June 3, 2020
Business owners across the country have been hit hard in recent months. The COVID-19 pandemic closed many businesses or completely changed the way they have had to do business. Just as businesses were beginning to reopen, riots and looting have left many businesses dealing with smashed windows, stolen merchandise. Some have even had their buildings burned to the ground.
In cities such as Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and many others across the country, national chains including Target, Nordstrom and Nike have been impacted by the looting and riots. News reports have documented ransacked stores, kiosks set aflame and looters scoring suitcases full of products from makeup and shoes to clothing and technology.
The Impact of Riots and Looting on Businesses
It’s not just big businesses that have been targeted over recent days. Small business owners and mom-and-pop shops like yours have experienced property destruction, including graffiti, broken windows and burned dumpsters. Many business owners have expressed despair and devastation over this new blow, especially while many are still weathering the storm that is the coronavirus pandemic. Stories of business owners standing guard throughout the night to protect their property demonstrate the steps they are willing to take to protect what they have worked so hard to build.
It is impossible to predict when a riot will occur or which businesses will be targeted. Generally, riots and looting target businesses and properties by virtue of their proximity to the heart of the riot, not the type of business. Because of the uncertainty of it, business owners need to be prepared at all times for potential dangerous events that put their businesses at risk.
What can business owners do to protect their properties and livelihoods during periods of rioting and looting? As a Business Solutions firm, Louis Mamo & Company is often engaged by our clients and sought out to provide answers on many aspects of a company’s operations.
In the last few days we have been asked what are the best ways of keeping a business safe during the civil unrest we are currently seeing.
The key is planning and keeping safety in mind. Here are some steps businesses can take to protect their assets during periods of unrest.
Assess your property for vulnerabilities.
Part of being prepared for an emergency is understanding where you are most vulnerable. Do a thorough inspection of your property, including the surrounding businesses, parking areas, alleys and streets. Where are you most at risk? Where are there gaps in your security? Act now to put security measures in place. This information will also be helpful when hiring a security guard company to protect your business from looters.
Remove valuables and money from the premises.
Cash, merchandise and equipment should be removed from the premises to whatever extent possible. Removing valuables beforehand will minimize your losses if your business becomes a target. If you do remove your assets from the property, post signs that indicate that there is nothing of value on the premises. Although not a surefire deterrent, looters may be less inclined to target your business if they know that anything of value has been removed from the store.
Do not attempt to handle looters on your own.
Although the desire to protect your business may be strong, do not attempt to thwart looters on your own. Without the proper tools and training, you run the risk of seriously injuring yourself or someone else. If the situation begins to get out of hand, your property could become an even greater target. And if someone gets hurt, you may find yourself in legal trouble.
Instead of taking matters into your own hands, hire temporary security guards to protect the premises. Trained and experienced guards know how to handle emergency situations such as rioting and looting. They have the skills to deter looters, deescalate threats and act with composure in the face of dangerous or uncertain situations.
Contact local authorities for further guidance.
Look to local authorities, including police and fire, FEMA and other city officials for guidance. Your local officials and community organizations can educate you on the emergency response protocols in your area and plans specific to the current unrest. They may also be able to provide you with resources for protecting your business now and picking up your business later.
Any business owner knows that their business is more than the products or services they sell. It is a product of years of blood, sweat and tears. To say that the last few months have posed a challenge to business owners, especially small businesses and mom-and-pop shops, would be an understatement.
If you own or manage a business in a city that is experiencing riots and looting, you may contact Howard Brody in the Louis Mamo & Company Las Vegas office for information on how you can get qualified, competent on-site security to protect your business. Many companies deploy guards when and where you need them for temporary and short-term assignments.
(Sources: SBA, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Various Retail and Small Business Security Resources)