Franchisees: Building a Restaurant Security Program from Scratch

restaurant security
Dining table

Consider this: restaurant security programs require monetary output for potential safety measures, such as buying and installing CCTV cameras or implementing access systems. Such programs also demand an investment of time and effort on the part of the entire organization for activities, such as training security guards or involving multiple departments in the risk management processes.

While loss prevention professionals and restaurant owners understand the need for additional security, many are scrambling to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to investing in or updating their restaurant security systems.

Restaurant Security Considerations

Millions of people are employed in the food industry for good reason—one out of every four adults eats in a restaurant on a typical day. Due to the sheer volume of business conducted on a daily basis, the high number of people employed by the industry, and the magnitude with which consumers frequent these establishments, LP professionals have a lot to consider when designing effective restaurant security programs.

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  • Risk management
  • Securing property
  • Safety of customers
  • Safety of employees
  • Employee theft
  • Robbery
  • Lighting
  • Security cameras or other monitoring devices
  • Cash protection
  • Credit card protection
  • Alarm systems
  • Crisis management
  • Honesty policies
  • Loss reporting
  • Employee training
  • Environmental design for safe workplaces
  • Food safety
  • Privacy issues
  • Legal concerns and much more

There is simply no “one” restaurant loss prevention program that is right for every company. An effective security program depends on many variables, from the number of employees in your organization to the number of customers you serve. It also depends on such factors as the vulnerability of your company to security breaches, the specific store locations, the ease with which those with malicious intent can gain access to your records, or even something seemingly as easy to fix as proper outdoor lighting.

There are many components to consider, but the best security programs are typically designed by loss prevention professionals who have a deep knowledge base. Active and consistent learning experiences that review the risks and vulnerabilities of the restaurant industry will inform and enlighten those given the daunting task of designing an effective restaurant loss prevention program for their company.

Physical Restaurant Security Fundamentals

All physical security plans must be designed carefully. There are no easy fixes to physical security challenges, and we should approach these tasks with an open mind and a global perspective. We should never hesitate to get a second opinion, especially from someone in the legal profession.

Let’s look at an example. A restaurant owner decided to solve the vandalism problem in the bathrooms of his restaurant by installing security cameras to monitor the activities in the facilities. (The installation was designed to monitor the general or common area, not the stalls). While the owner did not post any signs indicating that cameras were in use, when his regular customers noticed, they stated that they felt he was right to take this action. However, it only takes one customer to disagree. The restaurant is currently under investigation, and the owner could face a misdemeanor crime for infringing upon a person’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” in various areas of a business.

The lesson in this example is when you install a monitoring device:

  • Make sure you know and understand both your rights and the rights of the public, including all jurisdictional laws/ordinances
  • Make sure the device installed is in a public area
  • Alert all employees to the presence of the security camera and its purpose
  • Keep surveillance to just video footage
  • Consider having employees submit signed acknowledgments that they have been made aware of the monitoring device as part of their hiring paperwork
  • Post signage
  • Audio is more legally problematic and should be avoided.

All of these steps will also help reduce internal theft, as employees will become more aware the store is being monitored.

This article was originally published in 2015 and was updated November 27, 2017.

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