Common Sense Security
Practical Look At The Exposures Present In Vending
By Stacy Bradshaw
ATLANTA – Plan for the worst; work and hope for the best. Theft and
vandalism in the vending industry are real, often unavoidable,
problems. But as Grayson Wood explained at the NAMA Exhibition in
Atlanta, Georgia, there are some simple things an operator can do to
help secure their assets.
ATLANTA – Plan for the worst; work and hope for the best. Theft and vandalism in the vending industry are real, often unavoidable, problems. But as Grayson Wood explained at the NAMA Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia, there are some simple things an operator can do to help secure their assets.
According to Wood, protecting your assets begins with hiring.
Once you hire an employee, you innately trust them with your assets. Because your employees have access to your product, equipment, trucks, facilities and money, and are typically unsupervised for long periods of time, protecting yourself with a rigid hiring program is essential.
Begin with a background investigation. When you send an employee into a client’s facility, you are ultimately responsible for their actions. Have employees take a drug test upon hiring, and have a drug policy in your employee handbook.
“If you don’t prevent vehicular accidents by doing everything you could,” explained Wood, you are liable.
Having a third-party administrator take care of some of these initial steps is costly, but could save you a lot of money in the end.
Remind employees as often as possible not to leave cash bags out in the open at a client location. Train them to secure your assets. Communicate to your employees how much you lose when product is stolen, or when trucks are damaged. Monitor their fuel consumption to ensure staff aren’t topping up at the pumps.
Most importantly, he said, hold employees accountable. “If they come back three-to-four per cent short every month, it’s probably in their pocket,” said Wood. And the same thing goes for stales and wastes.
Set up policies with the protection of your own assets in mind. Set up cash handling procedures and a cash-transport transfer log that employees must sign everyday.
Make your accountability system rigid enough to protect your assets, but be careful not teach them how to steal by giving them too much information.
All policies and procedures should be outlined in an employee manual.
Your fleet is your number-one exposure. Wood suggested operators take a look at how the truck’s body is configured. Is it overloaded beyond its capacity? Is it conducive to ensuring the driver doesn’t get hurt? Are the drop-safes located too close to the exits of the truck, allowing for side or rear door theft?
Never rely on a disclaimer that says, “This driver does not carry cash.” These statements only tempt thieves and allude to the fact that the driver is indeed carrying cash. The more anonymous you are, said Wood, the safer your assets.
Operators should consider having a GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking device installed in their drivers’ cell phones, said Wood. Some cell phone companies will offer it as part of your existing plan. Not only will this alleviate the drivers’ temptation, GPS will allow you to more efficiently plan routes and service calls.
And when drivers arrive at a client location, the operator should do what they can to prevent avoidable accidents and
collisions. Make sure the driver does not have to back-in the truck, and ask the client to let them park as close as possible, in a visible location, not a dark alley or side street.
Locks and Keys
“Locks are a big deal. Buy one from Home Depot for two bucks and you’re putting yourself at risk. Good locks cost a lot of money, but they will save you a lot in the end.”
According to Wood, locks are only as good as their hasps. Universal keys can get into any cheap hasp very easily. The best locks for the vending industry are the ones with hasps that you cannot get to, like hockey puck locks, explained Wood.
Or better yet, invest in a lock that cannot be picked. CyberLock by Videx, has no keyway. It is the electronic version of a standard mechanical lock cylinder.
Solutions like CyberLock do require a substantial investment, but allow for an even greater level of security. CyberLock keys can be assigned a begin date and an expiration date, meaning keys can be issued before the key actually works and be set to “expire” at a particular time in the future. When an employee quits and “forgets” to hand-in their key, it is useless after the operator sets it to expire from the CyberKey Base Station.
A further added value to CyberLock is its software. A record of all events is stored in both the locks and the keys. Each time a key is used at a lock, a record of the lock ID, date, and time is stored in the key, and a record of the key ID, date and time is stored in the lock.
There are also ways to minimize risk while using more traditional, mechanical locks. Quite simply, “make sure you control your keys,” said Wood.
It’s common sense, but he’s seen it many times: do not put your keys in a safe that everyone has access to. Have every employee sign keys in and out of the facility – keys should never go home with employees.
Wood also suggested operators change the combination to vault doors every six months and each time an employee quits or is fired. Also, the key to the safe should not be the same for the truck box.
Is your product storage area doubling as a money storage area? Consider installing surveillance cameras.
“There’s nothing wrong with surveillance in your own warehouse.” Wood suggested operators use DVR (Digital Video Recorder) instead of VHS, which cannot be digitally enhanced.
Advanced technology is making it easier to monitor employee behaviour within a vending organization. These seemingly overprotective measures are essential in an industry that is one of the most vulnerable to theft and vandalism.
Operators must always run their companies with security in mind, utilizing the technologies available and common sense practices that are easily overlooked during daily operations.
Remember, Wood summarized, having your own house in order and a little control can go a long way.