Since 2004, Luna Grill Restaurants have grown to about 50 locations in Southern California and Texas. This fast-casual, family-owned chain offers up made-to-order Mediterranean cuisine “inspired from the heart and kitchen of our family.”
Challenge: ‘Hodgepodge’ video surveillance system high in aggravation, low on usability
Luna Grill suffered from a problem common to growing restaurant chains. New locations in new cities had led to a “hodgepodge of video surveillance systems,” said Jack Ahrens, the company’s Director of Information Technology.
This left Ahrens and his team with poor visibility into losses and discrepancies at the point of sale. Onsite DVRs could be down for weeks or even months at a time before anyone realized it.
Incidents that required investigation usually ended up on Ahrens’ desk, where his only recourse was to budget the time to review hours of footage, provided that it had been retained. Even then, “these old systems had no functionality to leverage the footage in a way that is beneficial for law enforcement, insurance claims or whatever the cause of the escalation,” he said.
The search began for a new system that could drive health monitoring of video retention and management across the entire chain and offer seamless integration with his existing POS system, all without having to rip and replace existing cameras.
“We were looking for an alternative that was cloud-based and would enable us to easily train our people so that they could use it with a minimal learning curve,” Ahrens said. “Linking with POS was also a critical component of the selection process.”
Solution: Cloud-based integration drives fast, low-cost deployment
Working with its professional loss prevention partner, Eye on your Brand, Luna Grill investigated a number of options. It came down to a head-to-head trial between two contenders, OpenEye and Solink.
Deployment began just as the pandemic struck in March 2020. For the next several months, Solink rolled out at select locations where onsite legacy systems were failing. By the end of July, Luna Grill had ramped up its Solink deployment to 10 locations a week.
How was this accelerated rollout possible? Solink didn’t require the same costly and extensive new hardware investments as the other options which Ahrens had investigated. Thanks to Solink’s intelligent, cloud-based platform, Solink could optimize Ahrens budget to replace on cameras.
“Solink’s platform made it easy to determine what equipment was at its end of life,” Ahrens said.
Solink’s dedicated training team quickly trained Luna Grill’s staff on the use of the cloud surveillance platform.
“Considering that we are putting this in the hands of location managers who may not be technical, Solink’s ease of use is a big advantage,” Ahrens said. “Our team was able to quickly leverage the platform.”
Benefits: Dramatic time savings, custom control, powerful insight into POS data
With Solink’s cloud-based backup, Ahrens and his team never again have to worry about data retention and security – video will always be archived for easy retrieval. Solink’s 24-7 network and hardware monitoring also takes a load off the shoulders of Luna Grill’s IT team.
Location managers now have the tools to quickly investigate suspected transactions at the POS that they would have otherwise brushed off before thanks to Solink’s forensic analysis of the data.
“With the way we can now pull footage remotely, means we can investigate an event and take appropriate action in a tenth of the time as before,” Ahrens said.
He also appreciates the added security of being able to enforce Access Control restrictions by regional managers and other users, to ensure they are only doing so for work-related purposes.
Ahrens already expects it will substantially shorten and improve the process for the quarterly audits which the loss prevention team performs for each location.
Beyond that, Ahrens considers Solink unmatched for its overall user experience.
“With our old system, I wouldn’t even try to access it through my laptop because it was such a resource hog and so difficult to use,” he said. “I am in my Solink dashboard every day. It’s reliable, it’s easy, and it gives us powerful insight into our points of sale that we never had before.”