Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Can a Business Just Say No?


“No shirt, no shoes, no service.” It is not uncommon to see signs like this marking a clear line when a business will refuse to serve a customer. But are there other times that a business can say no to a potential customer?

A recent court case highlights the potential risks. A New Mexico photographer turned down a job to take wedding photos. The wedding was a same-sex marriage and the photographer reportedly stated that she only did traditional weddings. The same-sex couple was quickly able to get another photographer, but then filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission.

The New Mexico courts found that the photographer violated anti-discrimination laws in turning down the job. Regardless of your personal views of same-sex marriages, it does pose a very real question about when businesses can say no to customers or situations that either go against a business owner’s personal beliefs or could be a situation that the business has other concerns.

In the case of a wedding, what if the couple was incorporating some type of satanic elements and the photographers were religiously opposed? Or what if the couple was Neo Nazi and the photographer did not want to be part of that ceremony?

Perhaps more typical, would be situations where a customer just seems too difficult or demanding and it seems like a better business decision to walk away rather than risk creating a bad business relationship. We have all seen on some level examples of businesses struggling to deal with a difficult or challenging customer. These could be on a large scale with big business operations or even small businesses turning down a single customer. In one case, a home estate seller walked away from a pending client after a brief argument about access to the home during the sale, leaving the homeowner high and dry. The estate seller apparently felt that the potential arguments and aggravation was worth less than the potential income.

The problem with turning a failed non-deal into an anti-discrimination case means that individuals who are told no could crowd the legal system with accusations of discrimination whether that was the reason or not. In the case of the photographer, the owner could have walked away and simply lied, stating that she was overbooked that date. By being honest, the photographer opened herself up to the anti-discrimination case. On the flip side, if the photographer had backed out for truly being overbooked or not available, the would-be customers could still file an anti-discrimination complaint, if the customers are considered some protected group.

This poses a very valid risk of false accusations and intrusive government compliance. More importantly, is the impact on the individuals who make up a business, especially small businesses. Ultimately, businesses are comprised of individuals with their own beliefs, values and sense of right and wrong. There will be grey areas, but businesses do not need more obstacles in the form of regulation and individuals, even as business owners, should not lose their rights or liberties.   

 

Get a Business Black Belt for your organization – visit www.businesskarate.com/karate-belts.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense. He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management. Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email Eric at businesskarate dot com.

 

 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at Eric at businesskarate dot com.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

5 Issues to Consider When Relying on Insurance For Security


There are times when I find myself amazed that I can still be amazed. After nearly two decades in law enforcement and security, I still see mopes and miscreants with some new twist on wrongdoing that leaves my head spinning. More amazing are some of the decisions made by otherwise intelligent and rational individuals. And I am talking about many of the leaders of the organizations surrounding us in our communities.

I recently heard one story of a large project in which security had been heavily considered throughout the planning and implementation. It was a surprise to the organization’s security leader to hear a side comment in a meeting about a warehouse full of expensive equipment, located off-site in a nearby city. When the security leader asked about the security of the location, it was mentioned that the building and equipment were covered by insurance.

It does beg the question of whether or not insurance truly equals security. True, security professionals are taught that insurance is one method to reduce or manage risks. However, even with the best insurance policy in the world, there are downsides of relying on insurance to recover any losses, whether due to a theft, vandalism or other disasters.

When deciding on the best approach to the risks, there are several issues to take into account and consider if you are going to rely on insurance as your risk management tool.

1.     Deductible. Clearly, the amount you would have to pay out for the deductible should be evaluated. For a commercial account, the deductible could be thousands of dollars. For some companies, a large portion is self-insured, meaning the loss could be tens of thousands or even a hundred thousand dollars, just in the deductible alone. That same money could be wisely invested in security measures that would limit or even eliminate the losses.


2.     Discounts. Often insurance carriers will provide discounts for having the right security measures in place. The savings help justify the investment.


3.     Time to replace. If critical items are stolen or damaged, it is important to consider the time involved in replacing those items. You may have to determine what was lost or damaged and there could be substantial lead time, especially if goods have to be customized or are shipped from overseas. How well can you manage without the merchandise that was lost and for how long?

 
4.    Availability of replacements. Time is not the only consideration with replacements. Sometimes, the materials are simply hard or even impossible to find. This will depend largely on the type of goods and industry. There are many industries where certain common goods may be tricky to obtain for one reason or another, or even there could be an all out shortage. Even if insurance covers the loss, you may have a difficult time actually replacing the stolen materials. There is also the time it takes to inventory what is left, place new orders and re-stock those goods, affecting the productivity of employees.


5.     Negative publicity. Depending on the type of organization you work for, there is a certain risk of negative publicity if certain materials are not available or on hand. Imagine a hospital dealing with the negative publicity due to a shortage of medicine like Tamiflu during the flu season, or even a shortage of saline solution (a very real problem). There have been cases in which schools were vandalized and had to close for a day or two while repairs were made. Insurance alone will not build confidence with customers or restore faith in the safety of the organization.

If you are in a situation where insurance seems like the right approach to dealing with the risk of losses, then be sure to truly evaluate and assess the potential downsides rather than just taking the easy path and hoping nothing bad happens.

Get a Business Black Belt for your organization – visit www.businesskarate.com/karate-belts.

Eric Smith, CPP is the leading authority on organizational self-defense. He has extensive experience in law enforcement as well as security management. Eric is available for staff education and security awareness training as well as business coaching to help organizations provide safe workplaces. To learn more email Eric at businesskarate dot com.

 

 

If you would like to reprint this post, please contact Eric at Eric at businesskarate dot com.