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Counterfeiting Doubles Year Over Year

November 9, 2010

It used to be really hard to create a counterfeit banknote. Like in the movies there were engravers and plates and cloak and dagger shenanigans. Todays technology makes it relatively easy – high tech scanners, high quality color printers and “tada”: near perfect notes, at least to the naked eye. According to the Detroit Free Press www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201011060417 the amount of counterfeit notes removed from circulation in 2009 was $182 million, about double the $79 million the year before. 62% came from digital printers.

It used to be that the easy way to identify fake money was to use a detection pen, which only verifies that the paper is actual Bureau of Engraving and Printing paper. Today criminals are using low value note paper to make high value notes, such as $100 bills, skirting the test of the detection pen.

The hard part of being a recipient of phony money is it’s a bit like musical chairs: the last one standing is out of the game. Send your bank bogus bucks and they’ll keep the notes (and send them to the Secret Service) and debit your account. The smart money figures out how NOT to accept bad bills.

So if you want to avoid being part of the doubling of the counterfeit money business, employ some detection technology that keep counterfeits out of the system.

~Bob Walters

Keep an Eye on Inventory

October 19, 2010

In a recent CNN.com article, it was estimated that retail theft added $423.00 to the average American family’s shopping bills this year.  In 2010, retailers lost approximately $40 billion due to stolen inventory; roughly 1.5% of the total retail sales in the United States.  However, despite the staggering numbers, these figures are a 6.8% improvement over 2009, thanks in large part to a 12.5% increase in security spending in 2010.

Being in the cash management business, I routinely encourage clients to manage currency on hand (cash) the same way they manage other inventory items.  Like retail goods, much of the loss experienced when handling currency comes from within.  Consider this, if relatively illiquid products like beauty care items or clothing are targeted for theft and resale, how much more attractive is cash for a potential thief?

As a former small business owner myself, I look back with surprise over the way I routinely handled cash.  Whereas I could accurately measure my finished-goods inventory thanks to real-time inventory controls, I could rarely do the same with my cash inventory.  Now, thanks to heightened awareness about cash “shrink”, retailers across the country are becoming more sophisticated in managing cash inventory.  Advances in intelligent safe technology and point of sale systems enable retailers to collect vital cash position data.  This data enables retailers to identify important trends, establish best practices, and keep a closer watch on potential theft.  After all, retailers want to provide value to their customers, not the bill for theft.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/18/news/economy/store_theft_drain_on_your_wallet/

 

~Jeff Hauser

Life Without Data

October 12, 2010

I’m traveling outside the country, and took the advice of my cell phone carrier to set my smartphone option to “turn off data roaming”. I’m addicted to my smartphone and love to keep on up news, stocks, scores, maps, all the little icons beckoning to “click me for data”.

At breakfast alone this morning I longed for my data, heeding the advice not to roam, lest I go broke as my phone soaks up data.

Being in the business of cash counting networked safes, data is what we offer. Sure you get security and loss prevention, but today most companies run their business on data for a competitive edge. When you become accustomed to the data and the data isn’t there, you realize how important it is to you. When I was a kid, while really, really young (& I’m not dating myself here) I remember shopkeepers writing down your purchase amounts on the side of your shopping bag, adding it up, and that was your total and your receipt – don’t ask me how they paid their taxes.

I wouldn’t trade that for my data rich smartphone, and I think our clients wouldn’t trade their cash data for the days of brown bag receipts. But who knows about those taxes…

~Bob Walters

Knowledge is Power…

October 6, 2010

Working in the technology industry, I am frequently impressed with the knowledge and experience of my colleagues.  With decades of experience, and a commitment to excellence, my peers and I are dedicated to producing real results for our clients.  However, despite our collective commitment and proven skill-set, there is a constant need for updated information.  Without real-time feedback from clients and our counterparts, the best of ideas venture off course.  Simply put, to succeed in a dynamic business environment, we need all of the information we can get.  Fortunately, we understand that we are not alone in our need to collect accurate information.

As a former franchise owner, I am confident that the need for solid business intelligence exists within any organization, large or small.  Whether you are a technology firm with clients in 55 countries, or a convenience store owner in Sterling Heights, Michigan, actionable feedback is critical.  For small retailers, inventory control, point-of-sale (POS) data, employee trends, and cash position are important elements of managing a profitable business.  Without visibility to employee behaviors, seasonal trends, and financial information, retailers can quickly find their businesses running their lives instead of the other way around.

