Business Advice for the Christmas Period
On the run up to and during the Festive period the streets of our towns and cities will generally be very busy and it’s important that all staff that have responsibilities involving cash are aware of cash handling procedures.
It makes sense for both commercial and crime prevention reasons to bank excess cash as often as possible. If you use a specialist security firm to transport large amounts of cash this might mean that you increase the number of uplifts. If you are using employees, make sure they are aware of your company procedures and that you use at least two able bodied persons with one acting as an escort.
If you do intend to use the latter process, consider the following:
- Let the escort go first and survey the area before any cash is brought out;
- Company uniforms should not be worn but if they are, they should be covered up by other clothing.
- Company name badges should also be removed;
- Do not place money in a handbag, plastic bag etc. that identifies your shop;
- Provide all persons with the means of raising the alarm: this could be a personal attack alarm, mobile phone or a retail radio;
- Avoid a set routine – change the times and routes regularly, using busy roads rather than quiet ones;
- If on foot, walk facing oncoming traffic with the escort a few paces behind the carrier;
- Do not wear an I-pod, CD player, hood etc.;
- Be alert at all times and be mindful of any vehicle or person you feel may be following you; If this happens, trust your instincts and walk quickly to the nearest occupied shop or building and alert the police;
- Check that your security arrangements satisfy the requirements of your insurance company;
- Do not put yourself at risk – hand the money over if you are confronted;
- Remember, the beginning and end of your journey to the bank are the most likely places for attack so be especially vigilant on leaving the building.
Christmas is a busy time for Scottish businesses – and the risk of having a fire is increased as extra stock arrives, temporary staff, unfamiliar with the premises are employed to cover busy periods and portable heaters are left switched on.
These are some of the more common incidents at this time of year:
Fire-raising from inappropriately stored packaging and waste from shops;
Fire-raising around unoccupied buildings;
Blocked fire exits caused by excess stock and other materials;
Plant and equipment left on stand-by for prolonged periods leading to overheating;
Flooding from burst pipes in unoccupied buildings.
Some preventative measures include:
- Review your fire risk assessment regularly;
- Make sure all staff, including temporary workers, are fully aware of the fire routine for the building;
- Check your key holder arrangements and ensure that they know relevant facts about the building (e.g. where to isolate power or water and how to reset alarms);
- Find out when refuse will be collected over the festive period and make arrangements accordingly;
- Make a regular check of exits and emergency routes to check they are clear (open and close exit doors as they could be blocked with snow and ice from the outside);
- When leaving your building for extended periods of time ensure that equipment is appropriately shut down;
- Take care with portable heaters and keep them a safe distance (at least 1m) from furnishings.
Security in the office
You may wish to consider the following tips which are designed to help you create a safe and ambient workplace for your staff and beat the opportunist thief:
- Always be alert for suspicious behaviour.
- Never leave purses, handbags or wallets on desks or in coats if you leave the office. Take them with you or lock them away.
- Always keep money in a safe place. Never leave it in an unlocked drawer during the day. At night, put it in a safe or remove it from the office altogether.
- Be careful with keys. Always put the keys in a safe place and never leave spare keys for safes, offices, etc. in insecure desk drawers. Limit the number of safe keys you have and even then, only issue them to trusted and authorised personnel.
- Make sure you close all windows and lock doors even if you go out only for a moment. It’s easy to forget, particularly if you are in a hurry.
- Never assume a stranger wandering through the building is a member of staff. Challenge them with a simple “Can I help you?” This will often be enough to fluster and deter the opportunist thief. Don’t accept that a stranger is authorised to be in the building just because they say so. Check with someone in authority. Check with the organisation the person claims to be from.
- Never allow anyone to remove office equipment without checking first.
- Good practice dictates that if possible, visitors should always be signed in and provided with a visitors badge.
- Don’t be overawed by callers. If they demand to see the manager or any other member of staff, make sure the visitor is known and expected.
- Remember, personal safety is important. Keep calm and keep safe and don’t take personal risks.
- Never leave callers alone in your office.
- Don’t disclose confidential information to a stranger. No matter how important they may seem, always report any such request for information to your employer.
- Pick up early warning signs such as hostile body language, nervousness or the smell of drink and use management of aggression techniques if you know them.
- Don’t assume all staff are as honest as you. Take care of your property and that of your employer.
Protect your website. Make sure your ecommerce website is secure. If you have created your own ecommerce server rather than using a third party hosting company, it is especially important to make sure that the hardware and software is secure.
- Use the latest version of any ecommerce software. Old versions may have flaws that hackers can exploit.
- Use strong passwords throughout the system. Don’t leave any password set to its default value.
- Make sure the server is protected by an effective firewall and anti-virus software.
- Monitor log files carefully to spot any attempts at intrusion.
- Don’t store customers’ private information and credit card details on a public ecommerce server.
- Protect your SSL details and keep them secret.
- Consider getting a cyber security assessment to test the defences of your server and systems. Contact enquiries @sbrcentre.co.uk for more information.
Keeping your online shop safe
Top tips for online safety:
- Be aware when shopping online. Use only reputable websites and check seller feedback ratings if you’re using online auction sites.
- Make sure that payment screens are secure before entering card details. This is shown by an https:/ prefix on the web address. The browser web address bar may also show a padlock or turn green; also indicating that it is adequately secured.
- NEVER send card or other payment details by email.
- Do the basics. Make sure your business’ anti-virus and operating system patches are up-to-date.
- Change those passwords. Passwords are the keys to your information and should be changed regularly, whether for individual computers, systems or even the codes on your office doors. Strong passwords should also be used to guard against opportunist guesses or “brute force” attacks. Use a mixture of upper and lower-case characters, numbers and symbols (e.g. !, *, ?, etc.).
- Tell your staff what they can do. Security is everyone’s business, not just IT or the people at the front desk. Make sure everyone knows what your policies and procedures look like and understand what their responsibilities are in sticking to these.
- Look out for online scams. Businesses get targeted too and at this time of year you can expect emails from fraudsters claiming to be from banks, online shopping sites and delivery companies. Scams range from trying to lure victims into providing their banking log-in details to having an attachment which contains a virus or malware that can take control of your computer.
Top tips for Business Resilience during the Winter Months
- Have a list of emergency trades i.e. plumber, joiner to hand and ensure insurance documents and contact details are also in a secure, easily accessed place
- Update your key holder list, ensuring the information held is accurate i.e. telephone numbers, address etc.
- Ensure all computer data has been backed up and stored in a safe, secure place preferably away from your regular place of work
- Ensure winter protection for plumbing is in good order and all windows and doors can be and are secured
- Ensure external lighting is in good working order and clean
- Carry out a check of all fire and security systems
- Ensure customers and suppliers know what opening hours you are operating during the festive period
- Ensure your suppliers know where to deliver and who to report to during this period
- Check Christmas decorations are not interfering with security or fire prevention systems i.e. blocking sensors or not secured properly where they may fall and activate the sensor etc.
- Ensure staff are aware of and have the necessary training to implement your business continuity plan
- If you have to implement your business continuity plan ensure you notify suppliers and customers of your temporary address and contact details keep your suppliers informed of your circumstances on a regular basis.
For further advice from Ready Scotland please click here.