Video Surveillance Emphasized as Integral to Car Wash Patronage

A trade publication reports on the important role video surveillance systems can play in creating a safe, welcoming environment.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – An article by Carwashing & Detailing magazine highlights how video surveillance systems can play an fundamental part in helping carwash operators create a more comfortable setting for patrons. 

The trade publication reports when customers feel at ease, they feel welcomed at a carwash. Many things including location, décor, staff, reliable equipment, building design and more can contribute to a patron’s comfort at these businesses.

Another aspect that adds greatly to the customer experience is security. While some carwashes overlook it, the right system should be an integral part of any wash business, the magazine reports. Security systems can also help to build a loyal base of customers who visit a wash frequently because they feel they are part of a safe, inviting environment.

“Having a good surveillance system in place can help you make sure you are not losing product, [or experiencing] theft of money by employee [or] vandalism,” Mike Dalton, an agent with American Heritage Insurance, told the magazine.

Keep employees in check
According to Matt Hord, training consultant with Brink Results LLC, theft and vandalism are the two main issues facing today’s carwashes, the magazine reports. These crimes are not limited to outsiders, however. Employees can also be the culprits of missing cash. Carwash cameras can more than catch dishonest personnel – they can help to ensure workers perform well on the job.

“Cameras can also help with employee accountability,” Hord said. “When employees know that their actions are being recorded, it makes them less likely to put in less than full effort on the job.”

For Scott Duffy, vice president/general manager with Image Vault LLC, consumer and employee safety, damage claims and cash shrinkage are also major problems carwashes face. One technology allows store managers to work with centralized loss prevention groups.

“This group relies on individual store managers to segment out suspect transactions captured on video,” Duffy told the magazine. “The store managers then deliver a minimal set of actionable items to the loss prevention group.”

Video can be integrated with a carwash’s point-of-sale system, Duffy said. This can greatly reduce the amount of time required to view the video if something happens, increasing efficiency.

Additionally, systems can operate with sophistication that allows the system to sync captured video with metrics such as audio and receipt data. This way managers can better monitor money handling by searching for transactions.

“Transactions can be monitored for not only external shrink (theft and burglary), but also internal shrink where an employee is taking money out of the till and putting it in their pocket as they perform a transaction or ‘void’ a transaction, or ‘sweetheart deals’ were an employee extends a ‘discount’ or ‘free’ wash to a friend or someone who is not eligible (e.g. police cars are free),” Duffy said.

Shed some light on safety
“One of the most overlooked aspects of carwash security is lighting,” said Hord.

A well-lit property helps deter thieves and vandals from the property at night, Hord explained. It is important to have lighting in the wash bays, at the vacuums and near bill changers and vending machines. Bright, clean lighting can especially help self-serve customers who want to wash their vehicles at night, Hord said. Another way to secure a carwash during the evening hours is to use enclosures that close and lock pay stations at night.

Lighting can also contribute to the efficiency of security cameras, which are an essential part of any security program. Duffy agrees that lighting is often snubbed, as well as the number of cameras plus whether to use analog versus high-definition cameras.

“Low light is a common issue within carwashes. It should be improved [to elevate] consumer safety and to increase video [quality],” Duffy said.

For Hord, the largest benefit cameras provide carwashes is reduced damage claims. Cameras should be placed strategically around a wash to confirm or disprove claims a customer may make regarding the condition of his or her vehicle. Duffy recommends several cameras be installed at the entrances and exits of the wash, plus a few should be located inside the wash bay.

“This allows for the possibility of detecting previous damage to a vehicle upon entry into a carwash bay, captures damage as it happens within the bay, or [it] captures suspect activity occurring inside or outside the car as it moves through the wash,” Duffy told the magazine.

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