Success Story

How Andolini’s Worldwide  mitigated theft and maximized safety with Solink

April 12, 2024

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“It’s so rare to find a great partner in the restaurant business. When I do find one, I want to share that information with my peers. Any time you want my help spreading the word about Solink, I will. Here, at events, or just speaking to prospects, let me know how I can repay the value you provide."

Concerns

  • Managerial time theft was causing operational issues, from lower productivity to staff disagreements
  • Andolini’s Worldwide’s previous security system had a poor UX/UI design, making it difficult to investigate issues.
  • Point-of-sale employee theft, including discount abuse or suspicious voids, can be hard to prove without video evidence for employment insurance purposes.

Results

  • Lee Record is able to find instances of managers arriving late and leaving early in just minutes and then compare that behavior to other managers.
  • Solink’s easy to use and intuitive interface allows any user to quickly master its features, unlocking the platform’s full value.
  • When POS reports indicate there might be suspicious activity, users can automatically correlate those transactions to video in Solink to quickly prove employee theft.

Table of Contents

The Client:
A full-service restaurant chain with 12 locations

Andolini’s Worldwide has 12 locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma serving a variety of pizza styles, both traditional and more exotic.

"We pride ourselves on what we call Tulsa style, which is a New York style crust with West Coast-inspired toppings. We also have a couple of wood-fired ovens for Napolitano style pizza. Then, we have deck ovens for Roman style pizza, which is a newer style of pizza that is sort of like a focaccia bread that we build a pizza on. Finally, we also have a Detroit style pizza on the menu as well.”

Solink is currently installed in eight of the locations, as well as their head office. They are in the process of installing Solink in their storage facility. In addition, the final location will be switched to Solink when their current provider’s contract expires.

"We have Solink installed in eight restaurants and our head office. We're also installing Solink right now in our storage facility. At some point we’d like to get Solink installed in our final restaurant, which is actually a Mexican concept. However, we signed a contract with another company before we learned about Solink so we need to wait another year before it expires.”

Computer screen displaying a surveillance software interface with multiple camera feeds and graphical data analysis.

The Challenge:
Minimize time theft and maximize efficiency

Restaurant managers are salaried employees. They are expected to work 45 hours per week, and many of those hours are long shifts on the busiest days. When managers aren’t working their set hours, productivity decreases and other issues, including poor staff relations, also arise. Before Solink, Andolini’s Worldwide didn’t have much recourse but to trust managers were working the right number of hours.

"Our general managers are salaried employees. They don’t need to clock in, and although we’ve asked them to do so voluntarily, many forget. We’d hear staff complaints, saying ‘our manager is never here,’ but sometimes that’s just the impression and not the case. The only way you can really check up on them is to use the cameras. Our old system didn’t provide the usability and video quality I needed to make it easy for me to investigate these things.”

Time theft was only one of the issues not being addressed due to the poor usability of their previous security system. The user interface hadn’t been updated in a decade, which led to hours of time and money being spent searching for needed footage.

“Our previous security system’s user interface was terrible. For some reason, they hadn’t updated it in 10 years. Remote access basically didn’t exist. Trying to find a video was almost impossible. You’d need to stand in your office in front of an old computer monitor for hours scrubbing through the footage hoping to find something. If you didn’t know which camera angle would catch the incident and its approximate time, you were never going to find it. The system wasn’t built for the time period we live in.”

A lot of employee theft in the restaurant industry comes in the form of discount abuse, sweethearting, partially voiding orders to pocket the cash difference, and other POS frauds. To prove these types of theft requires the integration of video security with your transaction data. Otherwise, the investigations can cost more than the theft incidents.

“I roll discount abuse, sweethearting, everything into theft. For example, the most recent internal theft incident was discount abuse. The guy had somehow learned the manager’s number and was using it to ring in big discounts. The individual transactions looked normal but the pattern and volume wasn’t. That’s when I’ll jump into Solink and see what happened. It only takes a minute to confirm there was theft, or that the transaction was legitimate as there are strange looking voids that do turn out to be legitimate.”

Confirming theft is particularly important in America if the business has a policy to dismiss employees for cause when they are caught stealing. Being able to show the employee their theft incidents makes it easier to get them to sign off on their dismissal, which has a positive impact on employment insurance rates.

