By Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media & SmallBizDaily.com
Theft on construction sites is a very real problem — and one that can quickly eat into your profit margins. Whether you work on residential or commercial projects, everything from wood and copper piping to tools and heavy equipment can become targets for thieves.
While insurance claims regarding metal thefts have been declining in the past few years, that doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Fortunately, taking some simple precautions can help prevent your business from falling victim to theft. Here are six simple ways you can protect your construction business.
1. Remove equipment from the job site
The simplest way to help deter theft is by removing equipment and materials from the job site when the workday ends. Whenever possible, your employees should transport tools and materials back and forth instead of leaving them at the construction site.
Try to schedule materials to be delivered on the day they are needed. If that’s not possible, you may want to have them delivered to your main facility rather than to the job site, so you can protect them more easily.
2. Educate employees on anti-theft policies
Of course, transporting equipment and supplies on a daily basis isn’t always practical. That’s why it’s important to make all your employees aware of the risks your equipment and materials face. Both employees in the field and those in the office have important roles to play in tracking and protecting machinery and materials.
Create strong anti-theft policies and make sure all employees are familiar with them. For example, require equipment to be locked in cabs during lunch breaks or at the day’s end. Letting your employees know there are consequences for failing to follow the policies can help prevent internal and external theft.
3. Tap into GPS technology
Installing security cameras or webcams or using drones are easy and affordable ways to patrol unattended construction sites, so you can see what’s going on day or night. There is a wide range of solutions that use GPS tracking to alert you when machinery or heavy equipment is moved from the site.
And when you choose time tracking software with GPS capabilities, you can even track which of your employees are on site at any given time. This can be useful if you suspect internal theft or need to identify witnesses to theft.
4. Deter would-be thieves with lights and signage
Sometimes, simply alerting criminals that you’ve got your eye on them can be enough to scare them away. For example, providing bright lighting for your construction sites at night can help deter thieves.
Signage warning that your construction site is under video surveillance 24/7 can also be effective in preventing crimes of opportunity. If you must leave valuable equipment or materials on-site, it may be worth hiring a security guard or installing chain-link fencing to protect the area.
5. Maintain detailed records of equipment use
Keep records of all the materials and supplies delivered to the job site, as well as which tools and equipment are used each day. Equipment should be checked in and out, and on-site supervisors should keep track of what’s being used and be able to identify who’s using it. Giving equipment and machinery specific tracking ID numbers can help you keep tabs on everything. You can also adopt mobile employee timesheets that can track equipment used during each shift to help you stay updated in real time.
6. Expect the best, plan for the worst
Even though you hope you’ll never need it, be sure to obtain appropriate insurance coverage for the theft risks that your construction company faces. An insurance agent specializing in the construction industry can also help you identify and mitigate potential risks to your business.
When it comes to your valuable equipment, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Being proactive can help keep your tools secure and your construction business thriving.
Rieva Lesonsky is the CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for free TrendCast reports.