Category Archives for Uncategorized

20 Top Resources for Facilities Managers

ResourcesFrom the smallest office building to the biggest schools, every facility has ongoing maintenance and management needs. Here’s a helpful list of the top 20 resources to check when your next issue comes up.

1- Buildings.com

Buildings.com bills itself as a site for smarter facilities management, and it comes through on that promise. Don’t miss the free educational courses for brushing up on maintenance issues.

2- The SMRP Library

Need facts or metrics? The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals has a terrific library of research, ebooks, whitepapers, and more. When you need to justify the cost of new equipment or training, start here for background research.

3- Buildium.com

With a focus on property management, Buildium is an alliance of current and former renters who are devoted to working hand-in-hand with property managers. The site is full of insights, from a customer’s perspective.

4- OSHA

No list of resources would be complete without a connection to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Their site is packed with information about workplace safety and best practices for hazard reduction at your facility.

5- ADA Standards

Is your facility totally compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Use this site to make sure, and to plan for future upgrades that are ADA compliant.

6- Facilities Manager Magazine

This nonprofit magazine is devoted to educating facility managers about the latest news in operations, solutions, and creative strategies in the field. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s interested in the bigger picture of operations management.

7- Cleaning and Maintenance Management Magazine

Stay ahead of green and sustainable cleaning methods with this helpful online magazine. It also addresses management issues like technology, hiring, and continuing education.

8- International Facility Management Association

Learn from a worldwide group of facility management professionals. IFMA hosts events around the globe and is always on the cutting edge of new methods, like technology-assisted facility management.

9- Building Owners and Managers Association

BOMA International is an educational and advocacy organization for commercial real estate. Their site is a great place to learn about building codes, legislation, trends, and other big issues that affect building management.

10- SMRP Conference

It’s consistently ranked as one of the top conferences in the world for facilities managers. Learn from experts and try hands-on activities that enhance your knowledge. If you can’t attend the big event, SMRP also has online educational offerings.

11- RELIABILITY Conference

This is a next-level conference for building owners who want to learn more about asset management and tech solutions.

12- Maintenance Manager App

If you haven’t tried an app for maintenance management, here’s one to check out. Available for free in iTunes, it allows you to assign work orders, track issues, and interact with your service team. It’s a great productivity booster.

13- Capterra Ranking Tool

It can be hard to find reliable reviews for maintenance software. Capterra offers a free list, with rankings from real maintenance professionals. The site includes paid listings too, but they’re not ranked more highly than the rest, according to Capterra.

14- BOMA Awards

These awards are truly something to strive for. Companies that have BOMA 360 designation are preferred partners for many superstar companies in industries like hotels, healthcare, construction, and design.

15- Green/LEED Certification

Pursue LEED certification as a green business by connecting with GBCI, the certifying organization. Their site is a great resource for sustainable facility management methods and information about earth-friendly choices.

16- NFPA Certification

The National Fire Protection Association offers certification for various critical issues related to fire, power, and building safety.

17- Facility Management Innovator Podcast

This information-packed podcast discusses trends in the industry and interviews well-known people in facility management. If you’re interested in innovation, it’s a great resource.

18- Inc. Uncensored

Prefer your business management news in a short, catchy format? Try Inc. Uncensored. It focuses on surprising facts and business trends that affect industries around the world.

19- Facility Management Handbook

This book is an all-in-one guide to facility management. Make sure your building supervisor has a copy and put it in the hands of new employees to help them hit the ground running.

20- Sustainable Facility Management: Optimizing Building Performance

Technology is reshaping how buildings are managed, and this book explains the changes in detail. Use it to help your operation evolve to a new level.

Want more resources like these? Click here for a longer list of facilities management resources from ServiceMaster.

Opportunity Makes A Thief: What Causes Employees To Steal (And How To Keep It From Happening To You)

Although we know it’s wrong, statistics show that there are some people who can’t seem to resist the urge to steal. It’s easy to assume that those who commit crimes like these couldn’t possibly be people you know, but the truth is that they could be individuals you’ve personally hired — or even ones you implicitly trust. That can have huge implications for your business, from inventory and revenue loss to bankruptcy filings.

Think this couldn’t possibly happen to your organization? Think again. Data shows that it’s far more common than you’d think, and virtually every business is at risk for employee theft. Even your definition of what employee theft is might be skewed; it’s possible that you may have once committed employee theft without even knowing it! In order to adequately protect your business, you need to first understand the massive scope of the problem, what’s actually involved, and what pushes an employee to commit theft.