“Our unemployment insurance premiums are based on the number of unemployment claims. The more unemployment claims you lose, the higher your insurance goes up. Knowing that I won’t need to battle these claims because the employee has watched their thefts in the Solink app is great for the bottom line, and it just eliminates a major hassle.”

Summary:

  • Restaurant managers are paid a salary and do not need to punch the clock. Without a way to quickly scan through video footage, there’s no way to keep tabs on when managers are coming and going without visiting a location.
  • Andolini’s Worldwide was using an outdated system, which made investigating incidents difficult and time-consuming, if not impossible.
  • Uncovering the less overt forms of theft, including discount abuse and cash voids, requires integrating POS data and video footage.

Lee Record was looking for an upgrade on his current security system. It needed to have an easy-to-use interface along with the security tools needed to make investigations possible. When deciding on which company to go with, it was down to Solink and one other company. The decision hinged on price, term, and the hardware agnostic nature of the Solink platform.

"We were looking at Solink and one other company. They required us to buy $30,000 in new equipment per location and sign a contract for five years. I don’t think we’d ever uncover enough theft to make that investment back. On the other hand, Solink was able to use our existing cameras, and actually unthrottled their resolution so they looked better on the Solink platform than when they were new, and offered no-term contracts. It was really a no-brainer."

In addition to the lower price and advantageous terms, Solink offers more valuable, especially time back in your schedule for other duties.

“It’s not my job to sit in front of a security monitor all day. Solink helps me be more efficient. I can go in and find what I need in minutes. I don't want to waste my time, and I don't have to with Solink. In addition to the low monthly fee and sparing us massive upfront costs, I save a lot of time, and my time is pretty expensive.”

One of the first projects for Lee Record using the Solink platform was to make sure restaurant managers were working their mandated 45 hours per week, including working during peak weekend periods. This was a two-step process, using Solink Motion Search to first prove some managers were coming in late and leaving early and then showing those managers that others were in fact working their assigned shifts.

“It’s easy to find time theft in Solink. I just put a dot on the screen over the employee entrance and skip from motion event to motion event until I see when someone comes in and leaves for the day. It only takes a couple minutes to monitor this critical issue. I unfortunately had a manager who’d come in around 11:00 on a Friday and then leave around 4:00. Her shift was supposed to be from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. When I confronted her showing the evidence, her response was to say that all of the other managers were doing the same thing. I sat down with her in front of Solink and showed her that in fact everyone else was following the rules.”

The Solink system makes it easier to uncover a variety of issues from time theft and discount abuse to customer service issues. For example, the platform makes it easy to track people as they move through the restaurant, allowing Lee Record to follow-up on customer complaints or confirm that servers are following upsell scripts. This helps transform security infrastructure into a profit driver.

“With Solink it only takes 10 minutes to investigate something. We are really focusing on customer service at the moment with restaurant audits. We’re doing things like secret shoppers, but that’s all harder to scale up. I can review way more customer interactions by following them around the restaurant on the Solink platform. For example, if a customer complains about how long the service took, I can go in and see why it took so long. Maybe it just felt long because servers weren’t stopping to say ‘hi’ as they walked by. These are all things that, once we observe it, we can coach on it, so that’s an added value.”

While the average employee theft incident is usually too low to seek restitution, collectively they can easily add up to thousands of dollars. The easier it is to uncover these events, the earlier dishonest employees will be found out. This reduces the average amount of theft over time, putting margin back into the cash register.

"I’m a realist. Theft will happen. There’s a Harvard study that says statistically you should assume three to five percent theft in your business. It’s never going to be zero, but Solink helps us keep it closer to the three percent side of that range. We have a program called ‘Find Your Theft’ to keep the general managers focused on shrinkage. In that sense, Solink definitely pays for itself with the time and money I save.”

Computer monitor displaying a live surveillance video feed of a busy restaurant interior with customers dining.

The Result:
A security system that pays for itself

When theft is uncovered, Andolini’s Worldwide’s policy is to terminate the employee. In America, this can mean a battle with the unemployment insurance provider on whether the employee was fired for cause. Lee Record can now quickly prove the theft using Solink, present the evidence to the employee, and get them to sign off on the termination. That saves the hassle of fighting with the unemployment insurance office and reduces their insurance premiums.

