Protecting your employees and business against armed robberies

OPERATIONS: Protect your investment and people with store safety policies

If handled correctly, selling and delivering pizzas should be a very safe job. Unfortunately, safety procedures are sometimes overlooked or not enforced as they should be, and the unthinkable happens.

If you invest some time in dealing with this issue proactively, you can make a big difference in the level of security at your store. At the very least, employees are more likely to continue working for you if they feel safe there.

Here are some simple tips to incorporate into your store’s safety policy.

  • Use security cameras. These are effective crime deterrents. There are plenty of places for crooks to rob that don’t have security cameras, so they’re probably less likely to bother  places that use them. Even a broken camera I had in one of my stores drew looks from a few suspicious-looking persons.
  • Have a well-lit store exterior. It increases the chance that a criminal will get caught in the act (on tape, if you use a camera) or identified by witnesses.
  • Limit the amount of cash kept on premise. Set a maximum amount of money you’ll keep in your till or register. Depending on your type of restaurant, that amount will vary, but in most every case, the lower the amount, the better.

If you offer delivery, your drivers should never leave the store with more than $20 or $30 dollars. Advertise that restriction as much as possible to let crooks know that a robbery of your drivers–which is a felony most everywhere–won’t yield much. Make note of this on flyers, hats, nametags and pizza boxes.

If a newspaper article about a driver robbery shows the thief only got $20 dollars from your employee, the rest of your drivers safe should feel safe for quite some time. But of course, if the opposite happens and a robber gets $200 or $300, you can expect more robberies to follow.

  • Have a policy of full cooperation with armed robbers. Once I saw a tape of a guy trying to rob a KFC with a golf club. Unwilling to cooperate with his demands, the employees wound up beating the crap out him–even pouring hot fryer grease on him.

Some time ago, a driver at a Domino’s Pizza in St. Louis refused to give up his pizzas when the crook put the gun in the driver’s mouth! To add insult to injury, instead of being praised for his courage, he was suspended for a week. The punishment seemed unfair, but it sent the right message: Headline-making heroics aren’t worth the risk.

  • Have all employees sign a copy of your safety and security rules. It’s a good way to make them pay attention to rules that may save their lives. It also gives you some liability protection.
  • Pay attention to landscaping. Avoid bushes or other structures close to any entrance of your store that might provide a hiding place for robbers.
  • Make the police visible by offering discounts. A police presence at your store is always a plus. We had a deal going at one store where we gave officers a free pizza if they’d do their paperwork in our parking lot while we did our closing paperwork. When we were done, they followed us to the bank to make our deposits.
  • Don’t close alone. You should always have at least two people closing the store and leaving together. If you are smart, there will not be much wasted labor. And if you follow rule #7 you can get away with ignoring this rule.
  • Keep the safe in the back. Large amounts of money should be out of sight and out of mind. All deposits and money handling should be out of view of the customer.

If you don’t have a safe with a timer on it, consider getting one.

  • Know your neighbors. Just as you would notice something funny at a business near your store, if something doesn’t quite seem right inside your store, the neighbors may notice it and call the police.

These are just some of the changes that you can make to increase the safety at your store. This small investment will pay big dividends.

By Jim Moran
Jim Moran is a pizza and restaurant industry veteran, and an industry consultant and speaker with Restaurant Trainers, Inc.

–Originally published at

Categories: Human Resources