RESTAURANT SECURITY CAMERAS: a “How to” guide for QSR, Full Service and Fast Casual restaurant owners, franchisees and operators.
It’s important to have a good security camera system in your restaurant for several reasons, many of which you might not even be aware of. With the right number of cameras, proper placement and camera types, you can easily:
- Reduce theft.
- Save money.
- Improve processes and operations.
Whether you just opened up a restaurant or have been in the industry for years, this guide should provide you with the information necessary to install the best security camera system for your needs. Regardless of the size of your establishment or how many locations you operate, security cameras are an essential part of protecting your people, patrons and profits.
Keep in mind that security cameras are just one step in securing your business; you can maximize value from your camera system when you pair it with a powerful security software like Solink.
This guide will help you understand:
- The type, style, make and model of security cameras best suited for your restaurant.
- How many cameras you should install.
- Where to place cameras in your restaurant.
- How you can integrate your cameras with software to save you time and money.
So, here are the 8 things to go through when upgrading or installing a new restaurant security camera system:
1. What Type of Cameras Do I Need?
You can choose from one of two different types of cameras for your restaurant – analog cameras and IP cameras.
An analog security camera system (also known as CCTV cameras) is the older of the two and relies on a digital video recorder (DVR) device. Analog cameras use coaxial cables to connect to the central DVR and also require an additional power cable.
Analog cameras provide a lower quality video experience compared to IP cameras, but they are the cheaper option of the two. You also cannot cover a large space with analog cameras because the cameras must be placed within 300 feet of the DVR box (this can be solved with repeaters, however).
IP security cameras connect to a network video recorder (NVR). These cameras are wired via an ethernet cable and do not require an external power source. IP cameras offer higher video quality than analog – typically between 2 megapixel (MP) (1080p) to 12MP (4K) resolution with 30 frames per second.
It is easier to find and install an IP security camera system than analog.
For a restaurant security camera system, we would recommend IP security cameras, especially if you do not have an existing camera system. While analog is cheaper, the setup and reliance on external power can cause issues in the long run; analog technology is also outdated and there is a limited supply for these types of cameras, which means higher maintenance costs.
For a more comprehensive breakdown of analog and IP cameras, check out our DVR vs NVR article.
2. What Style of Camera Should I Purchase?
There are four relevant styles of security cameras you can consider for your restaurant:
- 360 Camera
Dome cameras are the most popular and affordable options of the four styles mentioned. They are durable and will serve most of your security camera needs for a typical restaurant space. Out of the four camera styles mentioned here, we recommend purchasing dome cameras for most of the areas of your restaurant.
Turret cameras are an option if you want more clarity at night – which may be a factor if you turn the lights off at night and want to record a clearer picture during non-operational hours at your restaurant. Overall though, we do not see many of our customers in the restaurant industry use turret cameras and a dome camera will serve the same purpose.
Consider bullet cameras for special cases. Bullet cameras provide better night vision, infrared capabilities and are the ideal choice for outdoors because they are weather resistant. Bullet cameras make the most sense as an outdoor camera in colder climates, but in areas that remain relatively warm throughout the year you might be able to use a dome/turret camera outside.
Bullet cameras also cost the most out of the three options. You might want to put a bullet camera in a freezer, for instance, because of the infrared capability and weather resistance.
Finally, a 360 camera is a great option if you want to cover a lot of space at once – for example, the dining area or kitchen. While 360 cameras can typically cost more – up to $600 – they also replace roughly four regular dome cameras.
If you use a 360 camera with a software such as Solink, you can also view the area with a 360 viewer by either clicking and dragging or using tilt sensors on a device such as a smartphone or tablet.
3. What Camera Brands Should I Buy?
Avoid purchasing non-NDAA compliant cameras (Hikvision and Dahua are banned in the U.S.).
If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, this article provides more information.
So, what security camera brands are safe to purchase?
