Case in point: GuardMe uses Honeywell’s VISTA-128FBP control panel with a Honeywell 7845i-GSM communicator, which uses a high-speed cellular network connection for communication. GuardMe also sells the features and benefits of Honeywell’s Total Connect services to its customers, such as Sixth Avenue Electronics. With Total Connect, customers capitalize on the benefits of digital technology to control their security systems, receive alerts remotely, and more â€” using the Internet, PDAs, cellular phones and other Web-enabled devices.
Security is critical for Sixth Avenue Electronics, an electronics retailer with 17 locations in the northeastern United States. As Steven Hayes, director of Security & Loss Prevention for the company, explains, “We sell all consumer electronics â€” cameras, camcorders, televisions, GPSs, iPods, cameras, cell phones. You name it; we’ve got it.”
That type of merchandise can be particularly attractive to thieves â€” and with locations measuring in the range of 25,000 to 50,000 square feet, Sixth Avenue Electronics has a lot of merchandise to protect. Until recently, the company’s security needs were complicated by the fact that it was served by different security dealers in different areas â€” and virtually every dealer had chosen a different type of equipment.
About 18 months ago, management at Sixth Avenue Electronics decided there had to be a better way. “They came to us looking for a solution to consolidate their suppliers,” recalls Craig Metzger, president of GuardMe Security, which at the time provided security for two of Sixth Avenue’s locations. “Most importantly, they wanted to centralize system management and give themselves complete control of the system remotely.”
Sixth Avenue Electronics has begun replacing its hodgepodge of security systems with a consistent platform based on Honeywell’s VISTA-128FBP control panel with a Honeywell 7845i-GSM communicator, which uses the Internet and a high-speed cellular network connection for communications. All of the systems can be remotely controlled by authorized users through an Internet browser, and system alerts are automatically sent to those users through e-mail or short message service (SMS).
“The end user is able to set the parameters of when and why they wish to be notified and where,” Metzger explains.
Upgrades to the Honeywell platform are being made as the client’s contracts with previous dealers expire. In addition, Sixth Avenue Electronics opens a new location about every two months, and all of that business is going to GuardMe.
REMOTE ACCESS IS KEY
“They use it daily for opening store locations,” Metzger notes. “When a manager is out sick or late, they can arm and disarm the system remotely.”
Previously, if an employee was terminated, security personnel would have had to drive to the location to delete that employee’s security code â€” and in some cases, the driving time involved several hours in each direction. “Now, rather than drive out to that location, the director of security is able to delete that code immediately from his Blackberry® or personal computer,” Metzger says. “It saves a tremendous amount of time and financial resources by not having to go there.”
The new system also lets senior management at Sixth Avenue Electronics keep closer tabs on operations at individual locations. Management can receive alerts if, for example, a location opens late or closes early. “Previously, if they had a problem, they were at the mercy of the store’s local management to inform senior management on their own that the stores were late to open,” Metzger explains. “Now senior management is automatically notified by e-mail and they can determine if it becomes excessive.”
Before Total Connect was installed, one Sixth Avenue location had excessive user error, resulting from employees who hadn’t been properly trained on the system. That location had so many false alarms, the system was put out of service by the police and the company was called in for a mandatory court appearance.
“Senior management wasn’t aware of any of this until the company was experiencing severe municipal issues,” Metzger relates.
With the new system, problems of that nature are a thing of the past, he says. “We avoid it by notification through Total Connect, which lets them know when the system is in alarm, along with any faults and troubles in the system.”
Previously, Hayes had to rely on store management to let him know if a system required service. Now trouble alerts and faults are sent directly to him, facilitating the service process.
Total Connect communications has been made possible by the widespread deployment of GSM cellular technology supporting data communications. Each iGSM communicator is pre-programmed to connect with a centralized facility operated by Honeywell, which transmits alarms and alerts to the central station monitoring the end user account. GuardMe, for example, operates its own central station. From there, e-mails or text messages are automatically transmitted to authorized end users per the client’s pre-programmed instructions, and operators can dispatch police or emergency personnel, as appropriate.
Installing the GSM communicators is an easy task for GuardMe installers. “We have found that programming them in-house cuts down on installation time,” Rizzo relates. “Normally we can provide them pre-programmed to our technicians to take them to a job, install them and by the time they mount it on the wall, the unit’s normally ready to send signals and be tested in with the central station.”
THE â€˜PIZZAZZâ€™ FACTOR
“That system offered glass-break sensors, motion sensors, contacts on all the doors and made it so that within my warehouse compound, anywhere you were to step within three feet, you would set off a motion sensor somewhere,” Hayes recalls.
As each new location is converted to Total Connect, GuardMe occasionally is able to reuse existing sensors, but typically installs new equipment. In addition to the Honeywell panel, a typical installation includes a keypad, fire annunciator, full perimeter protection on doors and windows, glass-break sensors and full interior motion detection. The platform also uses Honeywell’s V-Plex® polling technology. Rather than requiring separate homerun connections for each protection zone, V-Plex® uses a single polling loop that enables installers to configure zones through software. This simplifies the installation process and adds a higher level of flexibility.
“For facilities with so many square feet, V-Plex® is the right way to go to make the installation process simpler and give full descriptions throughout the facility,” Metzger believes.
Hayes and some other authorized Sixth Avenue personnel typically use portable wireless devices, such as a Blackberry® or iPhone™ to interact with the security system. Interfaces are available for download to either of those devices to provide a graphical user interface that resembles the Honeywell keypad installed at each location.
“With Total Connect’s unique and easy-to-use keypad interfaces, Sixth Avenue is able to empower its management to reach out to their stores without any additional training,” notes Gordon G. Hope Jr., Honeywell’s general manager for AlarmNet.
The iPhone™ interface, dubbed My Keypad, is particularly appealing, Metzger says. “My Keypad is fantastic,” he says. “The graphics are phenomenal. It’s an exact replica of the Honeywell keypad and through that application you have full access to the system.”
“It’s becoming a very popular add-on for our existing customer base,” Metzger notes, “and we’re finding that prospects are just as interested residentially as commercially.”
GuardMe now mentions Total Connect on every sales call. In addition, the company has included with customer invoices a tri-fold brochure explaining the features and benefits of Total Connect. In the near future, GuardMe salespeople will begin contacting existing customers directly to discuss Total Connect.
At a time when new construction has slowed, GuardMe’s experience with Sixth Avenue Electronics is an excellent example of how a company can generate revenues from its existing base. In this case, GuardMe not only generated new equipment sales at locations where it already had systems. In addition, the lure of a centralized, consistent security platform was strong enough to persuade the client to convert other locations to Total Connect â€” and to GuardMe.