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CCTV Installation – The Good and The Bad


Good install / bad install

What makes for a good CCTV installation and what is considered a bad one?

A good CCTV installation starts with communication between the customer, the dealer, and the installer.

It is necessary to educate the customer about what is needed to accomplish and what the customer wants to do. What technology fits best and what will work best with the budget he has in mind. If he wants a deluxe system, but does not want to spend the necessary money, the salesman needs to make that very clear. There will always be somebody out there that will give him that price point and it is the salesman’s job to educate his customer on the dangers of investing in a system that will not deliver what he expects. Not easy, but absolutely necessary. Failure to do all of this will make for a bad install in almost every case.

Once the system is designed, it is time to source the products. Purchasing quality products is extremely important, as this will set up the base for an effective installation. If a varifocal camera is needed, buy it. Make sure the spec on the recorder is appropriate, that enough hard drive is included, and that the hard drive is video optimized. The use of good quality cable is also very important. Video quality is dependent on good wire. Purchasing from a dependable supplier will make life a lot easier. Make sure that they will be able to advise when you have a tech question. Make sure that they have a good RMA record and will be willing to repair or replace any defective products.

Next, Communication between the dealer and the installer is very important. All device locations must be clearly identified, wire runs must be laid out, and head end location determined and power availability verified. Any installation of more than 4 cameras should have a drawing provided, showing all locations. Failing to do any of this will result in confusion and mistakes. Call backs will be the result. Call backs are expensive and hurt your credibility. Too many installers are sent out on a job without complete instructions. Obviously, this is the responsibility of the dealer, and is a necessary one.

The installer should plan the job out before picking up a tool. Device locations, wire runs, head end, all, so the install will go smoothly without delays caused by confusion. Bring in all the equipment to a central point, all tools, ladders, etc. This bit of organization will pay off well.

The actual install can now begin. Generally, running the cable is the first stage, then hang the devices, then head end connections. Make sure that all wire runs are straight and true. This is what the customer will see every day, and sloppy wire will make him think your whole job is bad. Make sure cameras are straight and true, boxes are level, and exposed wire straight and neat. A good CCTV installation requires that every bit of mess be cleaned up immediately. A bad installation will leave a mess. Even little things are important, like the BNCs must be properly done. Bad BNCs will result in service calls, unnecessary expenses.

When the installation is completed, a good installer will go over the entire job, making sure all is right. When he is satisfied, the most important stage begins – customer training. This is a vital part of the job, and is a point where a bad installer will just do a quick and dirty job and go. A good installer will take the time to make sure that the customer really understands all operations necessary for him to effectively use the system. Advice on basic trouble shooting, how to contact the company, who to talk to. Again, basic communication is absolutely vital, and unfortunately, too rare. The final thing for the installer to do is to have the customer sign off on a completion and acceptance form. Good time to ask for referrals and pick up payment!

We have all seen way too many example of horrible installs, sloppy work, resulting in call backs and unhappy customers that will never give referrals, but will tell everybody they know what a lousy job you have done. It is really sad when you consider how little extra time it takes to do a neat job. A very small investment in time can and will make a huge difference in customer satisfaction.

A lot of bad installs can be attributed to poorly trained installers that just don’t know any better. It takes training and supervision to allow installers to do a proper job. Make sure your installers have that before you send them out on their own. When bidding a job, make sure your prospect knows who will do the install. Make sure that he knows that you only use well trained and experienced installers that will make a huge difference. An IT guy might be a real whiz with computers, but will have real problems with the mechanical aspects of a camera install.

There are many examples of really good installs out there. Those are the jobs that result in happy customers, referrals, and future business. And a company that will be around for a while. It was always interesting to go into the Yellow Pages from two or three years ago and see how many companies are no longer in business. They were the poorly run companies that did not make sure the jobs were properly done, that did not really try to satisfy their customers, that bought the absolute cheapest parts, that didn’t take the time to properly train the help. Also, those were the companies that helped hurt the reputation of the entire industry.

A good CCTV installation does not cost extra, but returns excellent results. Using the proper product, an intelligent installation by qualified staff, communication between all parties, and taking the time to properly supervise the job will give the results that all want. And you will still be in business when your customer wants another system. And his brother-in-law, etc.

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