Let’s Start With Some Startling Employee Theft Facts:

 

  • 75% of all employees have stolen from their employer at least once and half of those workers steal repeatedly

 

  • Every year, employees steal $50 billion from U.S. businesses
  • Businesses lose approximately 7% of their total revenue to theft or fraud
  • One-third of business failures and bankruptcies are caused by employee theft
  • An employee is 15 times more likely to steal from a business than an outsider is
  • Three-quarters of employee crimes go undetected, and many are never reported — even when employees are caught
  • According to the American Society of Employers, 20% of workers are aware of fraud that’s taken place at their companies and 44% say their employers could do more to reduce fraud

What Does Employee Theft Entail?

You can probably guess that employee theft involves stealing something from a business in some shape or form. But this crime actually covers more than you might have thought. In addition to outright stealing, an employee can also be guilty of theft if they use or misuse assets without permission. The “assets” component is key, as this implies an employee theft can take place even if there isn’t any missing money or product involved.

Yes, employee theft can cover missing intake from the cash drawer or purloined inventory. Money is the most common asset that employees steal, of course, but there are other possibilities too. It might seem rather innocuous to take office supplies or food from your place of employment, but that counts as employee theft. Taking merchandise or company property that could be sold also counts for obvious reasons.

There are two examples of employee theft that may really surprise you. Information theft — stealing product designs, formulas, trade secrets, confidential data, and other proprietary information — can be a huge problem for many businesses, especially in the digital age. Employees don’t have to figure out a way to steal a physical document anymore; they simply need to access a computer file or network with a few clicks of a mouse. And time theft can also be a substantial issue. If an employee has falsified their timekeeping records or simply doesn’t do their work while clocked in, this also falls under the category of employee theft. While this last example can be difficult to prove, especially if your business operates under any kind of honor system, the bottom line is that it still costs a company money in some way.

Why Do Employees Steal In The First Place?

We’ve covered the fact that employees do steal, as well as the assets they can potentially take. But what would cause an employee to do this at all? While some circumstances — like a compulsion, revenge for a perceived slight, or dire financial straits — could push an employee over the edge, the simplest answer to this question is because they can.

Whether an employee feels they aren’t being compensated fairly for their efforts, they have debts to pay, or they simply want to see what they can get away with, the specific reasons don’t necessarily matter. Here’s what does matter: if you have vulnerabilities within your organization, you’ll likely have employees who will try to take advantage. This may sound pessimistic, but that harsh dose of reality should motivate you to protect your business from employee fraud.

How Businesses Can Prevent Employee Theft

Regardless of industry or size, all businesses need to take precautions to prevent employee theft. But knowing where to start can be difficult. It’s also important to note that your prevention efforts must be ongoing. Not only do you need to establish these practices, but you’ll need to remain vigilant in your evaluation and enforcement. To dissuade employees from theft, consider the following tips:

Restrict Access To Assets

A common mistake made by countless business owners is a failure to safeguard information and property. Forgetting to ask for that extra set of office keys back or neglecting regular password changes can have astronomical consequences for your business. Of course, it’s important to restrict access to inventory or an on-site safe, but don’t forget about digital crime. Limiting your employees’ access to your network and/or specific files based on the time of day or their job position can be helpful. Don’t forget to remove their permissions if their employment status changes in any way. Passwords should be changed on a frequent basis to ensure compliance. (As an added bonus, this will thwart outside hackers, too!)

Invest in Surveillance and Security

Let’s face it: you can’t have eyes on your employees all the time. That’s why it’s important to use surveillance cameras and alarm systems. These tools can offer you peace of mind in spots you can’t normally monitor or during times that don’t require your physical presence. Whether you run a retail store, a restaurant, a healthcare facility, or a corporate office, even the threat of security footage can be enough to convince employees to not commit a crime. Plus, if and when employee theft ever occurs, you’ll be able to know exactly what occurred and when. It should go without saying that you’ll need to restrict access to your security systems to prevent possible tampering.

Conduct Risk Assessments and Train Employees

In many cases, businesses may not even be aware of the vulnerabilities within their own organization. After all, if you don’t know where the weaknesses are, it can be tough to address them. That’s why conducting risk assessments can be extremely beneficial. By hiring an expert to perform an assessment of the areas in which your business is lacking — be it in your network infrastructure or your physical inventory warehouses — you’ll get a much clearer idea of what you need to fix. You can then review recommendations made by those conducting the risk assessment and train your employees accordingly. Increased training opportunities have been shown to decrease an individual’s motive to commit fraud. Not only will you show employees that you’re serious about your policies, but you’ll also make them part of the solution and foster a better culture.

Consider Inventory Tracking Software

If you’re still keeping track of your business’s inventory with a spreadsheet, you’re already in trouble. No doubt, that information is outdated at best and dangerously inaccurate at worst. Fortunately, we live in the age of tech — so there are now much better alternatives than a written account or an Excel spreadsheet. Inventory tracking software is used for everything from retail stores to government organizations. Because these programs track products in real time, everything will be accounted for. Whether your inventory is damaged due to unavoidable conditions or pure accidents or it’s stolen in an employee scheme, you’ll always know exactly what’s missing. Remember to keep track of both your supply inventory and your product inventory, if applicable, since both are prone to employee theft.

