If you’re a business owner, dealing with theft issues can be an unfortunate reality. Whether it’s small scale, like towels or hand weights gone missing, or a larger problem, such as an employee stealing money from you, it’s important to address these issues the moment you realize what’s happening. Doing so sets an example for your other employees, and makes it known that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

What can you do to prevent theft in your fitness studio? We asked a few security experts to weigh in on the best practices for keeping your business protected. Here are a few procedures to put in place and things to consider when upgrading your anti-theft efforts.

Implement a buddy system

Depending on the size of your business, one employee may be enough to handle the responsibilities of opening and closing up shop. But in order to keep that one employee honest and responsible, Sam Tadesse, president of Marina Securities Services suggests staffing more than one person at a time to perform duties at your business while you’re away. “A buddy system works in businesses of all sizes as a preemptive measure to prevent internal theft,” he says. “Whether you are opening or closing your business, ensure that there are two employees there to keep each other accountable.” But what if the two employees are in cohorts? “To maintain the buddy system, rotate employees so that they don’t get too comfortable in conducting transactions together,” Tadesse says.

Update your security system

A security system may seem like the most obvious way to prevent theft. But if you’re still using the old school system that came with your space, Sage Singleton, safety expert at SafeWise recommends getting an upgrade. “Invest in an affordable security system or security camera with 24/7 monitoring to protect your small business,” she says. “While having a security system is great, make sure you have one that monitors the property at all times (as opposed to a system that just makes noise during an intrusion). In case of a break-in, these types of systems will immediately alert you and the police.” If a break in does occur or if something goes missing, a security system with cameras can help you get to the bottom of what happened. “These cameras can also capture video footage that details the time of day the break in occurred,” says Singleton, “and who it was and where they entered from. Most can be controlled from a smartphone or laptop, and you can choose the type of security system that will work best for you and your company.”

Perform regular inventory checks

Cash isn’t the only thing that gets stolen from businesses. Inventory can also start to slowly disappear. It may not seem alarming when a free weight or kettlebell goes missing. But this loss of equipment can end up costing you over time. Not to mention, this means that someone you trust as an employee isn’t being forthright. Chris Seferyn of Restaurant Pros says that frequent inventory checks will help deter these types of thefts. “The key is to do accurate inventories on a weekly basis,” he says. “Some businesses even do daily inventories to discourage theft from their employees. Theft is generally a matter of opportunity. If a human being sees that something can be taken and no one is checking, then it will get stolen a lot more often.”

Know your employees

While it’s not foolproof, establishing a relationship with your employees can also act as a deterrent for theft. “One of the best ways to prevent theft in a small business is to get to know your team,” says business expert David Bakke. “When you have more of a personal relationship with your employees, they are less likely to steal from you. Conducting background checks during the interview or hiring process is another good strategy. You should also control and limit petty cash access, balance cash drawers nightly, and establish an employee hotline so your workers can report theft when they see it — and to deter it from happening to begin with.”

Train your staff

It’s never fun to think about what would happen in the event of a robbery at your business. But Tadesse says that the key to preventing this type of theft is to train your employees on how to spot potential troublemakers — and on what to do next. “From day one, staff should be trained on being alert and aware of potential threats to ensure that they know what to look out for,” says Tadesse. “If your staff sees a suspicious person, they can monitor them or stand by the door. If you own a business with a cash register for example, keep the register away from the door, as it makes it harder for thieves to grab money and run. If you run a store, ensure that there are staff members on the shop floor at all times. When your staff is clearly visible and attentive, thieves are more likely going to stay away from your business.”

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