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Turning fear into power

The recent spate of attacks on jewellery stores and other retailers in Melbourne has understandably generated fear among some business operators; however, rather than letting this fear get the better of retailers, it is important to explore ways of channelling these energies into confronting fears.

The goal should be to respond in a way that gives a retailer greater strength and power … not less.

Fear is something that has gripped the world. Attacks in Nice, Paris, Berlin, London, Manchester and Barcelona have seen everyday people becoming the tragic victims of terrorist attacks, but there’s a powerful message to emerge following each of these attacks, and that is the collective strength of the community in confronting the fear of terrorism by getting on with their lives.

It’s something I witnessed for myself recently whilst visiting London’s Borough Market a few days after it re-opened following the recent attack. The streets, shops, bars and restaurants in and around the markets were abuzz with activity and people as they reclaimed an area that has been in operation for more than 1,000 years.

To me this represents a clear statement of strength and power among the community, just as the actions of the thousands who have taken to the streets in other cities affected by terrorism have done. As former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”

While on an altogether different scale and dimension, the recent spate of burglaries targeting the jewellery industry has been challenging and disturbing for store operators and staff. It is important to keep a sense of perspective on this issue – by and large we live in a society where crime is under control.

“Jewellers who have been the victim of an armed hold-up will attest to the enormous emotional and financial toll it takes on the business and employees; there is no room for complacency.”

Yes, from time to time we see flare-ups in some crime types in some areas but I want to stress that there is no need for panic or fear. Over recent decades we have seen many crime rates trending downwards as the community becomes savvier by embracing new security measures.

Take banks as an example. In the 1970s and 1980s criminals regularly targeted them; however, today one rarely hears of banks being the target of an armed hold-up. A key reason for this is that the banks have confronted the threats faced and put in place a range of measures – physical, electronic and environmental – to target-harden their operations and make them an altogether unattractive proposition for criminals.

I urge jewellers who have been the victim of a robbery, or know of a business that has, to try and channel this experience and knowledge in a positive manner. How can business operations improve?

Often applying a bit of common sense with a few changes on how a business is run, along with some investment in a security upgrade, can get retail owners back to focusing on what they do best – selling jewellery!

It is disappointing to see that security is far too often viewed as a grudge purchase that isn’t always paid the attention it requires. I’ll admit, I may be a little biased, but in all seriousness, isn’t security an integral factor in enabling a retail operation to be successful?

Jewellers who have been the victim of an armed hold-up will attest to the enormous emotional and financial toll it takes on the business and employees; there is no room for complacency.

Once retailers have got their heads around this, it’s important to understand that not all security providers are created the same – as with any industry, there are the good, the bad and the downright ugly. When looking for someone to assist with security, due diligence and seeking a quality provider is paramount.

One of my greatest frustrations is the shift towards a world where lowest price is the key driver rather than quality and value for money. This short-term outlook leads to a world where mediocrity becomes the norm. I’m sure readers have a similar view in regards to jewellery in the market.

So, the next time there’s a report on the news of a jewellery or retail store being the victim of burglars or armed attackers, ask yourself, what have I done to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to me? If the answer is ‘nothing’, then it’s time to confront any fears or concerns and do something about it.

Name: Bryan de Caires
Business: Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL)
Position: CEO
Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 17 years and six months

Independent Jewellers Collective (IJC)

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