As a business owner of a 24 hour convenience store or gas station, your first priority should be the safety of your employees and customers. That’s why it’s imperative to come up with a comprehensive security plan for all of your employees to follow.
If you follow the appropriate security and safety plan, you’ll be going a long way to prevent a potential robbery, as well as ensuring your employees are prepared to do the right thing in case of a robbery.
In speaking with Tracy Alldaffer, an independent security consultant with over 30 years of experience in a corporate convenience store security role, he informed us about ten common mistakes convenience store employees make that put them at risk to be a victim of a violent crime. Understanding how to prevent these ten mistakes from happening will help keep everyone safe.
Ten Common Convenience Store Safety & Security Mistakes
Store Management Doesn’t Keep Up With Training
The convenience store and gas station industry (and all retail for that matter) experiences a higher level of turnover, so it’s important to stick to a regular training schedule to make sure everyone has the same level of experience should a robbery situation occur. If your employees aren’t trained, that could lead to injury
Having the Bullet Resistant Barrier Open During Lockdown Hours
The main reason we recommend the Slider System for gas stations and convenience stores is because the chances of criminal activity goes up exponentially in the hours between dusk and dawn. You need a system that allows for maximum customer service and safety. If your employees do not close the slider in the evening, or worse, leave the protection of the barrier during lockdown without first making sure the store is empty and locking the front door, they could be prone to a violent crime.
Employees Aren’t Visible From The Outside
While it’s important to make sure your store is stocked with merchandise and floor displays, make sure they do not block the view to the outside. If the potential robber can see the employee while outside and the employee can see the parking lot, the would-be criminal will be less comfortable following through with the robbery.
If you don’t have your parking lot well lit, you’re giving the robber more coverage. A brightly lit parking lot area will make the robber lose confidence in his ability to sneak up onto your store.
Not Having a Good Video Camera System
Don’t skimp on your video camera system. Sure, newer systems are more expensive, but the picture clarity they offer will help law enforcement identify the perpetrator much easier than a grainy recording from an old VHS camera system. You can even get cameras that integrate with your POS system now as well.
Employees Not in Uniform
If your employees are not wearing an approved store uniform, this could cause confusion in the case of a robbery. This confusion on who works in the store may possibly lead to injury.
Using the Panic Button Too Soon
Panic buttons are installed in some convenience stores and gas stations to alert police of a robbery. They are intended to be pushed after the robbery happens to alert the police. If the Panic Button is pushed too soon, you could be triggering a hostage situation if the police show up during the robbery. Also, if the robber sees you going for the button, that could put yourself in danger.
Too Much Money Available in the Register
If you’re not using a Smart Safe system, or you have one and you’re not using it correctly, you’ll be left with more money in your register than necessary. If you’re robbed with a large amount, then the perpetrator will think they can get the same score at another store and it will encourage them to try again. If you work for a franchise store, this could put your colleagues at risk, especially if they’re using proper procedures. The robber will think the clerk is lying when they don’t score as much from that store.
Not Having Proper Items in Place to Deter Robbery Attempt
If you have safety elements in place in your store, put a sticker on the front door. Bullet Resistant Barrier? Cash Management System? Let the robber know up front. If they know the robbery will be a challenge, they’ll get discouraged and leave. Inversely, don’t bluff. If the robber finds out, that could put employees in danger.
Employee Refuses to Cooperate With Robber
This is a big one. To keep everyone in the store safe, give the robber your full cooperation. The store is insured and will recoup the loss. You don’t want to do anything to increase the odds of injury. Cooperate even if you’re in a bullet resistant barrier. Sure, you might be safe behind it, but if there’s a customer in the store, you’ve just put them in harm’s way. Also, don’t be a hero. Even if you think you can overpower the robber, doing so could put you in a deadly situation. The best thing to do is cooperate completely and use the height strips on the doors to estimate the robber’s height and fill out your robbery description form as accurately as possible once the robber leaves.