Reassess Your Hiring Practices

It’s important to remember that virtually any employee has the capability to steal. That said, your hiring practices could make the potential for employee theft more likely than it needs to be. A failure to conduct thorough background checks for job candidates can lead to costly mistakes later on. You’ll want to search for an employee’s criminal history and may want to consider conducting a drug test before extending an offer. Many employers will even check a candidate’s social media profiles to get a more complete idea of their personality and regular activities. While you should never let stereotypes cloud your judgment, you should be cautious about who you hire. One rash decision could result in thousands of dollars in losses for your business.

Set Up an Anonymous Tip Line

Remember that statistic about employees who know there’s something shady going on at work? You can make it safe and easy for these employees to speak up by setting up a confidential tip line to report possible instances of crime. Although you don’t want to encourage employees to turn on each other without merit, a phone tip line, an email address, or even a special suggestion box can encourage workers to do right by your company and report suspicious activity. Some businesses incentivize people to speak out against employee theft, but that may not be appropriate in every case. Keep in mind that even if you don’t receive many tips at all, the existence of the tip line itself can convince would-be thieves not to go through with their plan; if they know their coworkers are on the lookout, they might realize it’s too big a risk to take.

Monitor Employee Breaks and Tasks

Micromanaging your employees can definitely backfire. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re being treated like a child while at work. But that doesn’t mean you should trust your employees to follow the rules. While one person might think it’s harmless to clock back in while they’re still eating their lunch or take more smoke breaks than they’re allowed, that time theft ultimately harms your business. All employees should have a clear idea of what is and isn’t allowed in terms of their work breaks. That way, ignorance is absolutely no excuse.

In addition, you might not think it’s a big deal for an employee to take a private phone call in the back of your store or take out the garbage. But there are some workers who will take advantage of your trust and use these opportunities to commit crimes. For example, a retail employee may disguise merchandise as trash, hide it in the garbage dumpster, and retrieve it later unnoticed. In this situation, businesses should utilize clear garbage bags, lock all dumpsters, and restrict access for employees. The “buddy system” can also be of help here, particularly where inventory and financial transactions are involved. Two employees should work opening and closing shifts to limit opportunities for theft, and all refunds should be witnessed by a manager. This may not be enough stop higher-level employees from committing theft — they may think they’re above these procedures — but these policies can make a huge difference, especially when they’re used in conjunction with the other tips outlined here.

A Few Important Points To Remember:

  • Trust no one.
    This isn’t to say you won’t have dependable, trustworthy employees. But it does mean that you shouldn’t make assumptions about human behavior. Just because an individual has been in your employ for years doesn’t mean they’re devoid of the temptation to steal. In many cases, an employee who steals is someone who’s also highly trusted. And often, these individuals are first-time offenders. Don’t assume that prior good behavior or company loyalty will discourage someone with unrestricted access to “do the right thing.” 
  • You’ve gotta walk the walk.
    It’s not enough to just put protective measures in place; you need to follow them to the letter in every single instance. If procedures are not followed 100% of the time, that leaves your business vulnerable to those who might take advantage. In the same vein, it’s important to follow a strict no-tolerance policy, regardless of who commits an infraction. Whether they’re an entry level employee or a top executive, they should be treated exactly the same if they are caught. In other words, set clear policies and always follow through. 
  • If you’re a small business owner, beware.
    While big corporations might seem like a more likely target for employee theft (more employees means more anonymity and perhaps more opportunities to steal), data suggests that small businesses are actually more vulnerable to it. Because small businesses have fewer workers, these workers often have higher autonomy levels within the company itself. That, coupled with the fact that most small businesses have increased financial constraints for combating theft and conducting audits, gives these employees more opportunities to commit a crime. In addition, employee fraud costs small businesses more than it does for larger businesses, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — and because those costs matter more to small businesses than big corporations, they ultimately do more harm.  

Remember the 10-10-80 rule.
It’s believed that 10% of employees will never steal and 10% always will. That remaining 80% may be on the fence but will steal given the opportunity. That means it’s vital that you not give any employee — regardless of their standing within your company or what their behavior suggests — the chance to steal time, product, revenue, or information.

Employee Theft Is Common, But It Doesn’t Have To Happen

For businesses of all kinds, employee theft is a constant threat. But you can mitigate your risk by educating yourself and taking these important preventative steps. If your employees don’t have the chance to steal, most won’t even try to get away with it. Make sure that your business is protected with the proper tools, like security cameras and software, and that you do everything in your power to limit access — and therefore, opportunity to commit theft.

