Car Dealership Test Drives Remote Services

Car Dealership Test Drives Remote Services

Thousands of dollars at stake, including parts and equipment

Car Dealership Test Drives Remote ServicesShiny new and gently used vehicles are valuable retail assets that most auto dealerships leave on display outdoors both day and night. Needless to say, the auto industry faces a unique challenge in securing retail facilities and merchandise. And in addition to expensive automobiles, most dealerships store thousands of dollars in automotive parts and equipment that support customer care and repair service operations in dealership garages.

Securing and monitoring two distinct facilities or functions of a car dealership to protect against theft and vandalism is a challenge for dealership managers. However, thanks to the latest in security technologies, it is not impossible. Dealerships must ensure that car lots and showrooms inviting to customers, and their facilities must be accessible to employees who help run the service departments and maintenance facilities. Sales people need convenient access to the showroom and vehicle keys. Service technicians, service writers and parts department personnel need easy access to the service center, garage bays and parts storerooms.

Juggling customers’ and employees’ needs for accessibility to the dealership requires managers to extend a significant amount of trust to their staff. Managers simply cannot watch what is going on in and around the dealership 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Traditional monitored access control, intrusion and video surveillance systems are designed to work quietly behind the scenes. The primary responsibility of these systems is to deter, alert and document an intrusion. They were not originally designed to deliver real-time updates or be monitored remotely by users. Advancements in remote services technology, however, is changing this and placing control of traditional security systems into users’ hands.

Remote services make it possible for users to control and monitor their security systems from any Internet connected device, including smartphones. Recognizing the benefits remote services could provide its customers, Scanner Technologies of Mineola, N.Y., became an early supporter of the technology.

“Our society is very mobile literate and people have become accustomed to the accessibility their smartphones provide them,” said Ed Savarese, senior technician at Scanner Technologies. “This has translated into security system owners, both residential and commercial, wanting more mobility from their security systems.”

Remote Services Deliver Greater Mobility

As an early adopter of remote services, Scanner Technologies was prepared to respond to a request for proposal from Van Buren Buick GMC, an automotive dealership in Garden City Park, N.Y. Van Buren was in the beginning stages of remodeling its showroom and wanted to upgrade its legacy security system to a modern integrated system.

“The biggest pain point with our previous security system was accessibility,” said Rick Volpe, dealership director at Van Buren Buick GMC. “Accessing the system to pull reports, adding or removing an access code, or even verifying an incident required me to be physically present at the dealership.”

Van Buren’s previous security system was a standalone intrusion detection system. It was affective for alerting management to a break-in but it wasn’t capable of delivering real-time information. The only actionable data the system could provide was a report showing who activated and deactivated the alarm and when. From the report Volpe could see if the dealership was opened late, and if the alarm was activated or deactivated afterhours. The problem Volpe had with the report was it was delivered weekly and required a significant amount of time to read.

“After hearing the pain points Van Buren had with access to their previous security system and reporting delays, we knew right away remote services would be a great fit for them,” said Savarese.

Scanner Technologies developed a proposal recommending a complete upgraded of Van Buren’s existing security system and the installation of a new intrusion detection system, as well as a video surveillance system utilizing Honeywell Total Connect™ Remote Services. The new security system would give Van Buren’s management team the ability to control and monitor the system remotely from any Internet connected device, including smartphones and tablets.

Readying Remote Services for Commercial Use

“Remote services were originally designed for the residential market but they are also well suited for small video installations at commercial facilities,” said Savarese. “The system we installed supports up to six cameras per deployment but more cameras can be easily added.

Working together, Van Buren and Scanner Technologies determined two zones of six cameras with sightlines of the car lot, showroom floor, service center, service desk and parts department would provide sufficient coverage. To install the cameras and intrusion detection sensors, Scanner Technologies worked alongside the building contractor remodeling the dealership.

“As certain sections of the dealership were finished, we would follow right behind running cable, installing intrusion sensors and cameras,” said Savarese. “It took us about two and half months to complete the installation.”

Scanner Technologies used commercial analog cameras to provide enhanced image clarity and theft deterrence. To make the cameras work with Honeywell Total Connect, Scanner Technologies installed analog converter units (ACUs). The units convert analog transmissions to the IP digital signal required to enable remote viewing and control of the camera feeds.

“Having access to the security system from my iPhone and iPad has been extremely beneficial,” said Volpe. “It has given me the peace-of-mind that I can check in on the dealership at any time and from anywhere.”

Another benefit of Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services is that it delivers real-time alerts via email and text message to the user, a feature that has increased Volpe’s visibility into the dealership’s daily activities. Instead of waiting for the weekly report, he receives instant activity alerts to his email and iPhone.

“Every time the security system is armed or disarmed I receive an e-mail notification of the activity to my phone,” said Volpe. “This is incredibly beneficial because I know when the dealership has been opened and closed. And if its afterhours and I haven’t received an alert the security system has been activated, I can quickly pull up the camera feeds on my phone to check that everyone has left for the night and arm the system.”

Shortly after the security system was installed, the dealership had a window shattered late at night by a pebble thrown from a vehicle’s tire as it drove by. By having remote access to the video surveillance system, Volpe was able to verify the incident from his house. With the previous security system, he would have had to go to the dealership to confirm what had happened.

In the morning, Volpe found the incident was captured by a camera positioned in the showroom, providing him with confirmation on how the window was broken.

“Discovering that the window was broken by accident, and not an act of theft or vandalism provided me with peace-of-mind,” said Volpe. “Not knowing what caused the window to break would have left me wondering.”

In his 35 year career, Volpe has never had to address an instance of theft or vandalism but he understands the value of being prepared.

“Upgrading our security system was an investment in the future,” said Volpe. “We’ve been very fortunate not to have had instances of theft or vandalism in the dealership’s 78 year history, and I want to keep that streak intact.”

Investing in the Future

The benefit Van Buren has seen from the video surveillance system has led them to upgrade the security systems across their dealership network. In addition to Van Buren Buick GMC, the family-owned dealership owns and operates Van Buren Trucks in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Later this year, Scanner Technologies will begin upgrading the security system at Van Buren Trucks installing Honeywell Total Connect to integrate the system with the remote access capabilities already installed at Van Buren Buick GMC.

“I’ve bench tested other remote management solutions, and Honeywell Total Connect works flawlessly,” said Savarese. “It truly gives my clients control of their security systems as if they are right in front of the keypad from anywhere, view user activity and see live video feeds. I’ve the remote capabilities to be especially beneficial for my customers with multiple offices to stay connected to their security systems.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Security Today.

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