Be at the Service of Customers by Maintaining Systems
Despite declining prices, electronics equipment continues to become more and more reliable. That might make some forget that most electronic security systems still need some level of care and feeding. This can range from simple cleaning and preventive maintenance to repairs, adjustments, relocation of devices and, other more complicated changes.
What isn’t quite as clear is the best strategy for ensuring that this work gets done quickly and effectively.
Determining who should perform this routine work on your system isn’t complex. There are really only three choices, and we’ll explore all of them in greater detail:
Outside party — A third-party servicing company will be happy to perform this work for you, for a fee. This can include the integrator that installed the equipment, another integrator or a third-party servicing company.
Dedicated person — Specialized requirements for reliability, or system size and complexity, often justify the use of a dedicated staff that can handle this work.
Shared responsibility — Perhaps there’s someone on staff that could pick up the responsibility, like a maintenance person. This is very much dependant on the size of the system and the workload of your staff.
One thing that is clearly not up for discussion is that the work must be done. There were good reasons behind installing electronic security, and they are all thrown to the wind if your system isn’t maintained.
Cameras that don’t work lead to lawsuits over injuries. Doors that don’t close or open properly are quickly defeated, leading to an “open campus” where anyone can come and go as they please. In most cases, the cost of not maintaining the system easily surpasses the cost of maintaining it.
Different Clients, Different Service
While the size and complexity of the system are determining factors, certain applications clearly have a greater sense of urgency. A shoe store may be able to function indefinitely with a few cameras out, and no one notices the failure until there’s a problem. A jewelry store, on the other hand, may not have insurance coverage if the system isn’t working and faces significant exposure every day.
For less critical applications, assigning part-time responsibility for the security system is a good alternative that works best when an integrator is kept involved. Electronic security products are getting simpler to install, maintain, and replace, and the average person can handle routine maintenance and moves provided they have the backup support when the problem gets beyond them.
If your application is one with a great emphasis on security coverage, your selection should be based on the fastest possible resolution to a problem. If you have a local integrator that is familiar with your system, it is often the best solution — provided it can respond quickly enough. If the workload warrants, a dedicated staff member who is “on call” has the advantage of covering you during off hours and won’t be tied up on another job when a crisis hits.
In most cases, it makes sense to maintain a good relationship with a local integrator. Even large casinos with a dedicated technical staff ensure that they have someone to call for backup. The local integrator can be your source for training, experience with other systems and emergency replacement parts when needed. It’s a very competitive environment out there, and most customers have little trouble finding an integrator that can accommodate their needs — provided they’re willing to switch if the quality isn’t there.
Be Open to Getting Additional Help
Sometimes it’s difficult to admit cases where the complexity of the system is beyond the abilities of the local integrator. If you find that a repair isn’t being done right after repeated tries — or the technologies you are using are beyond their grasp — it may be time to take some action. This can be the case with high-tech users, such as casinos with digital video recording, which are located off the beaten path.
What to do if you’re in that type of situation? Get the factory involved, asking that they send someone out to train your staff and/or the integrator. If needed, you can also switch integrators. Another alternative is to consider scheduling regular preventive maintenance and training with an integrator that specializes in your type of system but is located in a major market.
Whatever route you choose, it is vital to assign someone to take overall responsibility for the system. If you’re going to have a third party handle things, they must be called at the first sign of a problem. If it’s a part-time responsibility for someone, part of their checklist should include a daily or weekly verification that everything is in working order.
When a camera, door, or alarm point isn’t working, it’s amazing how Murphy’s Law can zero in on that area with almost surgical precision.
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