Top 25 Business Networking Groups in Queens, NY

Business Networking GroupsNetworking is an essential part of growing your business. Not only will you gain clients, you’ll gain credibility as you learn more about other area businesses, as well as learn from the successes of others.

Below you will find information on Chambers of Commerce, referral networking groups, special interest networking groups, and professional development and networking groups in Queens, NY.

We’ve done the legwork, finding the top networking groups in Queens, now it’s up to you to make the next move!

Chambers of Commerce and Business Development Centers

1. Queens Chamber of Commerce
Fostering connections, education, development and advocacy for members. Member benefits include on-going referral programs, business assistance with financial and legal referrals, advocacy regarding issues with government agencies, discounts on prescriptions, travel, energy, office supplies, and more. https://www.queenschamber.org

2. Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is the collective voice representing and advocating for our diverse business community.  We are dedicated to fostering economic growth, diversity, and prosperity of Greater Flushing through advocacy, networking, and education. http://flushingchamber.nyc

3. Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways
The Rockaway Chamber of Commerce serves the beach community of Rockaway, Queens. https://www.facebook.com/Rockaway-Chamber-of-Commerce-200323140122994/

4. Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce
Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce offers monthly meetings, networking opportunities, area events, advocacy and representation in community affairs. https://www.foresthillschamberofcommerce.org

5. Business Outreach Center of Queens
Offering a wide range of services to the small business community in Queens, including education, information, and assistance with starting up, business planning, marketing, financial management, mentoring and networking. http://www.bocnet.org/boc/queens.html

6. Queens Economic Development Corporation
Creating and retaining jobs, revitalizing small business, and assisting entrepreneurs through workshops, business planning assistance, individual counseling, promotion and networking opportunities. https://www.queensny.org/qedc/

Special Interest Business Networking

7. Queens Women’s Business Center
Supports women business owners and entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses with workshops, training, one on one counseling, mentorships and networking. https://www.queensny.org/qedc/business/programs/wbc/

8. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens supports the growth and development of Hispanic-owned businesses in Queens.  Benefits include low-cost advertising, networking opportunities, seminars, workshops and more. http://www.hccq.org

9. Ellevate, New York Chapter
Ellevate is a professional women’s network dedicated to helping women succeed professionally through connecting, continuing education, and investment. https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/chapters/55-us-new-york

10. Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners of Northeast Queens
Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners in Northeast Queens is a platform for idea exchange, networking, and support. Join in and let’s help each other grow. https://www.meetup.com/Black-Entrepreneurs-Business-Owners-of-Northeast-Queens/

11. New Horizons Young Professionals Group
The New Horizons Young Professionals Group is a dynamic group of young professionals committed to promoting the Queens Center for Progress to the local business community and creating networking opportunities for all members of the group. http://www.queenscp.org/2016/12/08/update-new-horizons-young-professional-group/

12. Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Network
WEPN is a forum for positive, success-minded women entrepreneurs and professionals to connect and share ideas, with a commitment to fostering quality business relationships. https://www.meetup.com/wepn-com/

13. Out Professionals Networking Groups

Out Professionals is committed to networking within the LGBT community. Join other motivated professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners for a friendly breakfast or lunch to network, swap ideas, and share experiences. It’s a terrific opportunity to connect with others who share your drive for success – and understand your challenges. http://www.outprofessionals.org/b2b-network-groups/

14. NYC Women Technpreneurs Group
A group dedicated to women in technology that are looking to start or have started their own technology company. Connect with other women in technology, showcase your startup to tech investors, find resources for female technology entrepreneurs, discuss top technology trends and hear from industry experts! https://www.meetup.com/NYCWTE/

15. Queens Business Networking Group
A leader in hosting business networking events in Queens. Business networking events are held each month to introduce you to the most dynamic LGBT business professionals. https://www.meetup.com/The-Queens-Business-Networking-Group

Referral Groups

16. The Business Breakfast Club of Queens & Long Island
Meet business peers in a relaxed atmosphere, and get to know their area of expertise, giving members confidence in any referral decisions they make. http://bbcqli.com/index.php

17. BNI – Advantages
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. We are a dynamic group with integrity and enthusiasm. Come for a meeting, stay for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-advantages/

18. Jackson Heights Executive Breakfast
Small business owners can join in with other entrepreneurs, share strategies for business development in Northwest Queens over breakfast! https://www.meetup.com/Jackson-heights-Executive-Breakfast/events/239866024/

19. BNI – Cross Island Referral Network
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Visitors are welcome. Join us for a morning meeting, and if your business category is open, join in on the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-cross-island-referral-network/

20. Gotham City Networking – Queens Chapter
Our goal is to fully reflect the diverse community that we serve, enabling us to do business in a wide variety of neighborhoods, reaching across the Queens area. We welcome new members and new friends. http://www.gothamnetworking.com/m/groups/view/Queens

