As a franchise owner, you’ve doubtlessly been hit with an unending wave of issues posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. By now, you know that a “wait and see” approach to taking necessary precautions can be extremely damaging. The platitudes about “unprecedented times” have likely started to wear on you, as it’s clear that the country and your business have a long road ahead before a return to normalcy.
At ADT, we help hundreds of thousands of small business owners, including many franchises, protect themselves from all manner of threats to their property, business, and personnel. As staying ahead of these new challenges is our job, we wanted to share how we’ve begun to identify and tackle COVID-19-related dangers to our customers, along with what you can do to stay prepared.
It’s important to recognize that in the current paradigm, there are now two categories of threats to the security of franchised businesses posed by COVID — distinct, but not mutually exclusive.
The first are physical threats to your franchise locations. These are, in many ways, standard security concerns that COVID-19 has aggravated and made all the more dangerous. The second are existential threats — dangers to the financial health of your business either caused by COVID-19, or exacerbated by the reduced revenue caused by the pandemic across the world as a whole. When considering the security of your business, it’s important to find a security solution that can address both of these categories while being scalable across your franchise locations.
Physical security is of utmost importance — while employee and property safety has always been a priority for business owners, COVID has both increased the number of these threats while making them more complicated to address. In New York City, CNN reports that burglaries were up 47 percent in the first half of 2020, compared to the same timeframe last year. At the same time, complaints of robbery (mugging, purse-snatching, etc.) are down 23 percent. A plausible conclusion is that with lockdown reducing pedestrian and commuter traffic, criminals are instead turning to break-ins.
Overcrowding in businesses and storefronts has been shown to increase the risk of COVID transmission, another example of a new physical risk. Managing this issue presents an awkward situation at any franchise location. Training employees to turn customers away if needed could create customer tension; but allowing overcrowding could pose a risk to their lives.
This is why we’ve seen many businesses add an intercom entry solution, where customers are individually admitted via a door buzzer. This ensures that suspicious individuals do not enter the store, while removing employees from the potentially contentious situation of turning away a customer. It also allows customers to line up outside the building, reducing transmission risk. Though it may take some adjustment, this is a great example of a definitive solution to ensuring physical safety for your franchise, rather than relying on ad hoc measures.
Traditional video surveillance is also a staple for protecting against unwarranted intrusions of any variety, whether from overzealous customers or would-be burglars. Ideally, a video surveillance solution needs to be scalable across your franchise locations; meaning some element of automation (motion sensors) and remote usability (smartphone access, so you can monitor your locations wherever you are).
Overcrowding is also a strong example of a situation that can pose an existential threat to your franchise. Many cities have begun to strictly enforce limits on capacity, with increasingly strict fines. NBC reports that Los Angeles enforced penalties that can reach as high as $1,176 dollars simply for displaying a “open” sign. Given the pandemic’s economic upheaval, these fines are no longer to be taken lightly. In a healthy economy, a franchise could likely take all but the most severe fines in stride. With tighter margins across the board, that same fine could now threaten your ability to maintain salaries, provide overtime, or even continue to operate.
Existential threats can now come in the form of any fine or regulatory infraction. New York can assess fines of up to $25,000 for occupancy infractions, $5,000 for not maintaining appropriate signage, and $600 for not maintaining the temperature of a food item. While individual methods can be cobbled together to address many of these concerns, the true solution is to find a security system that allows you integrated oversight over these concerns.
Cameras can identify overcrowding, scan for pests, and identify other situations that can lead to regulatory violations. They’re also a great way to deter and protect against inventory/cash register theft, whether by shoplifters or employees.
Other solutions to prevent losses that threaten the existence of your business include temperature sensors, which can ensure food storage is up to code: Access alerts for rooms and rear entrances can prevent access to sensitive or vulnerable material. All in all, for every possible regulatory infraction, there’s a solution out there that can help your business avoid it — and the associated fine. Bearing this in mind, it’s also important to find one that addresses each and every one of your security concerns, rather than attempting to construct a piecemeal solution from several providers.
Being prepared means everything
Identifying these threats is only half the battle — addressing them is what counts. Fortunately, the systems that can do exactly this can be implemented quickly. There’s no denying that security solutions are a business expense. But ultimately, it’s an expense that can be planned for and budgeted; whereas a sudden loss due to fire, theft, regulatory infraction or other events can be unpredictable and disastrous. When it comes to securing your business, the right security solution will empower you with the oversight you need to protect against these physical and existential threats. And if the past few months have taught us anything, it’s that proactivity always beats a “wait and see” approach.
Stephanie Whaley is a Sales Enablement Manager for ADT, the #1 small business security provider in the US. Stephanie has been with ADT for 14 years, specializing in sales and strategy development for both the residential and small business channels.
Michael Bothwell is Senior Marketing Manager for ADT, the #1 small business security provider in the US. Michael’s background includes 25 years in B2B and B2B2C marketing strategy development, including security solutions for Commercial and SMB businesses.