By Fred Grauer
The whole issue of security has become pretty frightening. It wasn’t long ago that I, like a lot of guys, was convinced I shared many traits with Superman—you know: invincible, able to leap over tall buildings, faster than a speeding bullet, able to handle almost any threatening situation. But in the last few years, my mental awareness has sure undergone a course correction.
Most weeks, you can find me at the airport- security check-in area getting ready to board another plane. To those who don’t travel very often, this may sound glamorous and fun. But I’m here to tell you: After 9/11, this is most certainly not the case. That fateful day changed the American lifestyle forever. But for me, the fun of travel is sharing the details of my business with those interested in the car-wash industry.
With the ownership of any business comes added awareness of security. As defense is such a broad-based, billion-dollar business, how do you sift through all the hype and boil it down to those items you need most? As business owners, we face the unknown every day. Many events occur over which we have absolutely no control; but once in a while, we come face to face with terrifying situations we can do something about.
Types of Threat
First, let’s look at the economy, which represents a financial threat. On a national level, we have little control over it; but locally, we can do something to secure the future of our businesses. In a crisis situation, the government mobilizes its SWAT teams. When your livelihood is being threatened, you can use a similar strategic advantage: In business, we call it SWOT analysis. You bring your team together to list and review your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Afterward, you have the makings of a tactical initiative that will secure your position and allow you to go on the offense rather than the defense.
In business, we deal with other types of threats. Internally, they take the form of breaches in security. Sometimes violations are caused by human intent, other times by accident. Often they occur because significant safeguards or disciplines do not exist. In the lucky event you have not experienced a business loss—employee theft, a break-in, other criminal activity—count your blessings; and then call in experts to ensure you have all the proper defenses in place for the future.
In a retail environment, security takes a different twist. Here we (including our customers) are exposed to many different risks. What can you do to ensure the safety, performance and quality of your business? Every time I meet a client to build a new car wash, the question of personal, property and equipment safety enters the discussion. How do you design the facility to minimize risk? What products can guarantee customers get what they pay for and we receive our return on investment?
The Role of Technology
Fortunately, the electronics industry and the expansion of technology has lead to the launch of some very cool, exciting products. Not only can we monitor all the activities of our businesses, we can do so remotely and from great distances. For example, I was recently introduced to a web-based management tool that allowed me to enter a URL, type in a password, and watch in real time what was occurring at a car-wash location. This kind of access brings tremendous peace of mind. In addition to tracking activity at your sites, think of the comfort you provide customers when they know they (and their goods) are on camera.
In the coming months, more data-collection and security products will become available at affordable prices. New point-of-sale systems, wireless devices, cameras and camera phones will enable us to track, manage and minimize our business risk. As the car-wash and self-storage industries become more mature, they will have more sophisticated technology available to maintain security at a reasonable cost.
Fred Grauer is the vice president, distributor network, for MarkVII Equipment LLC, a car-wash equipment manufacturer in Arvada, Colo. He has made a life-long career of designing, selling, building and operating car washes. He can be reached at email@example.com.