21. BNI – Dream Team
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. BNI Dream Team meets on Tuesdays at 7 am at the Georgia Diner. Join us for a meeting, stay for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-dream-team/

22. BNI – Elite Synergy
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Just one person per professional specialty is allowed in each chapter, so see if your category is open and lock out the competition! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-elite-synergy/

23. BNI – Maximum Returns
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Come for our meeting Wednesday mornings at 8 am at the Cross Bay Diner, join us for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-maximum-returns/

Professional Development and Networking Groups

24. Marketing Mastermind Exchange
The marketing world is changing every day. Collaborate with other professionals; marketing pros, social media marketers, and others seeking help in marketing. You are welcome to our regular networking and educational events. RSVPing is highly encouraged. Join us for our next meeting! https://www.meetup.com/Marketing-Mastermind-Exchange/

25. Toast of Queens – Toastmasters Club
Improve your public speaking and leadership skills in a comfortable and supportive environment. Networking after the meeting. Join us, guests are welcome! http://www.toastofqueens.toastmastersclubs.org

Best Places to Install Security Cameras in a Business

security camerasSecurity cameras are an important part of a business’s security plan. They’re known to deter theft by employees as well as customers, curb time-wasting behaviors, and can help identify suspects in the case of burglary. However, the placement of these cameras is key. If you have the camera pointed at the wrong place, why have the camera at all? Here are some of the best places to install security cameras for your business.

Exits and Entrances

Prominently featuring security cameras at the building’s entrances and exits will not just allow you to track who’s inside your building and how long they stay. The cameras can get a good look at anyone coming in and out and could act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing a crime. If you want to get a clear picture of a person’s face, it’s wise to place the camera near an item that will catch the eye, such as a TV monitor or prominent sign. When they turn to see the object, the camera will capture a full picture.

Points of Sale

Wherever there are cash registers, there should be cameras, of course. This will not only discourage customers from stealing but also employees. When you mount cameras at these spots, be sure that they’re pointed at the place where the customer would stand, and that the camera’s no more than seven feet high. If the camera is placed higher, you’ll get nothing more than an excellent view of the top of the customer’s head, which isn’t terribly helpful in identifying suspects.

Reception

In most businesses, the reception area is highly trafficked, so it should be covered by a security camera. You can do it subtly, if that’s your preference, as modern technology makes cameras so small they can easily be blended into your décor.

A security camera could be hidden in frames, smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, clocks, or anywhere else. However, keep in mind that there could be potential legal issues related to concealed cameras, so it might be wise to consult your state’s laws prior to utilizing such a camera.

Exterior

Of course, the average business’s assets aren’t kept outside of the building, but in many cases, crime starts outside. Not only would external security cameras protect the cars in the parking lot, but they would also keep tabs on employees when receiving shipments at loading docks. The cameras could record license plate numbers, assist law enforcement in the recovery of stolen goods, and provide employees who are burning the midnight oil with a sense of security as they enter the darkened parking lot.

Warehouses

Your warehouse is home to a great deal of valuable inventory and it can be a hotspot for theft, internal and external. How can you protect it? A security camera can be your eyes and ears when you’re not available to be on site. Mount them inside and outside to stop crime in its tracks. To get the best possible recording, keep your warehouse brightly lit at all times. If you can’t see the culprits, the camera’s presence is in vain.

Secluded Spots

While it might seem strange to put security cameras in places that are rarely visited, these spots are the places where crime is planned. One of the primary places that criminals use to put stolen goods is the dumpster— the employee will throw away the merchandise, and retrieve it later, or send an accomplice to retrieve it. This kind of activity will be curtailed if security cameras are present.

Installing security cameras will keep your business and your employees safe from harm. If you need assistance determining which cameras would best suit your needs, or if you need help installing them, contact us today for more information.

 

 

 

Four Flaws in Access Control Systems

access control systemsSecurity is foremost on the minds of many, and there are many new products that are meant to make your facility safer than ever through smart technology. Streamline Telecom offers a wide variety of products created specifically to help you lock down your home or business. However, even the most advanced security system can be circumvented with a not-so-cutting-edge methodology. Let’s explore some of the flaws in access control systems and how to avoid them.

Flaw #1— Door Propping or Levering

Say, for example, that a delivery driver is dropping off a shipment of supplies. He’s going to be making multiple trips with his hands full, so he props the door open to avoid having to dig out his key card or enter the code time after time. While he steps into his truck to grab some more boxes, an intruder slips in the door.  Additionally, doors can be easily levered open with a tool as simple as a screwdriver. A determined criminal could easily gain access into your building without bringing attention to himself. One way that technology could assist with this issue is to invest in an access control system that could detect open doors and notify security personnel, who would then investigate and shut the door or deter the criminal.