Thankfully, there is hope.  With advances in POS systems, RFID technology, and intelligent safe solutions, business owners are able to capture more data in less time.  Rather than reacting to changing business climates, retailers are able to proactively forecast changes, making the right decisions before it’s too late.  The old cliché certainly holds: knowledge is power.  The question for retailers today is clear; what knowledge are your business solutions providing and how much power are you wielding today?

http://www.americanbanker.com/btn_issues/23_5/cash-management-retailers-safes-get-networked-1018352-1.html

~Jeff Hauser

Keep your friends close and your employees closer…

September 13, 2010

Famed management consultant Peter Drucker once wrote that leadership, in any industry, “rests on being able to do something others cannot do at all or find difficult to do even poorly.  It rests on core competencies that meld market or consumer value with a special ability (possessed by the business).”  As an early pioneer of the concept of outsourcing, Drucker promoted the benefit of looking outside the business to address functionality that wasn’t core to the organization’s competencies.  On the contrary, Drucker also spoke plainly about the pitfalls of outsourcing, citing potential issues with service levels and community perception.  From Drucker’s perspective, outsourcing was a strategy for maintaining, if not improving, service to consumers while lowering cost.  It is critical to note that Drucker saw outsourcing not only as a cost-control measure, but also as an avenue for increasing specialization within an organization thereby improving the customer experience.

The market has weathered considerable change since outsourcing first became a standard element of the business lexicon.  Today, automated voice recordings, self-service kiosks, and offshore help departments are used to mitigate operating costs while providing a necessary layer of service to consumers.  However, despite the introduction of model-changing technology and access to global workforces, consumers today still value speaking with an expert they can relate to.  In many cases, organizations are shifting their focus from offshore infrastructure investments to onshore, internal investments in human resources.  The result of this shift from outsourcing to “insourcing” has lead not only to improved customer service, but also lower cost.

(http://www.globalservicesmedia.com/BPO/Market-Dynamics/Mich.-firm-turns-tables-on-outsourcing/23/28/9390/GS100302548113)

When faced with mission-critical implementations like platform upgrades or new technology adoption, it is still important to partner with a firm that employs local resources.  As employees are working to gain familiarity with new technology and reengineered processes, having experts on hand significantly shortens the learning curve.  By leveraging existing resources stateside, organizations are able to improve the level of expertise provided to their clients; allowing their clients to better serve the needs of their customers.  In the long run, working with an organization that is committed to investing in their human assets helps you grow your business.

~Jeff Hauser

Stick ‘em up! Oh wait, they won’t rob “you”

September 8, 2010

According to the FBI 2008 Uniform Crime Report, a gas station or convenience store is robbed every 15 minutes. Crimes of convenience, a quick in-and-out, the whys are many. The “robbees” may not be engaged- it’s not their money or their store; maybe the location provides a fast getaway – door-to-car, car-to-freeway; the illusion of lots of cash in the place. Statistics show most thieves do at least a cursory case of the place: how many people are likely to be around, are there cameras, does there seem to be plenty of cash. Or maybe they have firsthand knowledge – a recent study shows 65% of convenience store and QSR robberies were committed by people with inside knowledge of the opportunity. A friend-of-a-friend who used to work there.

Many people think “I’ve never been robbed, it won’t happen to me”, but I bet you have life insurance and haven’t died yet… The day will come.

If you own a business, it behooves you to show by example that the cash is locked up, and only the armored carrier and a manager – at the same time – have access. Then the inside knowledge becomes “there’s no opportunity here”.

~ Bob Walters

Check Scanner Monitoring Tools – the next ‘big thing’ in RDC?

August 30, 2010

Teller and merchant remote deposit capture (RDC) are gaining momentum … many institutions have deployed hundreds or even thousands of desktop scanners remotely to capture paper check deposits from locations far from the bank thus saving customers time and energy when making check deposits.

The next challenge is: how will the banks’ operations support staffs effectively manage those scanners after their deployed and keep them up and running?

That’s were intelligent monitoring software comes in.  Remote management of check scanners should be a part of any advanced RDC Solution deployed by financial institutions, corporations and businesses in a distributed environment.

There are tools to monitor devices used on a daily basis, such as ATMs, which help support staffs to be proactive and responsive to problems with equipment thus increasing customer satisfaction and reducing expense.

Desktop check scanners are no different.  Monitoring software can provide a huge advantage by providing near-real time information about the health and performance of the scanners.

And what about the cost savings associated with the tracking and support for scanners in the field?  The use of remote scanner monitoring tools will allow IT and help desk support staff to more quickly and accurately recognize problems with lower cost solutions that do not for example require replacing the scanner where is may not be needed.

And who couldn’t use every tool available to give your support staff an edge in solving problems proactively?