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Keeping Customers and Cash – Safe


When Chuck Brennan founded Dollar Loan Center in 1998, he set out to do one thing: offer signature loans with reasonable terms in a safe, professional environment. “I wanted to give my clients low rates, flexible repayment options and a business-like atmosphere,” said Brennan. “But most important, I wanted to guarantee they’d be safe while working with me.”

Customers appreciated Dollar Loan Center’s approach to lending, and the Las Vegas-based business grew. Over the course of just nine years, the company opened nearly 50 locations in Nevada, South Dakota, and Utah. In that time, not one branch was hit by a holdup attempt. “We had a phenomenal security record,”stated Brennan.

But then something changed. Blame it on a tanking economy or bolder criminals, but Dollar Loan Center became a target. Beginning in mid-2007, the company experienced a robbery or an attempted robbery at least once a month.

“That wasn’t acceptable for my clients, my employees or me,”Brennan explained. “We might be in the gaming capital of the world, but security is something I refuse to take a chance on.

So Dollar Loan Center turned to technology. Its first move was creating a company-wide surveillance hub, where a team of security professionals constantly monitors branches via full-color, high-definition cameras.

“Seeing every inch of every office really gave us a handle on the situation,”Brennan recalled.

Next, he began researching cash recyclers: secure, under-counter vaults that accept, authenticate, store and dispense banknotes. Recyclers guarantee accuracy and increase efficiency while barring illegitimate access to cash.

At the 2008 FiSCA Conference and  Exposition, Brennan had a chance to talk with Mike Mares of ArcaTech Systems, a company that specializes in transaction automation solutions. “We were discussing the benefits of the technology when someone called to say there’d been another robbery,” said Brennan. “I told Mike to give me every unit he had.

“Within weeks, ArcaTech had equipped each branch with a 4,000-note-capacity  recycler. “Dollar Loan Center needed to  secure cash without inconveniencing clients or tellers,”explained Mike Mares. “Recyclers were the perfect solution because they completely eliminate exposure while making transactions more efficient. Chuck and I knew this technology could make a real  difference for his company.”

They were right. In the 18 months since the recyclers have been installed, Dollar Loan Center hasn’t suffered a single holdup.

“That’s beyond dramatic,” Brennan stated.The recyclers, he explains, deter crime in several ways. Most important, they foil would-be robbers. “If someone’s demanding money, we’ve told our tellers to step away from the counter and let him or her have a whack at the machine. We’re not worried.

“That’s because only Dollar Loan Center security officials have access to the recycler vault ” no one else is able to remove cash. Mr. Brennan’s recyclers are also outfitted  with tracking systems, security cameras  and alarms.

And because even tellers don’t have access to the machines, recyclers thwart insider theft, too. They also prevent risky teller behavior, like counting cash in plain view of the public or leaving a drawer unsecured.

In addition to improving security, recyclers streamline day-to-day operations as well. By retaining incoming banknotes for future transactions, branches need fewer cash pick-ups and deliveries. “We’ve gone from daily bank deposits to deposits made just twice a month, and that saves time and money,” reported Brennan.

While Brennan acknowledges the surveillance center and recyclers represent a significant investment of capital, he says the measures have paid for themselves. And he’s become a champion of the technology, regularly taking colleagues and industry competitors on tours of his facilities to see security in action.

“Dollar Loan Center has always been a pioneer, and our new security technology has been tremendously successful,” said Brennan. “I’m willing to share that success with others because I want everyone in this industry to feel as safe as I do.”

Abbie Kiefer is a freelance writer. She lives and works in Raleigh, North Carolina, and may be contacted at abbie@abbiekiefer.com.