Flaw #2— Tailgating

An employee comes back to the office after lunch, and they open the side entrance door. As they walk through, someone approaches behind them. Their natural courtesy kicks in, and they hold the door for this person and the person enters the building without entering a key code or swiping a card. Unwittingly, the employee has allowed an unauthorized person to enter the building, exposing everyone within to risk. How can this behavior be curbed? Training is key. Conduct an intensive training session for every credentialed employee, ensuring that they understand the importance of security. Another option is to introduce a technique to restrict entry into the building to one person at a time, such as a turnstile or mantrap. Should more than one person attempt to enter, an alarm will sound, bringing security to investigate.

Flaw #3— Lost or Stolen Keys and Access Cards

Unfortunately, lost or stolen keys are unavoidable; humans make mistakes, and crimes happen. Sometimes, people loan their keys or access cards to friends and fail to get them back, or the keys are simply misplaced or stolen, never to be found again. When people are accustomed to tailgating to get in, they might not notice that they’re missing their key or card for days. However, it’s vital that you’re alerted as soon as the resident or employee realizes that the key or card is missing. If your access control system has the capability to electronically track keys or cards, this could be a tremendous money-saving option. Otherwise, you’d need to pay to have locks on a number of doors re-cored, which can really add up over time. With access cards, if you make them double as photo identification, it’s less likely that they would be loaned out, and employees would potentially remember to bring them more frequently.

Flaw #4— Hacking

When your system becomes more high-tech, it becomes exposed to the risk of hacking. Some organizations might think that simply because they remotely control their location via phone or computer, their data is protected; unfortunately, this is not the case. A determined thief could install malware into the device, getting instant access to a location without needing to make any direct contact. How can you protect your access control system? Encryption is a must. It will help to ensure that any user has the appropriate authentication and verification, and it will help to limit the inappropriate access to a location.

When your business or residence is subjected to unauthorized access, it can result in serious danger. The best way to combat this is to carefully consider which access control system will best reduce your risk. Streamline Telecom can help you choose the system that would be most suitable for your particular needs; contact us today to learn more!

Three Ways Cloud-Based Phone Systems Can Make Your Business More Professional

cloud based phone systemsAny small business knows it’s true – competition in the marketplace can be fierce. While it may drive you crazy sometimes and take you out of your comfort zone, it helps you stay sharp and forces you to seek out new technologies for better products and services.

One of those new technologies that could augment your business is a cloud based phone system. As a small business owner, installing such a communication system can enhance your professional image to customers. Its myriad of features and flexibilities can enable a business with only a few employees to operate like the big guys and seem larger and more professional to clients.

After all, when it comes to defining professionalism…It’s NOT the job you do; It’s HOW you do the job!

Cloud based phone systems, also called VoIP, uses the internet to make phone calls. Subscribers connect to it for a monthly fee. Cost-savings on local and long distance calls can be up to 90% and hosted platforms don’t require you to purchase expensive hardware that needs maintenance and installation.

Streamline Telecom can help you set up a new VoIP phone system, or help you transition from an analog system. The company we partner with to provide this service is 8X8, one of the most trusted cloud-based communications companies in the world. Their service is used by more than 47,000 businesses in over 40 countries across six continents.

A Cloud-based system from 8X8 offers many features. We’ve highlighted three of these below:

Ring Groups

Rings groups smoothly distribute incoming calls within various departments. You can have all phones in a group ring at once, or set up a “round robin” approach where the extensions in the group ring in a specific order until the call is answered. Nine ring groups are included with your Virtual Office account, but more can be added.

For example, if you are a small business with four employees, you can set up your ring group so all their phones ring at the same time. That way, whoever pick up first takes the call. Or, you can set it up to ring them in a certain order so they each get a turn answering incoming calls.

No more worrying about incoming calls being dropped by customers frustrated that their call was not answered right away. Ring groups can have any number assigned to it, such as a toll-free number. Calls can even be answered by Auto-Attendant or another extension.

Three ring patterns are available. Cyclic (rollover) allows for equal distribution of calls. Cyclic Repetitive allows for distribution among extensions based on a pre-set pattern. Simultaneous Ring ensures all extensions will ring on an incoming call, with the first person available answering the call.

Auto Attendant

Perfect for a small business that wants to appear larger, Auto Attendant answers the phone automatically for you. Instead of a receptionist, customers hear a message identifying your company and prompting them to select the department they desire by pressing or saying a number associated with that department.

Calls are routed quickly and efficiently to the right department. If your business has limited hours of operation, you can program Auto Attendant with different menus for business hours versus after-hours. You can record your own greetings, or use 8X8’s selection of professionally recorded greetings to enhance your image. Customers will be impressed by the professionalism of Auto Attendant.