The best options we can recommend are Hanwha,Axis and Uniview cameras. Please note that there are other brands we would also recommend, depending on your setup.
If you’re a Solink customer, we can help source these cameras and get you the best deal. If you are interested in using Solink, check out our list of supported cameras.
4. How Much Do Cameras Cost?
Camera price depends on the make, model and type of camera, as well as where you purchase from.
- IP dome and turret style cameras can range from $100 on the low end to $600 on the higher end, per camera.
- Analog cameras can go for as little as $40 to $180.
- Bullet cameras can range from $200 to $600 per camera.
- 360 cameras can be purchased for around $600 per camera.
Popular models include:
- Hanwha QND-6011: $175.99 USD
- QND-6022R: $199 USD
If you do decide to use Solink, we can integrate with almost any camera. While we do recommend certain cameras (and we can help you get the best cameras for your restaurant at the best price), we don’t require you to have any specific model or setup in place.
5. How Many Cameras Do I Need?
The number of cameras that you should purchase and install in your restaurant varies. Many of Solink’s quick service restaurant (QSR) customers operate in the restaurant industry and we typically see an average of 10 cameras per 1000 square feet.
It also depends on where you place your cameras (camera placement is covered in the next section) and what type of restaurant you operate. You can roughly estimate how many cameras you need based on the following type of restaurant:
Quick Service (QSR): 10 cameras/1000 square feet.
Here are some examples of QSR restaurants and average square footage for each space:
- McDonald’s: 4,500 square feet (45 cameras required)
- Chick-fil-A: 4,200 square feet (42 cameras required)
- Burger King: 3,500 square feet (35 cameras required)
These numbers are averages and each owner/operator should assess their location size. The statistics above were taken directly from Statista.
Fast Casual: 10 cameras/1000 square feet.
Full Service: 12-15 cameras/1000 square feet, plus cover anywhere alcohol is served, stored and poured.
6. Where Do I Install Security Cameras in my Restaurant?
Remote video surveillance works best with comprehensive video coverage. To achieve this, you should place cameras in the following locations of your restaurant:
- Facing every door in your restaurant, regardless of purpose (except bathroom interior). One camera should face the entrance to the door, while another should face the exit to the same door:
- Any areas where cash is handled, managed and where transactions occur (cash register area, for instance):
- Any area where there is risk of falling, tripping or slipping – this includes outdoor walkways, parking lots and the lobby and kitchen areas.
- Areas prone to hazards (areas with chemicals, hot and cold areas such as the kitchen, freezer and fridge).
- Key customer touch points – locations in the restaurant where it is important to keep an eye on customers such as the lineup area. Outside, consider key customer areas such as a drive-thru, curbside pickup and parking.
- With drive-thru, you should have one camera facing the menu board(s) and one camera per drive-thru window. If there is a “merge point” in the case of two drive-thru lanes, place a camera facing the merge point so that you can keep track of cars as they merge towards the drive-thru window area.
- Use a 360 camera for the dining area if possible to capture all tables at once. You can consider a 360 camera for the kitchen as well. Just make sure to use 360 cameras only in open space with minimal barriers – anything that obstructs or limits your view may hinder your security experience.
7. What Other Equipment Do I Need (Besides Cameras)?
With an analog camera setup, you will need a Digital Video Recorder device. With an IP camera setup, which we recommend you choose if you do not have an existing camera system, you require a Network Video Recorder.
You can really get the most value out of your security camera system with an integrated software. Without software, you will spend too much time scrolling through and watching video feeds of your restaurant without much purpose.
With software like Solink, you can connect your cameras to an accessible interface that allows you to navigate between your cameras and restaurant locations (if you have more than one restaurant across multiple geographical locations).
What’s more is that you can connect the software to your POS system to tie transaction data and video footage together. Doing so helps you monitor transactions, stop theft and ultimately save you tons of time and money.
Software integrated with your restaurant security camera system allows you to:
- Easily spot and stop employee theft. We can provide a personalized demo of Solink if you are interested in locating and stopping theft.
