Business and Operations
Health & Safety
Pizza on Fire: June 2013
By Tom Stankiewicz
Securing your store - Take precautionary measures to keep your pizzeria safe
By Tom Stankiewicz
As business owners, we hope that we never have to deal with robbery or vandalism at our pizzerias.
As business owners, we hope that we never have to deal with robbery or vandalism at our pizzerias. Unfortunately, the problem does exist and different media outlets frequently report it. Recently, my pizzeria experienced an unfortunate incident of vandalism, so I thought it would be a good idea to review what a successful security system should incorporate.
In my case, a few of the store’s front windows were broken. I can definitely understand why those who have been faced with this feel angry and frustrated. Right away, the first question that comes to mind is, “Why did this happen?” You wonder if the attack of vandalism was random, or if it was deliberate. Naturally, you review every negative customer interaction you had over the last few weeks, thinking that maybe it’s somehow related.
Fortunately for us, this was quickly ruled out, as the business next to us also had windows broken. On one hand, I felt a sense of relief in that the robbery wasn’t personal, but it didn’t change the fact that this incident created a great inconvenience for us. The visible damage to the windows prompted customers to ask about what had happened. As a business owner, you don’t want customers to associate your pizzeria with anything negative. You want them to feel safe and comfortable every time they come in to pick up their order. The explanations and conversations with the customers were part of this process until the fix was completed.
This incident added unexpected costs to our monthly expenses. Once our insurance company was notified about this situation, we realized that it would be less costly for us to pay for the repairs ourselves than to submit an insurance claim. Our insurance deductibles are $1,000, but the windows cost $1,400 to replace.
It also triggered a careful reassessment of our existing security system and I recognized that a few improvements needed to be made right away. Upon review of our security cameras, it became clear that the individual who vandalized our store came when the visibility around the building was very low. Consequently, we reprogrammed the timers for the outside lights and the parking lot lights to shut off automatically at dawn. This ensures that the area around the pizzeria has proper lighting for a longer period of time and, in turn, deters potential vandalism.
We made a second adjustment to the alarm system itself. Our windows have two layers of glass, and the vandal was able to break through only the first layer. We adjusted the alarm sensors, so the alarm will go off as soon as the first layer of glass is broken. This is definitely something that we didn’t pay much attention to when the alarm was first installed. I would recommend double-checking the setup of your alarm systems to make certain they will work properly if needed.
Additionally, we changed slightly the angle of the cameras to allow for a better view of the person’s face. Initially, we thought we had it set up perfectly, but when we looked at it closely, the images were too blurry and dark to identify anybody. As a test, you might want to examine images from your recordings at various times during the day. This would give you a good idea of the quality of images your current setup would produce. Video cameras are a useful part of the security system, but they should be used in combination with other measures. One way of increasing your security would be to ensure there are no dense bushes or trees near your business. Trim them often so the visibility increases, making it more difficult for somebody to hide behind them.
For extra security, it can also be a good idea to ask others to park their vehicles around your pizza store at night. This suggestion might work well for taxi drivers or even police officers, who, at some point, will need to stop to complete their paperwork.
After a serious incident like this, it is really important to review the security or robbery prevention procedures with your employees. I would recommend a refresher course to ensure everyone understands what to do if an incident happens during their shift. It is also a perfect time to remind the closing staff to pay attention to their surroundings at all times. They should feel comfortable reporting any suspicious activity, people or vehicles.
Your security system is only as good as you make it. It is your responsibility to make sure it works properly and provides you with the necessary details to help identify the criminals.
Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000, and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.