5 Most Important Things to Consider Before You Buy a Small Business Security System

Business.com / Technology / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Do you know your options for a business security system? Do your research before you sign the dotted line.

As your small business grows, you’ll likely consider investing in a security system to protect employees, customer data, inventory, computers, and equipment.

While the advantages of having a business security system are many, it’s also a sizeable investment, so it’s best to analyze what you potentially need and how much you can expect to pay for each type of monitoring before choosing a provider.

Here are the five most important things to consider when choosing a security system to protect your business.

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1. DIY Installation vs. Professional Installation

Do you want to have someone come to your business and install a security system, test it for proper functionality, and ensure that the system is operational? Or, do you feel confident enough in your technological abilities to tackle installing the equipment yourself? For most wireless systems, DIY installation is a breeze, but it might be less of a headache to pay a professional.

This depends entirely on how protected you want your business to be, and how complex you want your permissions to be for employees. For instance, if you want to incorporate secure entry at each external door, or to limit access to sensitive areas inside the business that house data or products, it might be wise to hire a professional. This is a much more complicated process, and might require specialized equipment and additional wiring.

If you simply want to monitor your business with wireless cameras and sensors to keep out after-hours intruders and prevent theft, then it might be more economical for you to install the equipment yourself. Consider the time you’ll spend vs. the price you’ll pay for installation. Installation fees run anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars, so it greatly depends on the type of business property you’re securing and what equipment you require.

2. DIY Monitoring vs. Professional Monitoring

You also have the option to privately monitor your security system or pay a monthly fee to have it monitored professionally. If your business is very small, you may be able to effectively monitor it remotely by connecting the system to your smartphone or tablet. You can accomplish this by buying the necessary equipment online, installing it, and linking it your devices.

Professional monitoring is definitely the better bet if you’ll be using more than a few types of sensors, and more than one or two cameras at your property. Providers like FrontPoint and Protect America allow you to save money by installing equipment yourself, then having their technicians remotely test the system to make sure it’s operational. You’ll pay a fairly reasonable monthly fee for professional monitoring, and can still control your system and receive security alerts to your connected devices.

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3. Internal vs. External Security

Will your business require internal and external monitoring? Most security experts recommend external monitoring since it not only deters criminals from victimizing your business, but also aids in catching criminals after-the-fact. Internal cameras and sensors aren’t as necessary, but might prove helpful if your business involves expensive inventory that you’d like to secure from employees and visitors.

To get an accurate idea of how much you’ll pay for external monitoring, consider the number of external doors your building has, as well as windows and other points of access. You’ll want to secure all entryways with sensors, and monitor all doors with outdoor-grade security cameras, which have more built-in resistance to weather.

You can also choose to install motion sensors to alert you of any movement inside your business after-hours. One of the most economical and reliable types available are Passive Infrared Sensors, which detect body heat. Some security providers may also suggest ultrasonic, area reflective, or vibration. Vibration sensors are associated with the most false alarms since they can be easily triggered, so if you’ll be purchasing security equipment a-la-carte avoid this type of sensor.

4. Equipment Types and Quality

Besides motion sensors and internal and external security cameras, you can also choose from glass-break detectors, window and door sensors, and environmental sensors. Do your research, and know which of these you’ll need before contacting a security company or buying equipment for self-installation.

Glass break detectors are especially useful for retail spaces that include a large display window, or offices with glass sliding doors or picture windows. These sensors can detect strong vibrations that some window and door sensors might not pick up on, and are generally inexpensive. However, these won’t help you if an intruder picks a lock or uses sophisticated equipment to gain entry.

Window and door sensors consist of two interlocking pieces one that rest on the door or window, and one that remains on the frame. An alert is triggered when they separate when the system is armed, so this type of sensor combined with as glass break detector ensures that your doors and windows are absolutely secure.

Many security companies also offer smart environmental detectors that alert you of fire, flooding, and extreme temperatures. While protecting your business from theft is important, it will do no good if your building burns to the ground, or your product is damaged by water from a burst pipe. Also, think about less-common sensors like a carbon monoxide detector that will protect your employees during the day and maintain a healthy air quality in your retail space.

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5. Training and Employee Security Clearances

Once you choose the right installation, equipment, and monitoring option for your business, don’t forget to consider how you will train your employees to use the system, who will have access to restricted areas, and who will have the ability to arm and disarm the system.

If you are using a security provider and will purchase professional monitoring, make sure the provider will train your employees on how to properly arm and disarm the system, and educate yourself about what fees, if any, you might accrue due to false alarms.

Also, determine if you will need separate access codes for each employee. This is important because you will want to be able to grant and revoke access when you gain new employees or an employee moves on to work elsewhere.

The price of a business security system varies greatly based on factors like the location and size of your office or retail space, as well as what type of equipment and monitoring package you decide to purchase. It can be a large investment, especially if you decide to go with professional installation and monitoring, so it’s important to know what you realistically need and want before signing on the dotted line.

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