- Navigate to specific moments in your video feed using a motion search tool, instead of scrolling through hours of video footage at a time.
- Monitor drive-thru speed of service.
- Dispute third-party delivery order chargebacks which can commonly occur with apps such as Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash.
- Receive health alerts that notify you when a camera is no longer working and needs to be fixed/replaced.
8. How can Software Help Me with a Restaurant Security System?
Software taps into your existing security system and helps you get value in the following ways:
- Loss prevention: With Solink, you can connect your POS system transactions with your security camera setup. This means you can compare transaction and video data side-by-side – which can help you catch and stop employee theft, for instance.
- Security: Solink offers video surveillance capabilities tied directly to your cameras. You can set up an alert system by tracking motion during non-operational hours to add an extra layer of security to your locations.
- Operations: Keep track of your employees and all locations from one software interface. So if you have a security camera system across multiple restaurants throughout the world, you can use one software to monitor them all.
Look For Theft
You can use Solink to look for both employee or customer theft. It’s especially easy to audit your video footage for employee theft because of the integration with your POS system.
You can search for common transaction types and keywords throughout your POS system that employees might use to cover up theft (Manager Discount, Void, Refunds, etc). You can then look at the transaction as it happens via your security camera.
Here’s an example of how you can catch employee theft using Solink:
1. Type Manager and Discount into Solink’s search bar. Employees can often give themselves manager discounts when they are not a manager, which results in theft from the business.
2. You can review all of the POS transactions that have “manager discount” in them. You can click on the video thumbnail associated with the transaction to navigate straight to the video at the day and time it occurred:
3. Review the video to see if this is in fact a manager or simply an employee punching in the manager discount:
Without Solink, you do not have the navigation tools necessary to comb through hours and hours of video footage across multiple restaurant locations. Solink gives you the power to leverage your security camera system and prevent loss in the long-term.
Set Up a Video Alarm
Solink allows you to use software and restaurant security cameras as a video surveillance system.
Use motion detection to receive an alert if any suspicious activity occurs in your restaurant after hours. You can also subscribe to a service that monitors your locations for you – so if an alert is triggered, a professional will review your alarm and determine if it was an accidental alarm or if police need to be dispatched.
Using your existing security camera system as an alarm system can save you time and money on false alarms – especially when more than 90 percent of alarms turn out to be false.
Save Video Clip
Solink allows you to convert your security camera footage into a video clip which you can save to your local device (computer, phone, tablet). This is going to be crucial when you need to provide video evidence of theft or break-in to the police or insurance, for example.
It’s also great to have the option to save video clips for use later on. Video footage can make a great training tool for other employees for instance, especially if you can capture examples of good and bad processes at your restaurant.
Review Employee Performance
You can also leverage your security system with Solink to review employee productivity. Solink offers a motion search tool that allows you to “draw” over an area in your video feed and then instantly reveal the number of times motion occurs in that area.
You can use motion search to “draw” over the break room door for example – and get a sense of when your employees enter and exit the break room.
In the image below, someone has used Solink to do this very thing – they have drawn a line in the general area of the break room, which then reveals blue bars – motion events – along the bottom of the video player timeline. From there, you can navigate to these motion events and determine if employees are taking breaks during normal times.
Monitor Drive-Thru Speed of Service
Solink can connect directly to your HME drive-thru timer to give you insights into the speed of drive-thru service. Along with video of your drive-thru and a helpful dashboard that features your sales data, you can better understand drive-thru transactions.
You can learn more about this and book a demo here.
Conclusion – Why Security Cameras are Important in Restaurants
Whether you’re a small or large restaurant, quick service or fast casual, the benefits of a reliable security system are clear. When you buy the right cameras and place them in the right locations throughout your restaurant – and when you integrate your cameras with software – the system will pay for itself.
In the end, a good restaurant security system combined with excellent software can save you time, money and protect your restaurant.