Small Businesses Must Sell Security to Their Employees & Customers

What can a small business person do to “sell” security to employees and customers who don’t like being inconvenienced? Here are a few ideas


Security, I’ve often told people, is the antithesis of convenience.

Having performed security work for more than 36 years while in the U.S. Navy and later as a Defense Department civilian employee, I’ve had to contend with many of my “customers” who were not at all happy with the inconvenient security procedures I installed – even though those procedures ultimately aided in the unhappy employees’ well-being.

While giving crime prevention and security awareness talks to groups of small business people, I’ve often heard two complaints about security. One, they can’t afford better security, and two, both their employees and customers complain about intrusive security measures.

Even in this age of global terrorism and increasing violent crime, employees and the general public don’t like to be inconvenienced. People have short memories and even shorter attention spans, it seems to me.

So what can a small business person do to “sell” security? As small business people, you generally don’t have a staff security officer and you probably don’t have a public relations person. Yet, I believe you have to not only install security measures to protect your business, your employees and your customers, you also have to sell security.

Selling, I would think, is the one thing small business entrepreneurs can do rather well.

Business people should use selling and public relations techniques to increase security awareness for employees and customers. You can enlist or “deputize” your employees and customers to act as the “eyes and ears” for your business.

There are a good number of government resources you can use as selling aids. You can obtain government posters, flyers, articles and alerts (free of charge) and place them on your windows, bulletin boards, web pages and in-house publications. You can also print security messages along with your company logo on posters, coffee mugs, tote-bags and T-shirts.

Public speakers from the local police, FBI and other federal government agencies are available (again, free of charge) to speak to your business watch or business association. There are also a good variety of public speakers (like yours truly) who will speak to groups for a small fee.

Even a small business with only a couple of employees or family members can informally “talk up” crime prevention and security awareness issues with your employees and customers. I’ve addressed many small groups in cozy settings as well as packed-house auditoriums.

I try to use humor as much as I can, such as telling stories about dumb criminals. I once addressed a group of government employees and advised them not to flash cash or wear expensive jewelry while traveling overseas. As underpaid government employees, I noted, that should not be a problem. That got a good laugh.

Although I advocate the need for increased security awareness, I should add that it is equally important to stress that your employees not treat customers like potential terrorists and criminals.

Lastly, I’ve always thought it was good to catch them young. Host a small event for the children of your employees and customers. Take Your Daughters to Work Day, which rolls around each April, is a good time for you to have a speaker in to address security awareness for both the kids and their parents.

Your employees and customers surely don’t like to have to wait to be buzzed in to your business — especially in foul weather — but if you take the time and effort to sell the reasons for this and whatever security measures you have in place, they may understand and accept the necessary inconvenience.

Your profit for selling security may be not be listed on the bottom line, but can you put a price on the security and safety of your family members, employees and customers?

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