Running a cannabis dispensary involves handling lots of cash and moving in-demand products, which increases your theft risk. It’s important to develop cannabis security procedures that will prevent both employee loss and robberies.
We recently had Tony Gallo on The Kaya Cast podcast to discuss security in the cannabis industry. Gallo is the Managing Partner at Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, one of the premier cannabis security firms in the country. He’s shared his experience with hundreds of dispensaries across the country, both directly and at cannabis conferences.
Gallo got his start in other cash-heavy industries like jewelry stores, pawn shops, liquor stores, and firearm stores before he moved to the cannabis industry 10 years ago. During that time, he’s worked with over 600 clients in 35 states, and none of them have ever had a robbery!
Here are some tips we learned from our interview about how to enhance your dispensary’s security.
While there are some high-level things you can do to make your dispensary more secure, Gallo also pointed out some small improvements that you can make right now.
When Sapphire Risk Advisory Group starts working with a new dispensary, they do a risk assessment to find security issues that might not have been noticed.
“We'll look at not only your physical security, but also your policies and procedures,” Tony told us. “We’ll talk to some of your employees. You'd be amazed how many times I've found windows that you can just open in the back room that haven't been secured!”
After their review, Gallo and his team will tell you about the deficiencies in your cannabis security system and give you recommendations on how to move forward.
You might be surprised that very few robberies and break-ins occur at cannabis dispensaries. While it’s important to secure your business against outside threats, the largest losses might be coming from inside your facility.
“If you look at retail as a whole, and cannabis follows suit, 80 to 90% of all the losses are internal. Either employees stealing or employees affecting the margin because they don't care about the business.”
There are many ways that employees could steal product from your dispensary. Tony Gallo said, “We've had employees that have under-rang sales for their friends, employees who have not rang any sales and pocketed the cash and allowed people to take it. People who have given out an abundance of free samples.”
To reduce this loss, develop policies and procedures that keep employees accountable and reduce the opportunity to steal. A cannabis security firm will have lots of suggestions to get you started.
Some dispensaries start out using gun safes, which Gallo strongly advises against. When looking at looting and robberies, in Gallo’s experience, all of the safes that were breached were gun safes.
“A gun safe is really just a metal box. It’s not really designed to prevent anyone from breaking in except, like, your son.”
If you’re looking for an alternative, Gallo recommends a TL Rated Safe, which are specifically for commercial businesses. These safes are made of steel that’s at least one inch thick, and they can withstand 15 minutes of break-in attempts.
Cameras are an important way to secure your dispensary, but they only work well if you manage them properly.
Gallo said, “I think when the industry first started, the philosophy was, if you could put a hundred cameras at your location, then you're secure. And that's a misconception.”
He recommends finding the best way to utilize your existing camera system instead of installing more cameras. Geofencing is a method that notifies you when someone enters a certain area of your dispensary. Real-time monitoring could also be appropriate.
One of the easiest ways to prevent your dispensary from becoming a target for theft is to maintain it on the outside. If your building looks run down and shady, thieves assume that your security on the inside is not up to par.
“In the over 2,000 armed robbery investigations I’ve conducted in my retail career, one of the overwhelming factors was when you pulled up to the location, it’s kind of sad and says, ‘We don’t care about our location.’”
Just cleaning your windows, creating nice signage, and fixing your parking lot can go a long way to secure your merchandise.
Overall, keeping your dispensary safe from internal and external threats is essential. If you’re looking for help, consider working with Sapphire Risk Advisory Group to conduct a risk assessment.
Listen to our full interview about cannabis security with Tony Gallo on our podcast Kaya Cast!
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