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Safeguarding Your Business This Holiday Season

Proactive risk management is non-negotiable for any business owner, but more so as the end of year approaches and businesses get ready to close shop for the holidays. It is imperative that owners do as much as they can to safeguard their operations while they are away. 

Sean Harper from Santam’s Risk Survey Department says, “The best thing businesses can do is to ensure that they have proper maintenance programmes in place, to ensure they catch the bulk of what could go wrong before it does. In that way, you minimise the risk of having insurance-related difficulties should any eventualities occur.” These plans should not only include things that need to be repaired or replaced, but also include servicing and maintenance of fire protections, as well as the weekly, monthly, half yearly, and annual checks and maintenance requirements.

To help businesses mitigate their festive season risks as much as possible, here’s a checklist to ‘tick off’ before going on holiday.  

  • Speak to your intermediary to ensure your covers are correct. This should be done well in advance of the shutdown period. Ensure all valuations are up-to-date and adequate to avoid shortfalls at claims stage.
  • Make sure that all alarms are tested and appropriately serviced. In fact, it is a good idea to replace the alarm battery and have back-up power generation capability as loadshedding is a ‘norm’.
  • Have a security guard on the premises if possible.
  • Remove valuables from plain sight and move them into locked storerooms or strong rooms.
  • If you must leave electronic equipment in the office not locked away, make sure it is cabled and locked down. Don’t lock it to the leg of the table! It is easy to lift the table and slip off the cable and walk away with the computer.
  • Make sure that all data is backed up.
  • Make sure that all fire protections are serviced and tested as required.

Check Up On It:

It is always a good idea to have someone come in periodically to make sure that everything is in order. According to Harper, that person should have a documented plan and a checklist that includes the following things:

  • Make sure all taps are properly closed and that there is no plug in the drain. Flush all toilets to check that there are no blockages and to allow for clean toilets on return.
  • Closing the taps to the cistern may also help reduce flooding and excess water bills if the float valve fails.
  • Turn off any unnecessary electricity, including geysers and anything else you can think of, as this will reduce the likelihood of shorting and surge damage. It also has the added benefit of saving on the electricity bill. Remember the alarms and security systems need electricity to function.
  • Empty all dustbins because this reduces the fire load and can prevent some nasty surprise smells on your return.
  • Close all windows and blinds; most theft incidents are opportunistic and if the perpetrator can’t see if there is something valuable to take, they will more than likely move to an easier target. Consider investing in devices that, when triggered, emit a non-toxic smoke. These also go a long way to preventing perpetrators from finding and taking items.
  • Don’t forget to activate your alarm!

Thanks to the Internet of Things, there are many smart devices that could also provide some forewarning in case things go south. For example, something as simple as a water flow detector, which will automatically shut off the water if a flow is sensed, and then send you a notification. In the long run, many smart devices are relatively cheap and easily integrated into Google. They also allow you to control them from anywhere with Wi-Fi, which means you can keep an eye on things while you are away. 

Always Have A Plan:

The most important thing is to have a plan. All the checklists and smart devices in the world are only good if you have the necessary plans in place to benefit from them.

Harper concludes, “Documenting your maintenance plan and doing monthly inspections to see what needs to be added to the list is key. This only works if this is a living document.  All too often business owners start this but get so caught up in day-to-day affairs that they forget to keep it going until it’s too late. Setting time aside and sticking to the routine will help to identify issues before they cost a fortune to repair or fail to activate when needed. Ensuring insurance is up-to-date should be a critical part of the checklist.”