Practical lawn maintenance theft prevention tips to protect your business’s assets.

Hey Clippers! Dave Tucker here to talk about risk and prevention. 

Risk is inevitable no matter what business you’re in. Once you accept that truth, you can take very effective steps to prevent it.

When you’re in the lawn maintenance business, one of your biggest risks is theft. Because, sad to say, it does happen. Some people will do anything for money, and a stolen commercial mower can fetch one heck of a price. If you’re not careful, your equipment could disappear.

Thankfully, the CLIP community is full of experts who have learned a thing or two about theft prevention. We asked a few experienced lawn maintenance business owners for their best tips. Here’s what they had to say—and some of them may surprise you!

Lights, camera, action—or, rather, prevention.

Believe it or not, you can borrow a few tricks from a movie set to cut down on theft.

For starters, install a light on the property that stays on overnight. It’s a human psychology trick. People know when they’re doing something they shouldn’t be. And it’s a lot harder to follow through if they feel like someone’s watching. A well-lit property makes it much harder to hide criminal activity and will deter a lot of people from making bad choices.

Think about setting up a few cameras, too, maybe by the front door and the equipment storage area. If you’ve got computers, put a camera near those as well. And here’s a little secret: They don’t even have to be working cameras. All you have to do is make them visible and point them out to your workers. They have no way of knowing whether the cameras are actually working, and they probably won’t want to risk it.

One more effective prevention tip: If you’ve got a fence around your property, put barbed wire or razor wire on top. It’s not the prettiest solution in the world, but it sure does work. Very few people want to risk climbing over that!

Don’t give out your keys.

Anyone can march into a hardware store and get a copy of any key, no questions asked. And if someone untrustworthy has a set of keys to your business? There’s no telling who might simply let themselves in through the front door.

Make sure you’re the only one with keys to the office, the shop, the garage, and anywhere else. This is especially true in the early days of your business. There may come a time when you’ve got a right-hand worker you really trust. But until then, it’s okay to keep the keys to yourself. In fact, it’s probably best.

Put your name on it.

It’s true for your kids’ socks at summer camp and it’s true for your lawn maintenance equipment. Put your name on it, and you’re less likely to lose it.

For some of your gear, like rakes and shovels, permanent markers are just fine. But for mowers and other big stuff, consider getting them engraved. It’s not as expensive as you’d think, and it can really save your bacon. Let’s say your stolen mower ends up in a pawn shop. If your name is on it, the shop will probably call you before they sell it. You get your equipment back, and they might tell you who brought it in, so you can act accordingly.

A very unusual solution

This one’s a little unusual, but it’s too brilliant not to include. One CLIP user offered up his property to the local police department to use for training their dogs. There was no set schedule, and cops work unusual hours, so they’d often be there after dark or on weekends.

This fellow does recommend putting up a few signs to let people know what’s going on. He also told his workers not to come back at night if they forget something at the office. It was for their own safety.

It’s a unique approach, but it sure works. Can you imagine better prevention than a bunch of cops and trained German shepherds out front, at odd hours?

This story is a great example of one of my favorite business topics: creative problem-solving. The basics are great, of course, but unusual solutions can be very effective! 

Now I’d love to hear from other lawn maintenance business owners. What are your best tips and tricks for theft prevention? Tell us in the comments!