In the below interview, Kim Helms, DTT’s VP of National Accounts, discusses how she’s built successful corporate partnerships with some of the biggest brands in the hospitality industry.
What do you do at DTT?
I am the Vice President of National Accounts, responsible for creating new enterprise chain relationships, as well as for managing existing key DTT National Account relationships.
Where did you start in the industry?
I received a hospitality management degree with a minor focus in business administration at East Carolina University. You could say I followed in my grandfather’s footsteps: my grandfather owned a couple of Home Town Restaurants and a Marina on the Chesapeake Bay. Growing up, I wanted to be just like him: a smart business person with an innate sense for genuinely taking care of the customer. I migrated into restaurant specific technology after working in restaurant operations for several years.
If you look at the amount of technology solutions available today versus when I started in the industry, there is a vast difference in what is available to operators. Who knew what SaaS or IoT was in 1997? Today, those technologies provide companies with essential tools that make their businesses more efficient and profitable.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The customer is always right! As a leader of teams for 20 years, I have always said, “If at the end of the day our customer isn’t happy, then we have not done our jobs.” Customer relationships are the key to success in this industry.
To date, what has been the key to DTT’s success as a provider of managed loss prevention solutions?
Being authentically customer centric. We manage this through our customer-driven Steering Committee. This committee gives us the opportunity to listen to market feedback, likes and dislikes, trends, and recommendations. We use this feedback to evolve our business and solutions to meet the changing needs of our customers. Relevancy is a must in this industry. Without it, you are simply working towards your expiration date.
DTT is the exclusive loss prevention vendor for several brands in the QSR space. What have you done to develop DTT’s relationships with those corporate accounts?
Over the years, the National Accounts team at DTT has established multiple corporate and franchise enterprise relationships in QSR, TSR and Fast Casual concepts. Our success starts with staying close to the customer and from truly listening.
We make sure we understand the core business problems our customers want to address by implementing our solution. We then consistently deliver on those requirements. That doesn’t mean conducting one install and then moving on to the next. We must understand key performance requirements, communicate those internally, deliver on the requirements, and then consistently follow up with the customer and internal departments as needed to ensure success. Customers stay with their technology vendors long-term because of consistency in their communication, relationship and solution delivery.
How have those corporate relationships strengthened DTT’s ability to work with those companies’ franchisee communities and provide comprehensive loss prevention services to them?
In this very competitive market, earning corporate approvals to sell into franchise communities is the ‘holy grail’. Historically, when we have achieved this in key brands, we have always been successful. Corporate approval normally means invitations to regional meetings, trade shows and key training sessions with influential regional resources. This is the perfect ‘sales storm’ for us, as it gives us the ability to start authentic relationships and deliver our solution as designed and negotiated through Master Service Agreements.
In what way do DTT’s services create value for the brands we work with on a corporate level?
The number one reason brands want an Enterprise Video/LP Platform is to create consistency and standard operating procedures for their loss prevention departments. The DTT solution creates a uniform process for reviewing video, creating cases for HR & Legal when major violations occur, and for leveraging system health to ensure NVR’s and cameras are consistently operational. If a brand has multiple Video/LP vendors installed across the enterprise, imagine the various processes and technologies that require internal training to effectively manage LP.
Having multiple loss prevention providers within an enterprise inflates costs, creates frustrations for employees, and isn’t effective or efficient when major violations require investigation. Major savings occur when the process is consistent, and employees don’t have to waste time and energy understanding the process before digging in and taking care of any problem.
What’s the biggest advantage that DTT offers businesses in the hospitality space in regards to loss prevention, when compared to DTT’s competitors?
DTT has been providing companies in the hospitality space with loss prevention solutions since 1998. DTT’s long tenured employees have deep, industry specific expertise and practical knowledge that they can leverage to help our customers. We have a strong reference base of customers that have been with us for 5, 10, or 15+ years that can speak to our ability to deliver on our promises. We have many enterprise-level customers that have 100, 200, 300, 500+ locations with us. That experience and customer base is not trivial to enterprise-level prospects.
As DTT expands their services and enters new markets, what lessons will you take from your work in the hospitality industry, and how will you apply them to these new verticals?
The core ROI from a Video/LP solution transcends industry. Restaurants, c-stores, and retailers can all benefit from DTT’s solution, because that solution is customizable. For DTT to be relevant in new verticals, we need to be customer centric, consistent in customer experience, and innovative in our ability to adapt without disrupting the experience of our end user. But the most important thing we can do is provide our customers with quality and value. You can’t hide the quality of your product in the industries DTT serves, which are incredibly tight-knit. Prospects will detect it a mile away.
In recent years, the hospitality industry has faced a host of challenges that have created significantly tighter margins for operators. As a result, DTT’s services might seem price prohibitive for struggling businesses. Why is this not the case?
DTT has been pivotal to organizations on the brink of P&L disaster. Recently, a key brand on the verge of bankruptcy attributed their turnaround to the DTT Solution.
Tighter controls were put in place with POS integration, audio, and DTT’s remote auditing program. As a result, the brand was able to identify employees who were skimming from POS registers. DTT was then able to assist with documentation that the brand used to move forward with on-location arrests that set an example for all employees.
From there, audio surveillance was used to promote upselling and to increase the guest check average consistently across all meal periods. A brand on the brink of extinction removed a criminal element, addressed hiring standards, and increased sales through consistent strategic upselling. That change was made possible because of DTT.