Reduce Safe Costs by 45% with 7 Simple Steps.


It’s 11 PM and one of your restaurants is ready to close but can’t open the safe.  What a headache!  Repairing a safe is expensive in both money and time.  The first hour can cost $225 and often doubles afterhours.  Then there are the soft costs of managers/employees spending hours trying to coordinate a safe repair; business interruption and increased risk to unprotected assets.  There is a better way.

The majority of expensive safe repairs are completely preventable with a preventative maintenance program.  Below are 7 simple steps that lower cost of safe ownership by 45%.

Change Your Batteries Often.   Fresh batteries are the most simple and critical component to preventative maintenance.  When a safe fails, replacing the batteries is either the solution itself or the first essential step in troubleshooting.  Not changing batteries on a regular schedule means that you will either pay a technician a hefty amount just to change the battery or pay soft costs in managers leaving the restaurant to purchase cheap batteries at a convenient store.

It is important to change batteries according to a defined maintenance schedule to prevent battery failure.  Replace batteries only with high quality batteries as they are the most reliable and have the longest shelf life.  Schedule battery changes every 3 months if safe is opened over 30 times a day.   If you are changing batteries more than every 3 months, an alternative is a continuous power source and use batteries as a back-up.  If a safe is opened less than 30 times a day, schedule battery changes every 6 months.  Always pay attention to low battery signals before the battery goes out.

Check Door Cords.  Door cord damage (from an electronic lock) is the second most likely reason for safe repairs.  Door cords can get smashed into the door jamb and often go unreported.  If damaged door cords are left unrepaired, your safe may not open which requires a full safe drill – the most costly of safe repairs. Drilling a safe can cost from $300 – $750 during normal business hours and doubles afterhours.  Check door cords every three months for wear and tear.   If you find damage, get this fixed immediately.  Replacing a damaged door cord is a fraction of the cost of a safe drill.

Check your Handles. Turning the handle to open your safe should be smooth and easy.  If you have to force the handle this usually indicates a bigger problem inside your safe.  Safes are designed to have handles break off in the case of a safe malfunction to keep out criminals.  So if your handle is sticking, this can indicate an issue in the safe itself and the handle may break off if untreated.  Immediately repair handles that stick.  Much like a car repair, the longer a repair signal is ignored, the higher the cost of repair.

Open and Close the Door.  Your safe door should be easy to open and close.  If opening or closing are difficult this usually indicates that the bolts are not retracting properly or that the safe door is sagging on its hinges.  Left untreated, bolt and hinge repairs are costly because they usually lead to a safe drill or replacing the hinges when permitted, as most hinge failures lead to the purchase of a new safe.  To prevent door problems, make sure that door jambs and opening are free of debris like paper clips, pens, rubber bands etc.   Also make sure that employees or objects do not lean on or hang from the safe door.

Read the Instruction Manual.  Restaurants are notorious for higher turnover so tracking and enforcing code management on a regular basis keeps your restaurant secure.  Don’t rely on solely changing your alarm system code to keep ex-employees away from assets.  Always know how to change the codes on your safe when employees leave.  The most important actions to know from an instruction manual are enrolling a new user; deleting a user; changing codes and changing the time delay.

Anchor your Safe.   This is the simplest way to prevent your safe from being carried off by an intruder or burglar.  Bolt your safe to the floor using holes underneath or in the back of the safe.  In high-crime areas, use a Security Installation Platform to anchor your safe.

Check your Combination.  Manual Combination locks should still work if dialed within a half point both higher or lower.  If you combination lock does not function a half of a point higher or lower, this indicates that your combination lock is out of balance and needs serviced. Service this immediately to prevent a lock out, which most often requires a safe drill.

Make Preventative Maintenance part of your Quality Control Process quarterly and you will reap benefits in both lower cost of ownership and increased security.

Quick Safe Checklist:

  1. Change your batteries least every six months.
  2. Ensure door cords are not getting smashed and is free of wear and tear.
  3. Ensure handles should turn smoothly
  4. Ensure door opens and closes smoothly – No sagging or dragging.
  5. Clear door opening of debris.
  6. Anchor your safe
  7. Check your manual combination lock


Written by Keith McCuen


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