Your retail business is the culmination of your ambitions, hard work and desire to serve your customers. Without even realizing it, you probably naturally take precautions to protect the store you've created. But accidents, oversights, and thefts are all-too-common in the retail industry, which means even the most comprehensive line of defense may still leave your business exposed to risk.
Fortunately, your business insurance is the safety net that protects your store from the events outside of your control. Still, there are other risk-management measures you can implement to defend your retail store against uncertainty. Keep reading to discover how you can create a safe environment for employees and customers and protect the lifeblood of your store: your inventory.
Risk Management Tips for Retail Business Owners
As a retail storeowner, you know that theft — from a customer or an employee — is a prevalent risk in your industry. But there are other, less common risks to consider as well. Say, for example, one of your employees throws out their back while lifting heavy boxes of merchandise or supplies, or a customer trips over your welcome mat. It only takes one liability lawsuit to financially devastate your business if you don't have the appropriate coverage.
To help minimize some of these risks and safeguard against uncertainty, consult this risk management guide.
1. Put adequate security systems in place to prevent theft.
Retail stores face an ever-present concern regarding theft of their merchandise or inventory. Depending on what your store specializes in, the risk may be even more pronounced. For example, a fine jewelry shop's wares tend to be more at risk than a florist's inventory due to the nature of the goods. Regardless, burglaries and shoplifting happen all the time without rhyme or reason, so preventative measures are a must. Burglary alarm systems and security cameras to monitor customers and employees are two easy measures you can make to prevent theft or support your claim in the event that a theft has taken place. Some stores may benefit from electronic tracking devices on their items as well.
If your store has an online presence, you'll want to ensure the prevention of online data theft. This may include full disk encryption and hard-drive encryption, which prevent database hacking and safeguards sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, against theft.
2. Use appropriate signage to alert customers when the floor is wet.
Your store's General Liability Insurance can protect your business if a customer is injured on your property, but you should still minimize all foreseeable risks when possible. After your shop's floors have been mopped, be sure to adequately alert all those in that area of the slippery conditions. You'll reduce the amount of slips and spills that can later become a major legal burden for your business.
3. Be sure to take inventory on a regular basis.
Opening a retail store requires purchasing a large stock of items and replenishing these items frequently. And because your inventory is your livelihood, you'll want to manage the risk of losing inventory by implementing a routine verification procedure. Be sure to check your inventory at the beginning and the end of day to ensure that you are not losing revenue to employee or customer theft. To prepare your business for the worst-case scenario, you may want to consider a Property Insurance policy that insures your inventory at its full replacement value.
4. Protect your employees.
In the retail business, your employees are susceptible to slips, cuts, and physical strain. Be sure to help protect your employees by conducting regular training sessions on proper lifting and carrying techniques for heavy items. If they must use box-cutters, ensure your employees are trained in how to handle and store this tool. If your store carries any potentially harmful supplies, such as paint or jewelry cleaning solution, you'll want to make sure your workers know how to properly handle these materials if a spill should occur. You may even consider mandating closed-toe footwear and attire to minimize the risk of slips or clothing catching on equipment.
Additionally, you may be required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance, depending on where your store is located, as laws vary from state to state. If one of your employees is injured at work or has a work-related illness, this coverage compensates for medical expenses related to the ailment, and provides funding to defend your business if your employee decides to sue. Talk to your Insureon agent to learn more about your state's requirements for this coverage.
5. Drive with additional security.
If you or your employees travel in any vehicle other than company-owned cars to conduct business, you will need to take extra risk-reduction measures. All employees who drive personal vehicles to conduct company business should be properly licensed and have their own Auto Liability Insurance. Personal vehicles used on company business will also need to meet your state's safety requirements. In case an accident should happen while your employee is driving their own or a rented car for company business, Hired and Non-Owned Auto Insurance can supplement or replace a car rental agency's liability coverage or your employees' personal coverage.
6. Know what your policy does and does not cover.
Unfortunately, there's no such thing as "fully covered," even with the most comprehensive insurance policy. Each policy varies from carrier to carrier, and each comes with its own set of exclusions. It's in the best interest of your business to carefully read your policy and understand what your policy protects you against, what its limits are, and what it does not cover. Your Insureon agent can answer any questions you may have if you're concerned your coverage falls short of your business protection needs.
Keep Your Retail Store Protected
Alongside these risk-management measures, business insurance offers your store the extra layer of security it needs to truly thrive. After all, even the best-run retail stores can be the victim of a meritless lawsuit. If you need assistance in deciding the appropriate coverage for your shop, contact an Insureon agent today. We can help you find the policies that give you peace of mind and the confidence to grow your business.