Armed Robbery

Armed Robbery

My friends were held up at gun point in their home a week ago. The masked robbers came through a cracked window on the second story of their home. They said that they would "rape" someone if things didn't go as planned. These particular friends of mine run an engineering business, and luckily kept most of their cash in the bank (unlike some Zimbabweans who keep it under their flooring).

They ransacked the house looking for extra bits of money and valuable things in the house. While the thieves were rummaging through the house, our friends were forced to keep their heads under their bed covers, or else they would be shot. Somehow, they managed to make a call to friends up the street who then sent a whole army of workers with pitch forks and axes to the scene of the crime. [Side note: this is before the cops were called because most policemen would ask you to pick them up from their offices because they don't have vehicles, or if they do, they don't have fuel in them.]

The thieves vacated the property with money and gadgets just before the workers arrived. When my friend looked out the window to see if everyone was gone he saw the group of people that had come to the rescue. He thought they were the team of robbers and he flipped out for five minutes before the truth kicked in.

Here's the thing, burglar bars covered each door and window except for the small bedroom window that they came through. There was a flaw in the security—just one. And that's all they needed to get through. I don't have to tell you that a few days later that window is now secure.

The situation could have been worse, and it could have happened again if it wasn't addressed.

Sometimes, when you find a gap in what you're doing, a small flaw, you can often ignore it. At the time (especially in a startup), it doesn't seem that serious. When the gaps are exposed, it's good to close them. If there's a customer complaint, close the opportunity for there to be another one like it. There'll always be new gaps to close.

Create Recovery Systems Into Your Process

When thieves want what you have, they figure out how to break in when there are open gaps. This can be related to competition in business, especially your service chain.

Jim Niekamp from 95% Share Marketing says, "Find out where you're most likely to let your customers down, and then plan a recovery system. Like hotels, they know that their recurring problem happens when there's a double booking, so they've created a recovery system for when that happens. A room upgrade, a high-end dinner voucher, chocolate covered strawberries in the room with a 'forgive us' note."

My friends who had the break-in not only have barred up the window, but also they've put in other alarm systems and signals as recovery systems. If a thief wants to get in, any obstacle is only a deterrent. Close the gaps and create back up systems at all costs.

(photo via justus hayes)