"I look into our Toast POS data daily. When I notice something strange, it almost always means there’s theft. I’m on top of the data, so it’s usually less than $200 total. For that reason, it’s not so much about finding all of the theft and restitution but weeding out dishonest staff and saving the evidence needed to prove that the dismissal was with cause. I review the employee’s transactions until I’m satisfied with the evidence gathered and then show the employee what I’ve found."

Solink integrates with over 200 partners, including Toast POS. This integration allows businesses to see video footage paired to every transaction.

“The Solink integration with Toast POS works great. I've never had an issue."

Solink was able to breathe new life into Andolini’s Worldwide’s aging security hardware. The quality of video shown in their previous system was too low to be useful. However, not only was Solink able to use the existing hardware, saving tens of thousands of dollars in upfront costs, the resulting video quality was better than ever.

"Solink’s service is outstanding, and way better than what we were used to with our previous security system. When reviewing video in the previous system, the security cameras were so bad that they were almost useless. I was prepared to replace all of them when Solink’s Customer Success Department reviewed them and said they were actually pretty good cameras. Turns out our old system was throttling the video quality, so now I can actually use our cameras to their full potential. That was a great bonus, and emblematic of the way you guys care about your customers."

Now that the cameras are showing a clear image and are easy to search through, Andolini’s Worldwide is tackling a lot of other operational issues. For example, to save time and money, as well as provide a consistent product, employees have been instructed to pre-weigh and bag cheese. With Solink, it’s easy to confirm whether this is happening and reinforce the requirement with employees who are not doing it.

“The pizza business is really the cheese business. I follow the price of cheese on the market exchange. Weighing cheese for each pizza is tedious, but it’s necessary to hit the cost expectations. To make the kitchens more efficient, we’ve instructed staff to pre-weigh and bag the cheese. I can now audit this behavior using Solink and coach those who aren’t doing it consistently."

Another place Solink can help is vendor relations. While Andolini’s Worldwide actually owns the commissary kitchen that prepares all the toppings, it’s operated as a separate entity. Lee Record is able to track down issues with deliveries to tighten up these operations.

“Our stores are very busy, and we do everything fresh. That means we don’t really have stock rotation issues, but we do sometimes have delivery ones. Our supplier is an internal prep kitchen so while it’s still all ultimately the same business, we operate the commissary kitchen as a separate business. If someone tells me ‘hey, the driver didn’t bring an item’ or ‘they didn’t properly unload the produce,’ I can just check in Solink. Sometimes it’s just as easy as seeing that the driver put something on the wrong shelf so the kitchen staff couldn’t find it. I can now track down missing inventory in a couple minutes."

In Andolini’s Worldwide words

“Solink is our partner. We partner with Solink and we're happy to do it because we get what we need out of it. The customer service is fantastic. The quality of the product is fantastic. I have zero complaints."

“Signing up with Solink, I was surprised by just how much time theft from managers we were experiencing. Getting the productivity we need from those salaries has been a huge ROI.”

“For the price, Solink is the best camera system on the market.”

Andolini’s Worldwide three favorite features

Motion Search eliminates the need to fast forward through hours of video footage. Solink automatically shows you all video clips in an area of interest where there is movement. This helps you find instances of shoplifting or time theft in minutes.

Events Search gives you the ability to quickly find events matching your search criteria and then review the paired video. Whether it is access control entries or POS transactions, easily find the events you need to review.
Solink pairs video with transaction data from your POS and then overlays the receipt without a text inserter box. Discount abuse, void reports, and other high-risk transactions can be reviewed in minutes to track down theft in your business.

Camera Linking

Solink’s Camera Linking automatically creates associations between cameras by detecting motion patterns across adjacent fields of view. When reviewing footage in Solink’s video player, you can navigate from one camera to another intuitively without prior knowledge of the site’s layout.

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Timothy Warelinked in icon email icon

Solink stands at the forefront of security solutions, excelling in loss prevention and asset protection for businesses. Our content is rich in industry expertise and crafted to provide actionable insights and innovative strategies. We empower businesses to enhance their security systems, optimize operations, and protect their assets more effectively. Discover how our advanced cloud video management system can transform your security approach.