Security System Considerations For Your Car Wash

Security System Considerations For Your Car Wash (First Published In Auto Laundry News) By Buzz Glover 9-24-13

When building a new car wash or adding a security system to an existing car wash you should consider the following:

1. Best practices for deterring vandalism or theft.
2. Best practices for deterring unbstantiated damage claims.
3. Best practices for identifying purpotrators of any incident after the fact. 4. Ease of installation through design or advanced technologies.
5. Monitoring considerations.

The good news about security systems is that the technology has advanced considerably over the past decade all while costs have dropped dramatically. Newer technolgy has allowed for much clearer video, mobile web based monitoring, and hassle-free recording through DVR technology.

The main consideration in any security system is the deterrance of any acts of theft or vandalism before they occur. It is a sinking feeling for a car wash owner when they need to start searching through their archived DVR footage for the purpotrator of theft, vanadalism, or any other claim that requires review of an event.

As a real world operator, your security system should be up-front and personal. This means choosing camera locations that have an “in-your-face” presence at your car wash. This “in-your-face” approach to you security should be coupled with signage that drives home the fact that the premises are under 24 hour monitoring and that any perpetrator’s actions will be on film for any act of theft or vandalism. Locations for security system cameras should include the following:

1. ingress and egress from your property – including a special license plate camera that will allow you to read the license plate of every vehicle that enters or leaves your property. While these cameras are much more expensive than normal security cameras they provide a valuable tool in identifying perperators after the fact.

2. Anywhere there is money. If you own self-serve car washes, cameras and signage should be located anywhere money is located. This will include entry systems, changers, bay and vac coin boxes and vending machines. In a full-serve or flex serve car washes they should be located in waiting area and at cashier. Equipment room cameras will also allow you to indentify and deter employee theft

3. In-bay presence to deter unsustantiated damage claims. The goal for this is to be able to review a customer’s vehicle as clearly as possible before it enters your full service or automatic bay. Owner’s of friction washes know all too well, that many pre- exisiting conditions are blamed on their car wash equipment. If you are able to point out to a customer that their mirror was hanging off, or their paint had a large scrape before

they entered your wash. It will minimize damage claims. This will require strategic placement of cameras in your wash.

4. Strategic placement that monitors vehicle flow through the wash minimizing blind spots. The goal is to follow a vehcle on to your property and continuously monitor it through out it’s actions. This will require cameras on light poles, in wash bays, at vacuums, etc. and signage below each camera that points out the camera. The more prominant the camera and signage the less likely an event will occur .

Identifying and reporting of any incident after it happens can be problematic in many older or poorly designed security systems. The reasons for this is because many of the older systems do not provide clear video footage and there is no way to identify who committed any crime on your property. Newer, properly placed cameras, will provide clear footage of any purpotrator, their license plate, make, model and color of their vehicle.

When designing a new system or replacing an existing security system the placement of these cameras can be problematic becuase of the nature of hard wired camera installations. Many older designs will not have conduit to run cabling to new strategic camera locations and while wireless, solar-powered, cameras exist, they prove to be less relaible than traditional hard wired installations. This becomes even a bigger issue when you want to locate cameras on your premise away from your building structure. In new designs, you need to plan appropriately, because once the asphalt is installed, any changes will be prohibitive or expensive.

Monitoring your video has never been easier with many of the web based technologies. Most all newer DVR technologies will also allow users to remotely veiw their premises from home computers or mobile devices. Some user interfaces are easier than others, but most will allow any car wash owner to view their car washes when they want from wherever they want.

Security systems have become much more popular for all business types over the past few years, but have been common for the car wash industry for decades. Keeping them up-to-date can be challenging with today’s technological advancements.

Buzz Glover, owns two car washes in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA and Is the author of “Car Wash Business 101, The #1 Car Wash Start-Up Guide” available on Amazon at s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368491020&sr=1-1&keywords=car+wash+business+101

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