Rethinking Business Security for the New Normal
By: Jon Polly | Mar 06, 2023
Sustained growth year over year by almost 50%. By any metric, that number is astonishing. What if, however, these metrics pointed to a rise in physical security incidents that post-pandemic businesses have experienced? Pro-Vigil’s The State of Physical Security Entering 2023 report points to this fact. The report states there was a 20% growth in physical security incidents in 2020, a 28% growth over that in 2021, with 2022 matching the 2021 growth. Business owners are afraid that 2023 will be even higher.
Businesses have had to pivot, jump, and do somersaults to compete in the marketplace. With this extracurricular movement, business owners have been unable to protect themselves against physical security incidents. The primary reasons fall to employee turnover and shortages, supply chain concerns, and businesses being targeted.
During the height of the pandemic, practical ways to prevent security incidents, such as using a security system or transferring the risk to a guard services company, were no longer viable options. Both options mentioned took a significant sucker punch while those businesses themselves were trying to regain footing.
Businesses in 2022 faced increasing odds that no one could have expected or planned for properly. A year that had a culling of the workforce, where over 55% of business owners advertised “help wanted,” according to the NFIB December Jobs Report. The workforce, however is not unemployed, with a national unemployment rate of 3.4%, as of January 2023. Talent is still employed, but many people have found remote positions or have entered the gig economy. The key reason for this shift was that many workers found working from home kept them from wasting time commuting, saved money on gas, and allowed them to be able to spend more time with family. All while making more money even though potentially taking a pay cut.
While some of these jobs are admittedly low-income, most companies are looking for talent across the skillset spectrum with limited skilled applicants. This has forced many (44%) business owners to raise compensation to attract the talent needed to do business. This overhead expense cuts into other needs, such as increasing the security posture.
Guard service providers are also finding it difficult to retain talent and sell their services to customers. This has forced a price hike for businesses willing to pay for guard services. Many are receiving a thinly stretched guard force as service providers attempt to provide equal services to all businesses.
Supply Chain Woes
Aside from maybe a handful of inveterate Preppers – a person who believes a catastrophic disaster is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, stockpiling necessary supplies, the supply chain woes that are being experienced to this day could not have been foreseen. And to experience supply chain issues 12-18 months past herd immunity is confusing, yet here we are. Major technology companies are still fighting 20+ week lead times to manufacture their technology. This means that even if a business owner wants to buy a security solution to protect their business, they may be waiting a significant wait time.
Organized and Un-Organized Crime
Brian Sozzi at Yahoo! Money reported that last year, the big box store giant Target reported that inventory shrinkage — or the disappearance of merchandise — has reduced its gross profit margin by $400 million. According to Sozzi, one of the main reasons is the increase in organized theft due to the rise of e-commerce.
The large box store retailers were not the only organized crime victims. The term smash and grab took on a new meaning for many in the retail industry. It also took on a new meaning to the boldness of flash mobs participating in the free-for-all thefts. During the 2021 holiday season, many videos and images filled news stations each night, showing outlandish thefts where entire stores were cleared out in seconds. Police Departments and security industry insiders found that many of these flash mobs were instigated by local organized crime rings to cause destruction and despair while members of the crime family strategically entered for one or two specific targeted items.
Retailers and small businesses were not the only ones affected by flagrant thefts. Car dealerships and auto mechanics were forced to deploy new security methods to prevent catalytic converter thefts, a practice that may have started with organized crime but has since influenced a new breed of amateur thieves. A single catalytic converter has 3-7 grams of platinum, 2-7 grams of palladium, and 1-2 grams of rhodium. These three precious metals can net thieves anywhere from $100 to $1000 per catalytic converter.
New Roads to Security
To protect against these security incidents, business owners have had to get creative. According to the Pro-Vigil report, 47% installed security cameras, although many may have settled for technologies that are sub-par or subject to vulnerabilities. Many of those decided something is better than nothing and have resorted to warehouse stores or online marketplaces to source Do-It-Yourself security solutions, hoping that a little is enough. Security fencing sales increased. Robots and remote guard service monitoring centers got a boost of investment money to offer businesses the deterrence of an onsite camera with the response of a person actively calling the police. Thinking outside the traditional security box, companies like Action-CS out of Washington State found success with a catalytic converter NAS Cat Guard and Active Deterrence to monitor dealership vehicles, protecting against vehicle and catalytic converter theft.
According to the Pro-Vigil report, 90% of businesses polled believe they will experience as many if not more physical security incidents in 2023. Yet 42% of their respondents said they did nothing to boost their security posture in 2022. In short, the trend does not appear to be stopping, and business owners must keep their employees, customers, and merchandise secure, or they will cease to be in business. The traditional ways of security may no longer be a viable option for some.