Thinking of Buying a Fast-Casual Franchise? Read this report first.

Tools | Quinn Bowman

Extra Eyes
Web-based video surveillance systems have multiple uses in today’s industry.
Video surveillance isn't just for monitoring theft in fast food restaurants.

Video security services have been available to quick-service operations for years. Initially, managers could pair the cameras with a clunky VCR to provide a reliable record of what was recorded when no one was watching the monitors. With the advent of digital video recorders (DVR), the process of searching and storing videos became more efficient and faster.

But as restaurant managers realize that the power of the Internet can be combined with video surveillance, cameras in the kitchen and dining room not only become easier to access, but the potential role they play can change dramatically.

In June Chipotle announced that it was partnering with digital video provider Envysion to equip all of its 600-plus stores with the Envysion Video system, which allows managers to access live and recorded video via a hosted Web-based application.

Envysion President and COO Matt Steinfort says Chipotle chose to switch from the previously cutting-edge VCR and DVR system in their stores because they saw new viability in accessing video from the Web.

“Chipotle had video in a large number of stores, some of which were VCR and some DVR, which used to be leading edge. What they found was it didn’t enable them to do what they wanted to do,” he says.

EYESthere, a Dallas-based digital video franchisee, specializes in providing cameras and Web-connected DVRs to regional quick-service and fast-casual restaurants. Vice President of Research and Development Randy Andrews says that the company’s customers saw remote Web access to digital video as a way to multiply its effectiveness.

Envysion and EYESthere say their customers see a key advantage to Web-based video: instead of using video solely for loss-prevention and security, restaurant managers now use ubiquitous camera access to train and reward employees, assist the marketing department, and monitor basic operations.

Andrews’s customers are using Web-based digital video, as his company name suggests, to see almost everything that is happening in the restaurant when they aren’t around. And managers don’t necessarily use it to punish employees, either.

“We specialize in chain accounts, and we have a chain where there is one manager per eight stores,” Andrews says. “This client doesn’t go to every store every day. Once a week they will go down a checklist and review employees, the state of the facility, traffic patterns—a whole bunch of things. They very often reward employees for doing an excellent job,” he says.

Digital video is now an empowering productivity tool, Andrews adds.

At Envysion, the extensive telecommunications experience “from the chairman on down” helped guide the vision and business plan for providing a secure Web-based system that allows anyone in the restaurant management team to see what is going on in the stores.

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