Consumers Demand Mobility

Consumers Demand Mobility

Drive underway for Web-based security

Ask any long-running business in any industry about the key to longevity, and it’s a fair bet that most will list good customer service at the top of the list.

Being able to change with the times in order to achieve that level of customer service is likely somewhere up there, too. John Betlem Heating and Cooling in Rochester, N.Y., knows all about those two keys. The company recently celebrated 70 years in business, a long tenure defined by the company principle of doing “whatever it takes.” In the case of upgrading its security operations, doing whatever it takes meant migrating to the Web to achieve greater mobility and remote monitoring and control capabilities—all to keep up with evolving customer (and employee) needs, lifestyles and demands.

Demand for Service

If there’s one thing that consumers have a great demand for, it’s fast service when it comes to heating, air conditioning and anything else related to indoor air quality and comfort. Quite simply, it’s one of the furthest things from a nine-to-five job.

“They’re really open 24/7,” Todd Julien, Doyle Security director of sales, said of Betlem. “The storefront is just nine to five, but they’ve got some real needs at night.”

The company supports nearly 12,000 customers in Rochester and its surrounding areas with services ranging from furnace and air conditioning installation to indoor air quality with duct cleaning and UV lights as well as boilers, humidifiers and energy audits. In its main office, a showroom displays furnaces and a supply room holds all of the materials, filters and replacement parts. Having constant traffic (at least 15 employees and up to 30 trucks) at the office is necessary to provide the level of service Betlem’s customers expect— and usually demand.

Even still, any business will tell you it’s hard to ensure top-notch customer service if you’re not able to keep track of your own traffic.

But just as Web-enabled devices have helped everyday consumers keep better connected to their homes and each other, more businesses are finding they can keep better track of their employees and operations. The result is more-efficient operations—which of course leads to happier customers.

In this way, Betlem’s story is a true example of security impacting business results.

A Constant Connection

Kathy Betlem, the company’s vice president and granddaughter of original founder John Betlem, recognized that having a better ability to manage operations remotely was really the only way to keep up with the flow of traffic through their office. Betlem’s main office is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. during the week, but technicians need round-the-clock access to parts. If an urgent heating or cooling issue arises for customers, the technicians need to be able to meet their emergency needs. As part of a larger upgrade, Doyle, which serves both residential and commercial customers, particularly focused on the small- to medium-sized businesses in the Rochester area, recommended a remote system (Honeywell’s Total Connect) that allows users to manage security from Web-enabled devices such as PCs, smartphones and mobile tablets.

“They all live probably a half-hour to 45 minutes away, and they really wanted to be able to arm and disarm the system remotely instead of having to drive in several times at night to let technicians in to get certain parts so they can make it right for their customers,” Julien said. “And that’s important for them. They value their customers and they want to make sure that person has heating or cooling, whatever the need would be that night.”

The service benefits were immediate.

“We’ve had this system in probably two weeks now, and we’ve already had instances where Total Connect was the only way we could disarm interior doors as well as the alarm system so people could have access to what they needed when we weren’t in the building,” said David Betlen, service manager.

In fact, the remote monitoring system was put to the test just three nights into its installation when a technician needed a part for a customer to ensure he had heating that night. Kathy Betlem was able to take the call from the technician, disarm the system from her Android smartphone and let the technician in to get the parts and take care of the customer—all without having to get out of bed.

It was more efficient for Kathy, the technician and especially the customer. The parts were delivered faster, and the home had heating again. “Yes, I needed the security system. Yes, it needed to be updated. But that Total Connect is my bonus in my pocket,” she said. “It’s the one that helps me personally the most, as well as my other managers and my employees. It does help everybody to do their work more efficiently.”

Web-based Access Control

Betlem also added a second Web-based system aside from Total Connect. This one, though, dealt specifically with access control.

Under the previous access control system, employees entered the building by manually pushing an individual employee number on keypads located on the outside of the building. This was troublesome for the company due to the typical wear and tear of the keypads, causing access failure, not to mention the lack of control in instances where an employee left the company.

Betlem chose to move to a Web-based access control system to obtain the functionality of traditional access control (such as helping secure doors, managing employee access and sites remotely) but with an embedded Web server to give managers full control to monitor and view live events in real time, while allowing them to manually control access areas such as doors and card readers.

“They’re in a position now where they can add or delete users; they can change some access levels on the fly, if needed,” Julien said.

The benefit of having a managed access solution is that the customer manages their own facilities and doors without the burden of programming and hosting it themselves.

“The database is secure now, because we’ve got it on site and we do all the intricate programming, access code changes, holiday schedules—those kinds of things which still allow them to open doors remotely and do adds or deletes, which happen on a frequent basis for them,” Julien said.

Now when an employee enters the building, he or she does it through key fobs assigned to each individual employee. If a fob is lost, it can be disconnected from the system so it can no longer open a door. The same is true if an employee leaves the company; Betlem has the ability to reassign the fob to a new employee. Each individual fob has access to each door, making it easy to keep separate areas and control to areas given only to certain employees.

“We do have parts in separate areas, and control to those areas is given only to those certain employees. So the fob helps out access to those areas and helps us keep better control of our inventory,” David Betlem said.

Considering the small number of doors that needed securing, Doyle elected to use Honeywell NetAXS-123, a scalable system designed to secure as few as one, two or three doors, but providing the functionality offered by a typical access control system used at large office buildings.

“With the new website through NetAXS-123, we can also track who’s coming in and out of the doors just by the fob when it goes through. It does log it, and it’s instant,” said Kathy Betlem. “We can make sure that it’s the people that are supposed to have the fobs, and make sure everybody’s doing what and being where they’re supposed to.”

Looking Ahead (Literally) to Video

The next phase for Betlem will likely be adding video. On top of having a record of which technician enters the building, the company will be able to view an actual video clip of who’s coming in and verify which components were selected out of the inventory.

“They have a level of security now, but the ultimate level of security is visual. They’ll know exactly who came in because they can see them, and they’ll know exactly what component they took,” Julien said. “Right now we know that somebody went in with a key fob. We just don’t know who has had that fob. It might be the person assigned to it, but it might be somebody else. With Total Connect Video, we know exactly who is coming and you can get to see it with 100 percent certainty. And that provides peace of mind for the customer.”

As Betlem enters the next stage of security, it will continue to see results of a more efficient, connected system after making the transition to Web-based technology.

“The reason we’re proud and they’re so excited about it is because they’re really changing the way they do business,” Julien said. “They’re becoming much more efficient; they’re verifying things. And it’s very exciting when you get to an install. It really impacts somebody’s business.”

This article originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of Security Today.


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