(BPT) - For small business owners, preparing for the holiday season can be overwhelming. Many owners are finalizing business plans for next year, most are closing out financial reporting for the calendar year, and for those in retail, the hustle and bustle of the holidays presents a unique set of challenges and risks.

While dressing your windows and stocking up on inventory are important, it’s essential you optimize your insurance program, too. The most efficient way to do this is through an independent insurance agent, which also affords you the opportunity to support a fellow local businessperson.

Below are four holiday season risks you should discuss with your agent, with the goal of protecting the business you have worked so hard to build.

Holiday Help

One of the most common adjustments small businesses make during the holidays is enlisting seasonal help. You may be tempted to forgo your typical hiring practices, such as background checks or delivery driver training, in the interest of saving time or under the assumption that these team members won’t be with you long-term, but that would be a mistake. Many insurance programs offer discounts on background checks and driver safety training as services to their customers, so look into the options available to you.

Theft Alert

With increased sales, unfortunately, comes a corresponding increase in the risk of theft. In fact, this risk was identified by small business owners as one of the top five in the 2019 Small Business Risk Report from The Hanover Insurance Group and Forbes Insights. Day-to-day inventory and customer activity monitoring may fall to the wayside due to heavier foot traffic, longer lines and busy employees. Your agent can outline the theft mitigation insights and tips offered by your insurance program to get ahead of issues and holiday headaches.

Unexpected Accidents

Slip-and-fall accidents — and the litigation that accompanies them — are largely preventable. Weather conditions, drivers distracted by their shopping lists, and increased foot traffic can lead to more accidents during the holiday season. You can prepare your business with strategies like proper signage and maintenance adjustments, but also by taking preventative measures that are often recommended by your insurance agent or carrier.

Cyber Vulnerabilities

The 2019 Small Business Risk Report also showed that 67% of small business owners say they are more vulnerable to cybersecurity breaches as they transition their businesses to be more digital. On the positive side, experts are oftentimes available through your insurance provider to help with cyber risk management, focused on data breach preparation and remediation. If your small business offers customers an online experience, or if your customer and inventory management systems are cloud-based, take advantage of these expert insights.

As Small Business Saturday and the holidays approach, now is a great time to sit down with your local insurance agent to explore the options available. Consider it a gift that gives back … to your business and ultimately to your customers during the holidays and beyond.

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