One of the hardest parts of working in this industry is the fact that the products we sell are electronics. Like many electronics, security cameras and DVR recorders can arrive DOA or possibly even malfunction after they are installed. Needless to say, electronics are touchy and sometimes they mess up.
When a CCTV system is installed and a camera or DVR goes down, all logic, civility, and understanding can sometimes go down with it. Like all resellers, we at 2MCCTV have to refer back to the manufacturer’s warranty, and the vast majority of manufacturers require that a product is shipped back and evaluated before a repair or replacement is sent back. That means down time without the unit. Today I am going to write about a few scenarios that I have experienced to help us plan to avoid CCTV system downtime.
Full disclosure – I am a salesperson – of CCTV cameras and systems. But, I hope that you will understand that this blog is about avoiding issues and not about selling more. That being said, I do want you to buy more! For 4 cameras you will need 8 BNC connectors. Buy 10. Or 12. They are 65 cents each and it is worth it in case one is dropped or lost. That extra amount is just an insurance against having to overnight one in or driving around looking for a store that has some in stock. (More about Connectors)
Buy Quality or Buy Spares
If you can live with a camera going down and waiting for the replacements then you don’t have to do anything extra, but if you can’t you’ll want to plan ahead. Firstly, we need to look at the level of equipment you are buying. Cheaper products are more prone to failure than higher end products. We know that 99% of the time a $30 camera won’t be the same quality as a $150 camera. If you’re needing to guard a nuclear missile silo, you’ll probably want to be thinking quality because obviously, you cannot afford system downtime. So we’ll either need to purchase the higher quality products or buy spares during the initial install as an insurance against failure. Maybe we decide to buy $30 cameras, well buy two extra in case of a failure.
Inspect/Test Equipment Upon Arrival
One time, I got a call from a customer who said that all of his cameras were dead on arrival. I looked up his order and it was purchased 4 years prior. The cameras (and they were expensive) sat in his garage for 200 weeks before he attempted to install them. By the time he called the cameras were out of warranty and there was nothing we could do. Did the cameras go bad sitting for so long? We will never know, but if they arrived dead they could have been fixed if reported in time. I know this is a crazy situation but the point of the story is to do inventory and test the equipment when it comes in. That way if something is wrong, it will be documented and fixed. If we wait until the day of the install to inspect equipment, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Installers – Always Keep Spares
The above scenarios are for end users. We have a lot of installers who buy from us as well. And for them, my advice is to keep some loaners for your customers. As business grows and you go from a few to dozens to maybe hundreds of installs, it is certain that some piece of equipment will be bad. Part of your CCTV installation and repair kit needs to include a spare DVR, power supply, and a few cameras. They don’t have to be the exact same as what the customer has but they should be enough to get them through until the other products are returned from the manufacturer.
When we drive around, the state requires us to get insurance for our cars. It’s not because they think we are all bad driver or are rooting for us to crash, but because they are realistic. We need to be realistic as well. If there is a scenario in which we feel that we cannot go without a security camera system for the amount to time it takes to repair a broken part, we should plan for it.