The loss of business equipment and property due to disaster, theft or lack of maintenance can end up in a huge range of replacement and lost opportunity costs. Business personal property can include a wide variety of items. Your computers, phones, and furniture are obvious examples, of course. And there is also your manufacturing equipment, vehicles, and any other tangible assets that are a vital part of your business and its day-to-day running.
However, there are some simple solutions. Regular maintenance, disaster planning, and loss control strategies are as plentiful as the events that can cause the damage. With this in mind, here are some key guidelines to consider for your business - let's take a closer look at how to protect your business equipment.
Get good with records
The first steps in keeping your business property safe are to understand what you own. So, make sure you are keeping an up-to-date inventory of your business equipment and property. You will need to do everything from maintaining receipts of purchase and create records of serial numbers. Make sure you have simple access to manufacturer’s information, too - it will come in handy when something suffers damage or ends up being stolen. Also, think about taking photos or videos of your inventory and store remote location - preferably off-site. If you ever need to make a claim on your insurance (more on which later), this will make the process easier and it can also help law enforcement when it comes to the recovery of stolen items.
Create a manual
OK, so now let’s take a quick look at what you need to include as a protocol - preferably in a manual that everyone can refer to. Ideally, this manual should include the following information. Start with explaining the purpose and organization of the manual, and include details on the crisis management hierarchy. You will need to discuss the chain of command, what people should expect, and also lay out the responsibilities of the team that you appoint. Then, move on to the most important part of the safety manual - describe your evacuation instructions, and explain where all of your alarm signals and exit routes are. Move on to the procedures involved with loss prevention - not forgetting about the human side of keeping people safe, of course. Also, include essential phone numbers, from the local police and fire stations to the contact details of senior management.
This speaks for itself - always insure your equipment, no matter how big or small, expensive or cheap. There's no need to spend too long on this - just do it. Your business could end up in serious trouble if you don't have coverage and your equipment fails.
Protect against power surges
Make sure you have protection and maintenance schedules for all of your electrical equipment. This should include data line connections, which should be protected against power surges which can have a devastating impact. It is vital to install surge protectors in the right way, so keep all of the cable lengths as short and straight as possible, and ensure plugs are completely pushed into their relevant sockets. It's a good idea to get in touch with a licensed electrician to ensure that your electrical system is completely safe, grounded correctly, and up to scratch for modern equipment.
Maintenance and preservation
Businesses can spend a huge amount of money on equipment. Take factories and manufacturing plants, as the perfect example. There is plant equipment on the factory floor, office computers, telephone switchboards and maybe even rooms full of databases, depending on the company size and scope. So, make sure that all of this gear is protected as much as possible. Machinery should be covered when not in use - covers for bellows, for example, can help keep dust, grime, abrasives, and liquids from causing lasting damage. Inspect equipment often and ensure everyone is following the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance practices - your equipment will last longer and be safer as a result. In the office spaces, place computers and other sensitive electronic office equipment up high - and use dust covers - to prevent problems if there is a flood or your premises suffers from a lot of dust in the air. And make sure that all laptops that are taken off-site have tracking technology on them, in the event of your equipment being stolen. Let’s get into the criminal aspect of things right now.
Protect against crime
You have to have some kind of loss prevention strategy in this day and age. And don’t forget that this includes data as well as physical items. Start by making sure your workplace and employees are up to speed with security procedures. Are people shutting windows and locking doors when rooms aren’t in use? Are they using secure passwords when accessing computer terminals and networks? Make sure your IT team is maintaining all your systems and keeping them up to date, and also ensure your computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets are protected with firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware software. Finally, perform regular stock checks to ensure you aren't suffering from theft.
Protect your records
Don’t forget that records - although simple - are actually an important part of your business property. Whether your records are data or physical copies and paperwork, you should store them in a secure location. Important documents and information such as personnel and vital records should be secured, too, with physical forms put away safely in a fire-rated file cabinet. Critical electronic files and equipment should be kept in specific areas where they can be moved quickly when necessary. If possible, save critical information on a compact disc or external storage device so you can retrieve it easily in the event of a rush or immediate disaster. Finally, it's a good idea to ship your data to locations off-site or in third-party storage facilities that are well clear and away from coastal areas, potential disaster zones and floodplains.
OK, so that just about wraps it up - hopefully, you can use this guide to protect your business equipment and property safe from theft, damage and poor maintenance. The costs involved to replace unnecessary losses can be exceptional, so please look after your gear - and your people!