Today, video surveillance is table stakes for restaurant and service-related franchises in their fight against theft and fraud. When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that 75% of employees admit to theft, remotely monitoring your franchise stores is simply the cost of doing business.
In the not-too-distant past, video surveillance consisted of low-resolution, closed-circuit cameras that generated silent, grainy, stuttering video that was, frankly, useless in many cases. Tapes, disks, or files piled up. Video was reviewed reactively, if at all, and usually only if an incident occurred.
Video intelligence today has changed dramatically. Today's technological advances are helping operators go beyond simple surveillance. By integrating modern video technology with point-of-sale systems and data, and applying advanced business analytics, forward-thinking operators of all sizes are using it to transform their operations to deliver a more differentiated, customer-centric experience; engender a culture of responsibility; and transform operations and marketing - in some cases resulting in double-digit profit improvement.
Here are five things franchisors and franchisees should know about modern video intelligence, how it has changed, and how it is helping to improve operations and more effectively deliver on the brand promise.
1) Go to the game film. Tapes, videos, and DVDs have gone the way of the flip-phone. Today video is stored in digital files, either on premise or in the cloud, and is easily organized and searchable through integration with POS or other business systems. When something "interesting" occurs, franchisors can simply search the database using keywords, watch the film to get the context behind the event, and then file it away with comments or next steps.
2) Illumination to insight. Having access to the visual context behind any meaningful event is one thing. Being able to identify and understand it is quite another. In the fight against theft and fraud, for instance, franchisors can generate exception reports on high-risk transactions such as no sales, cash refunds, or low dollar transactions and instantly review only the video associated with those critical events, versus having to search through hours of video.
3) Put me in, coach! Upselling (super-sizing) and cross-selling ("Would you like fries with that?") may seem simple enough, but in fact they are advanced sales techniques that require skills, training, and practice - and are often difficult to get associates to do on a consistent basis. Intelligent video, integrated with POS systems, allows operators to assess how employees are doing on this front, and coach and train employees by example. Operators can see how associates are doing, then "go to the tape" to show an employee examples of both great customer interactions and missed upsell opportunities, providing an effective learning experience for the trainee. Some companies also monitor employees and score them to provide an outside perspective.
4) Analyze this. "How many people came in today?" The practice of people-counting is as old as the restaurant business itself. In the past, operators would rely primarily on their POS system for their customer count (e.g., we sold 100 hamburgers, so we must have had 100 customers). Ultimately, counting customers this way didn't add much more insight than simply tracking sales. Today, using advanced video analytics and POS integration, operators not only can count the number of customers, but also measure how long they spend in line, where they tend to dwell, and whether they abandon the lines. The insight gained from this analysis can then be used for an almost endless variety of tasks, for example, to create more targeted, more effective marketing campaigns, to improve staffing, to understand in-store traffic patterns, etc., across one store, a region, or beyond.
5) Capitalize on your existing investment. You may already be partway there. Most video intelligence platform providers can leverage existing, underutilized cameras and augment them with newer technology where necessary. Any modern video system can stream live video, securely and reliably, over standard web browsers, enabling owners to remotely monitor their stores from virtually anywhere.
By integrating intelligent video with POS, production systems, and access control, store owners can combine video with their critical business data and, using sophisticated business analytics, automatically identify the most important events. With some providers even offering video intelligence as software-as-a-service (SaaS), initial capital investment and consequent IT costs can be very low.
How is an operator to know if video intelligence is right for them? Like much modern technology, it must be powerful and incredibly easy to use, but in the end it is only as good as the user. Making the most of one's investment requires a commitment to taking insights from the system, providing the feedback to the organization, and making the necessary changes and course corrections. It also requires a commitment to incorporate the technology into the company's culture, where both owners and employees see the benefits. For example, one of our customers uses video monitoring as a key employee training tool and often rewards exceptional performance by recognizing positive customer interaction with a small gift card.
Video intelligence is not just for the big operators with multi-member loss prevention teams. Small operators can leverage the same powerful tools that larger brands use, even if it is just to fix the one underperforming store that may be dragging overall operations down.
It's not your grandfather's video surveillance anymore. Today's video intelligence, integrated with your POS systems, and combined with state-of-the-art analytics tools, can deliver actionable insights that can be a game-changer for operations and a competitive advantage for your business.
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