Extension Dialing

Who doesn’t appreciate the ability to bypass a company’s VRU by directly dialing someone? Big companies offer this service, so why shouldn’t smaller ones? With 8X8 cloud-based service, this feature is available through our 4-digit model. It’s also available in 3-digit or 5-digit extension dialing.

Whether your business has 5 employees or 100, they all get their own direct phone number. Internal calling between employees only requires dialing those few digits. Transfers can be made quickly and you have the ability to tell the person at that extension about the call before completing the transfer.

If you have employees working in different locations, that’s no problem! Transfers are quick and seamless since they are only an extension away. Customers won’t even realize they are talking to someone at another location.

If all this sounds great, give us a call. Learn how YOUR business can add a touch of professionalism through installing an IP phone in New York.

Two High Profile Crimes Solved with Help from Security Camera Footage

Park your car. Walk into a store. Ride the subway. During all of these activities, it’s very likely that you are being recorded on security camera footage. In the western world, closed-circuit television or CCTV is used in the vast majority of public places to help prevent crime.

And since 9/11, security cameras seem to have sprouted on every building, parking garage, and traffic light. While some people have voiced concerns about civil liberties being compromised, it’s hard to argue with the statistics; crime dips as cameras roll.

Cities and businesses across the country are installing security cameras in public locations in an effort to deter crime. It’s estimated that a staggering 30 million security cameras are currently in use in the US alone. Chicago has about 10,000.  Here in New York City, 6,000 cameras gaze down on the city. While their primary purpose is to catch a video record of potential perpetrators, their very presence does seem to deter people from committing crimes.

Local and national news have covered multiple cases where criminals were apprehended as a direct result of surveillance cameras. Two recent high-profile crimes that occurred and were subsequently solved as a direct result of video surveillance involve the Boston Marathon bombing and the abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither of Philadelphia, PA.

Security Camera Footage and the Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Marathon bombing perpetrators were identified and the lone survivor captured within a matter of hours following the bombing.

How was this accomplished,” you ask?

The answer? The video footage obtained from the vast network of surveillance cameras keeping watch over downtown Boston played a pivotal part in nabbing the perpetrators.

While police urged the public to send in what they had recorded that day on their smartphones and cameras, it was the footage from the security camera mounted on the Lord & Taylor department store pointed onto Boylston Street that proved most valuable in identifying and apprehending the suspects.

The Abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither

The abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither occurred at night on a Philadelphia sidewalk.

Surveillance cameras in the Germantown section of the city captured the crime as an unidentified person grabbed 22-year-old Carlesha Freeland-Gaither and forced her into an old Ford Taurus car. The security camera footage of the abduction was released to the public in hopes that someone would recognize the car and come forward.

Amazingly, 300 hundred miles away, police in Virginia saw the video. They happened to be searching at that same time for a violent offender named Delvin Barnes, who was wanted in the abduction and assault on a local teenage girl.

Because of the similarities in the cases, local police showed the video to Barnes’ father, who identified the Taurus as his son’s. Barnes was ultimately located and apprehended. Freeland-Gaither, injured but alive, was found and returned to her family.

As you can see from the above examples, you never know when security camera footage from a key location might make the difference in solving a crime.  When you choose to make an investment in improving the security of your own business by installing cameras, you’re also contributing to increased public safety.

Our highly-trained technicians have years of experience installing security surveillance systems throughout the city. Rest assured, the cameras we install represent the highest quality equipment in the industry. With brands like Pelco, Axis, Bosch, Acti, Everfocus, Digital Watchdog, and Arecont, you can sleep peacefully knowing your property and employees are securely monitored against possible criminal acts.

Five Reasons to Switch to an IP Phone System

IP Phone SystemIf your business is still using an analog phone system, it’s time to consider moving into the 21st century with a cloud-based IP phone system. You might be asking yourself why you’d make the switch—your analog system has worked for years! If it’s not broken, why fix it? What can an IP phone system offer that you don’t already have with your current system?  Well, there are a number of advantages to upgrading your phones, and we’ve listed five of them below.

#1: Your costs will decrease if you switch to an IP phone system

We know you’re amazed — surely the new-fangled, fancy system will cost more than your old reliable analog system! Nope. As a matter of fact, switching to a IP phone system will cut your costs significantly, anywhere from 40 percent to 90 percent!

There are less up-front costs for equipment, in part due to the fact that you don’t need a switch for your phones in your IT room like you would with an analog or PBX phone system.

Additionally, your month-to-month costs are predictable. There are no more roller coaster phone bills, because an IP phone system has a fixed per-user cost structure. Your long distance and your local voice usage will be the same every month.  Finally, updates to the technology can be applied with free software upgrades vs expensive hardware upgrades.

How does that sound? We assume that you’re not interested in paying more money than necessary, so we bet it sounds pretty great.

#2: It’s easy to use

Sure, it’s capable of a number of pretty complicated processes, but it’s actually quite simple to use, and, more shockingly, simple to install.

