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CASE STUDY: Auto Dealership Relies on Open-Platform Video for Security and Efficiency

With seventeen retail, service, and corporate facilities in Portland, OR, and Southwest Washington, Dick Hannah Dealerships has grown to become one of the largest automobile companies in the Pacific Northwest. It employs nearly 1,000 people, represents and services twelve automotive brands and maintains a total daily inventory of about 2,000 vehicles.

Over the years, Dick Hannah Dealerships had installed a piecemeal video camera system at several locations. But as the company grew in scale and complexity, managers looked to upgrade to a comprehensive, unified system covering all locations in Oregon and Washington.

Sean McKannay, CIO and digital marketing director, and Chris Stroebel, service desk manager, recently worked closely with local systems integrator, REECE Complete Security Solutions (REECE), to design and install the company’s new video surveillance system.

When the upgrade project began in early 2017, the company’s facilities had a mix of standard-resolution legacy video cameras. Inside the main showroom area of each dealership, there were single-sensor Axis Communications network cameras installed and some pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras on building exteriors to provide coverage of the entrances and parking lots.

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“Through our conversations with Dick Hannah Dealerships, we all realized there were opportunities to use cameras as a tool to maintain the high quality in its everyday business,” said Max Saldana, director of strategic accounts, REECE. “We leveraged the Milestone open platform to pull together both the legacy equipment as well as the new technologies we were integrating with their system.”

Milestone Dick Hannah

The Husky Approach

With the previous video network, Dick Hannah Dealerships had a centralized server, but its recorded video retention time was limited, and the system had reliability issues. The Dick Hannah Dealerships team worked with REECE to design a new video network architecture.

Now, a Milestone Husky server is installed in each location, allowing centralized, local video use and management and robust network connectivity to the corporate command center. Saldana explained that with this many locations, there is a lot of network traffic. Even with a robust LAN/WAN (wide area network) environment, the networked video requirements are demanding due to the volume of data.

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“We’ve moved toward a best-of-breed, open platform approach with the Milestone portfolio, and a mix now of about 300 multi-sensor cameras from Arecont and Samsung, and new PTZ cameras from Axis,” said Saldana. “Executive staff and store managers can access a global look or view individual stores, depending on how permissions have been set up. We have also enabled remote viewing and management to allow for greater flexibility.”

The Milestone XProtect video management and Web Client have been installed at each location. The executive team also uses Milestone Mobile, a free client interface that works with all XProtect video management software and Milestone Husky NVRs and provides video system access via Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G connections.

From business hours to after hours, with remote monitoring and access control integration, Dick Hannah Dealerships uses its video surveillance system for a wide range of security and operational applications.

Access Control Integration

“We were able to leverage its existing Lenel access control system and integrate it with the Milestone video system,” said Saldana. “Dick Hannah Dealerships now has some of the most cutting-edge technology in place. For example, it has Bluetooth card readers installed which allows the use of phones to unlock doors and get card credentials while the Milestone system backs up the process with visual video verification.”

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The integration with Lenel OnGuard is based on Milestone’s XProtect Access interface and enables operators to display Lenel access control events and alarms in the XProtect Smart Client. OnGuard Access is an advanced access control application, including a feature-rich alarm monitoring module that allows users to view alarm events from OnGuard in real time in the XProtect Smart Client and acknowledge OnGuard alarms from the XProtect Smart Client.

Business-Hours Monitoring

“Our general managers like having cameras where they can see the staff and customers during the day. They check if people are on task, or how they are handling situations,” said McKannay. “The video is now an extension of management. Either on-site or through their smartphone, a manager can see what’s happening, and if they get a call that something’s not being dealt with properly, the manager can verify the situation quickly.”

McKannay explained that with the cameras in place, Dick Hannah Dealerships has seen a reduction in HR issues with employees, as well as a reduction in, and better management of, customer issues and complaints, including liability issues with vehicle damage, injuries, and slip-and-falls.

“You would be surprised by the number of instances where visitors to our facilities either claim that they slipped and were hurt in the service drive, or that their vehicle was damaged at our facility,” said Stroebel. “We now use video documentation to see the exact condition of a vehicle both as it arrived at our facility and while on-site. This helps us better manage these conversations with our customers.”

In addition, Dick Hannah’s call center managers use the video system to improve customer service. Traditionally, it had been a challenge to coordinate communications between incoming customer calls with service writers (the people who write up vehicle service information when a customer arrives at the service bays).

Shrinkage, Vandalism and ROI

Stroebel and McKannay explained that with a dealership of this size, controlling theft and internal shrinkage is a substantial challenge with so many open areas, visitors, employees and sought-after equipment, tools, vehicles and parts. The security team uses recorded and live video day and night to monitor and reduce theft. While inventory security is a prime concern, the company also uses video to help secure its cash vaults, safes, and armored truck pickups.

“There have been a number of occasions where a company has been able to harness Milestone and the technology behind it to be proactive and save money in the long run,” said Saldana. “In cases of equipment theft, it doesn’t take too many instances for the video system to quickly pay for itself.”

For example, Saldana explained the current trend for car-lot thieves is breaking into vehicles and stealing the car’s main vehicle computer. With the damage to the vehicle—broken mirrors, smashed glass, and torn up dashboards—and the theft of the computer, a single instance can easily cost the dealership $8,000 to $10,000.

High-Performance Next Steps

Dick Hannah Dealerships is currently building an 80,000-sq-ft body shop and collision center in Vancouver, WA. This new facility is the first where the security and surveillance system will be designed and installed from the ground up. Saldana explained that this is a critical location for Dick Hannah. When vehicles are damaged, they will come to this body shop for repair.

With what began as an effort to make sure vehicles were not being stolen or damaged at night, Dick Hannah Dealerships and REECE have been able to bring together several technologies to better manage the company’s safety, security and everyday operations.

“All through this project, the engineering help and support from REECE and Milestone have been great,” said McKannay. “From best leveraging our existing systems to training our staff, this has been a collaborative effort all around, and we look forward to growing the system and utilizing more video capabilities with our new facilities and beyond.”

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