How to choose the right security camera company.
By Alan Bacon
As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change. With rapid changes in technology and high turnover of office staff, “constant change” is inevitable. Changes can be difficult to keep up with if you always have to adapt to a new system, a new program, or implement a new management method. If you run a multi-site business, you know this is a reality!
One aspect of your multi-site business that should have continuity of operation is security. In fact, security camera systems can be a major asset to companies with multiple locations — if they are managed properly. Below are a few simple tips for better management strategies of your security camera systems:
Problem #1: Multiple types of equipment make it hard to use and manage your security equipment.
When a company allows managers or supervisors to make decisions regarding camera equipment being installed in different store locations, what you end up with is an assortment of equipment with different control platforms, and no one is really familiar with any of them. Nothing gets managed, and it gets “put off until later.”
Sometimes, the equipment is too old to work, or needs updated software, but because no one checks it, no one even knows it isn’t working!
Using the same type of system in each location will solve the problem of training, and user familiarity. If you want to be able to access your cameras and images from out-of-state locations, you will need the same type of DVRs, cameras and management software to view it. You want to make it easy for your management team to access and use the system, so you are not wasting your money. In order for security equipment to work, you have to be able to use it, view video and download video proof, when needed.
Problem #2: Many video surveillance companies sell outdated equipment to be able to mark it up and sell it to you — for a larger profit!
By choosing a company that won your “price bid,” you may be getting a low-budget camera with a refurbished DVR. You could also be buying a model that was discontinued 2 years ago, just to get that cheap price.
With security cameras and DVRs, there are so many variations. Technology quickly becomes outdated. The cheapest price won’t always bring you a good result. Small security companies rely on product sellers and distributors to show them what to use. They will rely on the manufacturer for supply and demand, not knowing first-hand what really works for long term use with your business conditions. (Examples: indoor camera placement, outdoor use, high or low temperature, low lighting, set-up angles, etc.)
Choose a security provider with a long business history, good customer track record and new equipment. Good equipment will pay for itself when it really works!
Problem #3: Choosing a security provider without national installation or service options.
For a multi-unit retail chain, the ideal situation is to use the same service provider for each store. You want to limit the learning curve with your management, so that the security cameras can be used. Who wants to re-learn a new system at every store? When security cameras are used effectively, the value is returned to you through prevention of loss.
It is advisable to use the same vendor for each location, who sells similar types of systems that are compatible with your business model. This makes product upgrades and updates much easier, as well as working out any technical difficulties, and/or managing the new user training. Having one company to call for technical support, and using one phone number for each location means it is much easier to use your security equipment, and manage company security. When you call your service provider, the technician on the phone will also know your business, and they will know how to help you. That is a real return of your investment.
Problem #4: Not getting the reliable service you were promised.
Security cameras are put in place as protection. They are for security and deterrence, but also for proof, if a crime is committed.
If something happens, you need to be able to call them and have the phone support you need, to provide the police with proof for their investigation. If your DVR has recorded video of the incident, you need to be able to give the police a copy of the video. You will also need a copy for any court cases that may follow. Do you know how to provide this, or will you have to call for help? Ask them: What is your system of response if something happens? How can you help me?
• They should be able to walk you through the steps of downloading information on the phone.
• They should be able to show you how to download and keep the video for future use.
Be sure to use a security provider that knows your type of business, and will be there when you need them. You will realize the value of reliable security equipment and their company staff in an emergency. Don’t wait until you need them. Take charge of your company security before you need it, so it’s there if you ever do!
— Alan Bacon is vice president and product developer for Marietta, Georgia-based Stealth Video, a national video security/CCTV business with systems in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Email the author at [email protected].