When you switch to an IP phone system, it’s going to feel a whole lot like using your analog phone; you’ll still probably have a handset and you’ll talk into it. You can still check your voicemail, but you will now have new and interesting features such as your call activity history, the ability to track or alter your billing accounts at any time.

As for setup, the combination of your high-speed internet with your IP phone infrastructure means that you won’t have to do a tremendous amount of work to get your new system up and running. All of your devices, whether they’re the old school desktop phones or a sleek new mobile model, will now be connected to the cloud, saving you time and money in maintenance.

#3: You’ll have all the bells and whistles

You might not THINK you need anything other than voicemail, but that’s just because you haven’t explored all of the options that will be available when you switch to an IP phone system. And there are plenty of options. With IP phone service, you can enjoy features like call recording, auto attendants, call routing, call forwarding, a dial-by-name directory, hold music, and more.

Also, most IP phone systems can integrate with your smartphone or tablet using a mobile app, making it even easier to access from anywhere.

You’re probably wondering how much extra all of these awesome features will run you— good news! They’re typically included at no additional charge! Get ready to choose your hold music!

#4: Your old analog system is on life support

And the bad news is that there aren’t many technicians left who are willing to make house calls to help it limp along a little while longer. Ten years in phone system years is like a century in real time; it’s probable that your system’s parts aren’t being made any more, and the manufacturer probably isn’t willing to renew your expired service contract. Now is an excellent time to contact someone to discuss how an IP phone system can revolutionize the way you do business. (We here at Streamline Telecom would love to chat about your options.)

#5: You want to make it easier to telecommute

Face it— telecommuting is the wave of the future, and an IP phone system makes it much easier for your team to work collaboratively. If you force your employees to be tied to an outdated analog system, and therefore tied to the office, you’re essentially hamstringing them. Studies show that employees who telecommute are more productive than their office-bound counterparts; not only are they more effective, but they are more content, meaning that turnover becomes less of an issue. Yes, you’ll have to learn a new system, but it’s worth it to keep your team happy and busy.

Have we convinced you that it’s in your company’s best interest to switch to an IP phone system? We’d love to answer your questions. Contact us, and we can discuss more of the ways that an IP phone system will improve your productivity as well as that all-important bottom line.

Structured Cabling Challenges Posed by a Presidential Debate

Presidential SealAs the 2016 presidential election wound down, the presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off in a series of televised debates at various sites around the country.  Record numbers of Americans tuned in to watch the debates, either on TV or via live streaming online.  While viewers saw some pretty dramatic moments in the debates, what they didn’t see is the countless hours of work done by structured cabling contractors to prepare the debate sites for the big events.  Here are some unique challenges that contractors working at these events needed to overcome.

Event venues not purpose-built for multimedia events

The first challenge a data cabling contractor helping to prepare a location for a presidential or vice-presidential debate would face is that in many cases, the venues are not necessarily chosen because of their suitability for such events.

For example, the venue chosen for the 2016 vice presidential debate was actually the basketball stadium at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.  The “media center” for that debate, where hundreds of journalists from around the world set up camp during the event, was actually the student rec center (which was closed down for an entire semester to accommodate the event).

Needless to say, neither one of these buildings would be the first choice from the perspective of a data cabling contractor.  To say the least, it means that the contractor will have to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions.

Building temporary infrastructure from scratch

Contractors working to prepare an event site for a debate will basically need to create the type of infrastructure normally found in the offices of a large corporation from scratch—and then tear it all down after the event.  In order to prepare for the 2008 presidential debate at Belmont University, for example, the structured cabling contractor had to do the following:

  • Install 740 workstations with voice and data cabling and over 300 video outlets
  • Set up 750 single line telephones
  • Install 400,000 feet of fiber optic, cat 5e, and coaxial cable
  • Create circuit extensions to the satellite trucks and media platforms of all the major TV networks

Of course, everything had to work perfectly as a live television audience of 63.2 million people tuned in to the debate—so, no pressure.

Dealing with many different parties with competing demands

Any data cabling contactor will tell you that it’s hard enough meeting the demands of one client.  A contractor preparing an event venue for a presidential debate will need to please many stakeholders, including government agencies, media outlets, and of course the presidential campaigns themselves.  These stakeholders will each have their own agendas and lists of demands, which in some cases will likely be mutually exclusive.

In addition to all of the challenges mentioned above, the contractors preparing the debate sites will have limited time to plan, and will likely have to make many last-minute adjustments to plans as events unfold.

One has to wonder–for the structured cabling contractors involved, is the privilege of helping to put on a historical event worth the work, frustration, stress, and pressure?  Only they can answer that question, but one thing is for sure: they’ll know they were successful if, after the presidential debates are over, nobody is talking about them.