their insurance basically paid for, because black mold was found in the subfloor and the bar had to be completely gutted. This took months and the insurance company not only paid for all the renovations, but also for the loss of sales during the time the business was shut down—and this project took almost a year. Whenever bad things happen, you need to utilize your insurance.
4. Signing Insurance Coverage Agreements
Before you sign an agreement, you need to make sure you’re covered for myriad scenarios. There are many things you need to worry about in the bar business that you don’t have to in other industries, like cash, fights, leaks from the roof, black mold, floods, sewage backup, business interruptions, sidewalks, arson, snow removal, break-ins, and people crashing their cars into your business.
When you sit down with your insurance broker, go over every “what-if” scenario you can think of and don’t restrict yourself. The scenarios you can find yourself in as a bar operator are unique and you need to make sure all of them are covered.
5. Prepare for it Financially
Most thieves that break in don’t actually get away with much. Often times, the property damage they leave behind during a break-in is far greater than the value of the items they steal. This usually doesn’t result in damages that exceeds $10,000, which is a typical threshold for calling your insurance agent to make a claim.
Even if you make a claim, there’s the deductible which you must pay yourself. This unfortunate reality of break-ins means you’re usually going to pay out of pocket for damages that are incurred by your business. In your budget, set aside a percentage every month—on top of all your security and insurance fees—to help pay for the damage break-ins will do to your business.
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If you’re financially prepared, it won’t be as devastating to your bank account when you have to repair the damage. Many people don’t set aside funds for this unfortunate scenario, and this is foolish as a break-in will eventually happen. You must be financially prepared for this inevitability.
Kevin is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces.
He is the author of a book titled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, and publisher of the FREE REPORT: Stop Losing Liquor at Your Bar Now - How to Eliminate Theft and Maximize Your Profit.