Security Practices for the Holidays
Make sure your employees know how to make this a safe season
as well as a profitable one
The most important aspect of your operation is: (A) profits,
(B) marketing, (C) security.
The answer may be debatable, but if you don't have good security,
the rest doesn't matter. "They all go hand-in-hand,"
security expert Hugh Mitchell said at the PrimeTime Fall Marketplace
& Conference in Las Vegas, where he presented a seminar sponsored
by the magazine and coordinated by Charlotte Preston Catalysts,
White Bear Lake, MN.
Security grows more important as society becomes more violent
and children grow up with lower regard for life, said Mitchell,
who is director of security at Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma
City, OK. The time to prepare is before it happens. Once you're
face to face with an armed robber, it's too late to do anything
but pray, he said. "There are no guarantees, but there are
ways to prevent this," he said.
To circumvent crime, make your store unattractive to criminals.
When Mitchell's boss, Gary Gordon, closed three stores and built
one superstore, he hired a security expert to help with the design.
Columns in front are spaced so a vehicle can't ram the entrance.
A nearby rose garden conceals concrete posts that would hamper
a quick getaway. There is only one door for customers, and the
path to that door is an obstacle course of zig-zagging display
cases that would deter a grab-and-run burglar.
The back door (for employees only) has a sign indicating any
robbery attempt will be met with armed resistance. Cameras inside
and out give Mitchell a bird's-eye view spread over four monitors.
Should the unthinkable happen, he can press a button to lock
down the entire store (which he would do only if it wouldn't
put customers and employees at risk).
In addition to store design, here are some other protective
steps to take:
- Hire someone specifically to orchestrate and manage security
(salaries begin around $30,000).
- If you can't afford to hire someone for this position, choose
an employee to be trained in security in addition to his or her
- Have your security person dress in a suit rather than uniform,
which can intimidate customers.
- Teach your security guard to greet everyone who comes in
(allowing a chance to size up customers) before passing them
on to a sales associate.
- Alternate your times and routes on your way to and from work.
Give certain people keys to the store and others the combination
to the safe so a criminal can't kidnap one person and get access
to both the store and the safe after hours.
- Always open and close with at least two people, with one
person watching from a distance.
- Never, ever open early or stay late for a customer. Blame
it on your insur-ance company if they complain.
- Use pick-resistant locks on showcases and glass with metal
trim or clips so no one can use suction cups to lift off the
- Use closed-circuit TV to see if any customers pay undue attention
to security cameras or cash areas.
- Use a code phrase to notify other employees if something
doesn't seem right in the store. At Samuel Gordon Jewelers, for
example, the phrase is "Robert Case called about his watch."
Robert stands for robber, Case stands for casing the store and
watch stands for watch out.
"If you show criminals that you take security seriously,
they'll most likely find someone else to rob," he said.
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.