Retail companies with far-flung locations face challenges in keeping lights, alarms, and IT systems running from headquarters and helping local staff troubleshoot a system failure. For CURO Financial Technologies Corp. and its more than 400 lending stores in the United States and Canada, when there was a power outage at one of its locations and an off-the-shelf battery backup kicked in, the company’s building management and IT teams had little time to keep the location’s power up and running. And when connectivity to a store went out, troubleshooting was an exercise in trial and error.
The company, which operates Speedy Cash stores in the U.S. and Cash Money in Canada, among other short-term lending brands, utilizes computers, network switches, routers, security systems, and digital cameras and recorders throughout its extensive footprint. Whether caused by storms or some internet disruption, when any of those systems goes offline, someone has to figure out the problem and get them back online as soon as possible.
“One of the first things we’d tell a store staff member is to reboot the system and see if it fixes the problem,” said Scott Ward, CURO’s director of building systems and security. “We’d talk them through the process, but some employees were just uncomfortable touching the technology.”
Ward and his team sought a way to manage store systems remotely: to monitor their operation and, when necessary, power cycle systems so local staff didn’t have to. After some testing, CURO adopted a two-part solution including Snap One’s WattBox 800 Series IP Power Conditioner with 12 individually controlled and metered outlets and the WattBox 2000 VA UPS Battery Pack.
“It’s a great solution for remote power management, and for ensuring connectivity without dispatching a technician,” Ward said. “We now have complete visibility to our sites. We receive alerts when AC power is lost and restored, we can monitor battery health, battery charge percentage, voltage levels and current run time. We receive a lot more information about our systems than we ever have before.”
The WattBox 800 Series IP Power Conditioner incorporates Snap One’s free OvrC remote system management and monitoring platform. Using a PC-based or smartphone app, operations teams can check the status of up to 12 connected devices — network gear, cameras, alarm systems, etc. — and restart them as necessary. They can even get email and text alerts when there’s a potential problem. Combined with the WattBox 2000 VA UPS Battery Pack, CURO now has sufficient backup power to identify issues and bring systems back online.
“When Scott approached us, their biggest service issue was rebooting and resetting critical devices in a timely fashion,” said Sean Halloran, Snap One business development manager. “Now, with our WattBox and OvrC solution, they have remote visibility and control when issues occur. In the event that a store loses power, they receive real-time alerts, which provides ample time to react and resolve the issue.”
CURO’s internal integration team handled the first several installations, documenting the preferred configurations and creating a repeatable design that could be deployed throughout all its stores. For example, although WattBox devices are rack-mountable, making it easy to organize the gear alongside other IT systems, CURO looked to Snap One to help save even more space on store floors. Working together, the teams came up with a design that included wall-mountable racks, which would allow CURO to locate WattBox solutions near each store’s network gear but even more out of the way.
Today, CURO has finished WattBox installations across all its roughly 200 U.S. locations and is nearly complete with Canada. Ward recognizes that such a robust control and backup solution represents an investment over its prior limited-functionally UPS boxes, but he says the payoff has been immediate.
“We’re rolling technicians to store locations less frequently and when we do dispatch a technician, we have better visibility of the issue. Ultimately, this is saving us money,” he said. “And so far, we’ve come in under budget on the installations because the setup is so simple.”
Stores are running more efficiently, and their systems stay online more reliably. Because it’s easier to ensure the ongoing operation of the entire technology footprint, stores enjoy a greater sense of safety, security, and reliability, Ward said. “It’s been a one-time cost,” he said, “but the savings are recurring.”