Video Surveillance Workout: Securing a 24-Hour Gym

Security firm wins the job and keeps customers by supplying rugged, durable cameras and DVRs that meet customer requirements.


Video surveillance systems are used for applications such as convenience, safety, security, and loss prevention. Cameras are deployed in conjunction with access and door control systems to encourage proper usage and provide additional authentication of who is gaining access.

Camera systems may be used in real time to view activity as it is occurring, and to review past occurrences if an irregularity is reported and proof is sought.

The video cameras and recorders you use will depend on several factors. Although the cost of the equipment will always be a factor, it should not be the only factor guiding your decision.

For an example, if you are bidding a project where a particular product is specified, you will always shop for the best price just like the person requesting the bid is seeking the low bidder. If the bid specification allows for an approved equivalent, you can plug in an alternate (based on price, quality or both) and hope it gets approved as an equivalent.

I’ve participated in bids where I’ve wanted to offer an alternate because I had a product that I could procure for less than the item that was specified. If you are a small company, you probably do not get the same discounts on products as the bigger companies do.

I’ve also participated in bids where I had an alternative solution which I felt would do the job better.

Without addendums being created, substituting a more expensive item in your bid puts you at a disadvantage, even if your substitution is a stroke of genius.

Once in a while, the bid will state that the selection of the vendor will be based on multiple factors, not just the lowest price. In these situations you can offer a few alternates with detailed performance details, and you will not be placing yourself at a disadvantage.

When we’re responding to customers’ requests for quotes, (in other words non-bid commercial sales), we like to standardize on our vendors and the product models we sell so the designers and installers can get familiar with the equipment deployment, be able to train the customers, and enable us to keep spares on hand for emergency service. Frankly, with the evolution of the products, items are frequently discontinued and newer technology takes their place, so keeping an inventory is not a good investment.

We generally offer a one-year warranty, but will extend the warranty if it seems like it will be the deal maker. Most warranties do not include a free advanced replacement, but it has a lot to do with how you and your vendor do business together.

We usually have several projects running concurrently, so it may be possible to float one project a loaner item from another project in an earlier stage of completion, so you can send the bad item back without inconveniencing the client or yourself or creating a liability for your company by leaving a client without a camera.

Case Study

The case history project this month was for a 24-hour fitness gym. We had already done some business with them when they first opened, and although they were a franchise, and were compelled to use certain items and services supplied to them by the franchiser, they still needed some door hardware supplied and installed.

But our company was not hired for the video surveillance installation. I had showed them cameras and DVRs but they were reluctant to go outside of the rules set forth by the franchiser.

Now they were expanding, and asked for a quote on a couple of cameras and a larger DVR.

I have gone through the evolutionary process with video equipment. Since we frequently bid, we have handled top-of-the-line cameras and DVRs. We have also tried going to the other extreme by trying our luck with importing stuff direct, or almost direct.

Ordering direct from offshore suppliers means dealing with shipping and customs problems, minimum order requirements, currency conversion, time zones, language barriers and quality control. Ordering ‘almost’ direct entails dealing with minimum orders, language barriers and quality control.

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