“The hosted video solution gives me real-time visual feedback about store operations to improve our efficiency and service quality," says Chris Johnson, owner of two Jersey Mike’s locations in Irmo, SC.
Jersey Mike’s Subs prides itself on fresh, authentic sub sandwiches made just like they were nearly 60 years ago at the original Mike’s Subs in Point Pleasant, N.J. But with more than 600 franchisee-owned locations across the U.S., how do multi-store owners stay hands-on and meet Mike’s standards when they can’t possibly be two places at once? The answer is hosted IP video.
“When you have video surveillance in the shop, security is a given,” says Chris Johnson, owner of two Jersey Mike’s locations in Irmo, SC. “But the hosted video solution gives me real-time visual feedback about store operations to improve our efficiency and service quality. I could run all the ticket system reporting in the world, but seeing is believing.”
When Johnson entered the franchise market, he sought a video surveillance system to protect his assets. Andre Fontana, regional VP of A3 Communications, helped take Johnson’s surveillance to the next level with a hosted video solution. “When you own multiple locations and travel as much as Chris does, a traditional in-house CCTV system can only play a reactionary role,” Fontana says. “And what good is the system if someone steals or destroys the DVR? By leveraging hosted video, we not only give the customer redundant and secure storage in the cloud, but the video is always available.”
A3’s Certified Technicians installed five Axis Communications IP cameras with HDTV quality and two-way audio at each location, which stream to Secure-i’s cloud platform for a monthly fee. The system is then supplemented with a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device and an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). NAS enables Jersey Mike’s to record 60 days of HDTV quality video for forensic and training purposes, and the system continues to record if power or Internet is lost in the store.
“Some of the Jersey Mike’s locations only have DSL connections, but since we have the NAS device to store high quality, high frame rate video, DSL offers plenty of bandwidth to stream a lower resolution and frame rate for operational monitoring,” Fontana says.
Each Jersey Mike’s location has up to 7 employees, with half usually being high school-aged. Johnson uses his iPad to simultaneously monitor his stores via the A3 cloud portal. He looks in on everything from staff efficiency at the sandwich station, to proper use of the slicer, to customer flow, to whether or not employees are following health guidelines. “Shortly after we installed the system, I jumped on my iPhone to check in on the lunch traffic,” Johnson says. “I saw that one of the guys making subs didn’t have his hat on. I immediately called the store.”
Such instances offer coaching moments for the staff. And with the help of the franchise’s regional managers, who have the ability to log in to the system, it serves as a coaching moment for new franchise owners as well. They can analyze and compare lunch traffic at one store over another, provide tips on how to keep customers happy, allocate staff where best suited, and even identify the most productive workers.
The hosted system also helps long after employees leave for the day, as the cameras are configured for motion and audio detection after hours. “I once received an e-mail alert at midnight accompanied by a video clip,” Johnson says. “It was of a police officer doing his rounds. His flashlight triggered the cameras’ motion detection. While he obviously wasn’t a threat, it gave me great peace of mind to know that everyone was doing their part — the local police, the cameras and our security partners.”
Even if the cameras lose connection or are damaged by vandalism, Jersey Mike’s owners receive an alert thanks to A3’s error checking system, which pings the cameras on a regular basis to ensure they are still functioning.
While franchise owners are free to choose any surveillance system, A3’s hosted video offering with Axis and Secure-i is the only corporate-approved video surveillance solution. Since they anticipate that the surveillance package will be rolled out frequently, A3 has created a pre-configured box setup for Jersey Mike’s locations that includes the cameras, NAS, layout designs, and materials list. The installer is onsite at 7 a.m. and done before 10 a.m. — well before the sub shop opens for lunch. “Store owners decide in 10-15 minutes if the hosted solution will work for them,” Fontana explains. “I haven’t had anyone say no.”