Webster Dictionary defines risk as: “the possibility that something bad or unpleasant will happen.”

In today’s business world, Risk Managers have many possible hazards to consider, including those of physical security.

Recently a car dealership in the St. Louis area was broken into and had two cars stolen, taken on joy rides and abandoned but luckily not abused. They called me in to look at designing and installing an Intrusion Detection System in multiple buildings. During our walk through the owner told me about the business, how they have been at this location for 50 years and that they never needed a “Burglar Alarm,” so sad but this is the world we live in. As we continued, I noticed that all the keys to all the vehicles hung on a peg board. All very nicely color coded and labeled with their parking location. I thought to myself, how convenient if someone breaks in they still can steal the most expensive assets of this company, the CARS. I finished the survey and designed the solution as we discussed.

My initial proposal was to install infra-red motion sensors, high-tech glass break detectors, cellular communicator, interactive keypads, all of which can be controlled by your smartphone. All of these features, which were requested by the owner, came at a surprising cost and not in the budget. So I ask, what is most important? They replied the employee and customer safety. Then I asked what was next most important? They said the cars.

That’s when I brought up the keys on a peg board. It was like an invitation to steal the cars. I suggested that maybe, like in nature, a simpler solution was better. How about we scale back (did I, a sales person, say that) for now and look at basic solutions.  Let’s secure the keys to the cars by putting in a minimal panic and perimeter detection system. This solution saved the customer a lot of money and time because we prioritized what was important. In the end the expensive high-tech system would not have solved the customer’s problem, the keys and cars would have still been vulnerable. As the business owner, it is important not to let your emotional reflex dictate an exaggerated response. As the salesperson, there is something to be said for being a “trusted advisor” help ferreting out the real issues.