ESB002 Protecting Estate Sale Property Using a Video Surveillance System

Your Estate Sale Business is responsible for safeguarding the personal property you’re selling. This podcast explores protecting Estate Sale Property Using a Video Surveillance System to Guard Against Theft, Damage, and Destruction.

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Transcript of Podcast — ESB002 Protecting Estate Sale Property Using a Video Surveillance System:

One of the responsibilities of an Estate Sale Business is safeguarding the personal property you’re tasked with selling.

Stay with us and I’ll share one of the best ideas for managing security for estate sale property while it’s your responsibility.

Welcome to the Estate Sale Business Podcast: Your Guide to a More Successful, Sustainable, and Profitable Estate Sale Management Business. This show and our website are dedicated to serving estate sale business owners and managers. Our goal is to provide you with the how-to information and best-practice guidance that can help your business thrive. Our website address is I’m your host, Ronald Andrew-Murphy.

This is Episode 002, entitled: “Protecting Property: Using a Video Surveillance System to Guard Against Theft, Damage, and Destruction of Estate Sale Property”

Safeguarding property before and during an estate sale can be uniquely challenging. And you can’t ignore it. Losses can be costly, both from missed sales and potential liability.

Alert staff during the sale can help prevent accidents and discourage pilferage. But accidents and theft still occur. And what happens during the leadup to the sale? That time when you go home at night and there’s no one in the home to prevent loss?

These days, many estate sale management firms are considering a surveillance video system to help them keep an eye on things. Having a video surveillance system at a sale location can prove very useful. Especially so, if the location will be vacant in the days leading up to the sale while you’re preparing the property.

Here are some of the issues you face:

Foremost is actual criminal activity. During a sale, small items are often stolen. When the site is crowded with people, it’s not easy to monitor every location and every piece. While some theft on sale days may be crimes of opportunity, professional thieves are also responsible. Professionals often work as a team, with one person distracting your staff while another commits the theft.
But it’s presale when the professionals are most likely to strike. Thieves can gain entrance to a house that’s unoccupied and easily walk away with the highest valued property. They may have already reviewed what’s available by visiting the popular estate advertising sites.

There are also cases where relatives gain entrance and remove pieces without permission. Relatives may think they’re doing nothing wrong, even when contractually prohibited, but the loss goes to you regardless.

Sometime a neighbor with a key will take advantage of the situation to make off with something they always admired.

And unfortunately, presale is also when employee theft is most likely. You want to trust those you hire, but many times you need extra help. If you have casual employees working to prepare a sale, it can be difficult to prevent the theft. When things get so hectic and busy, it’s impossible to be watch everything.

So the number one property loss challenge you have to guard against is theft.

Not far behind is breakage. Items can be broken during the sale when it’s most crowded. And it can also happen during presale prep. In both situations, every item is likely to be touched by at least one set of hands and often by many. Whether it’s a clumsy customer or a tired employee, breakage happens.

The challenge is significant. Anything you can do to prevent theft and breakage will help stem losses that, ultimately, come out of your pocket.

Can a video surveillance system really help with this problem.  How?

First, it can act as a deterrent against theft. If people know their actions are being captured on video, they’re less likely to take the chance of getting caught slipping something in their pocket. Posting highly visible signs that warn about the surveillance video is often enough to deter even professional thieves. Why take a chance when they can find another location without video.

You can add an extra deterrent by using real time monitoring during a sale. If you have a display screen where shoppers can see it, then you create an even stronger warning. People might miss a sign, but they’ll almost always stop to watch themselves on TV. They’ll understand they’re being watched.

The second benefit of surveillance video follows when threat alone does not prevent a crime. Your video actually captures the crime as it happens Video is the strongest type of evidence in identifying who commited the crime and substantiating charges. It’s the proof that a particular item or items were taken, and proves a crime was committed. It may also help substantiate the value of the loss.

If the loss is due to breakage and you have visual proof, that may help you to recover at least some of the loss. At the very least you have proof for your client that an item was broken rather than stolen.

Video can also help when damage is caused by employees. Whether from carelessness or intention, knowing what happened can help deal with the situation. You can avoid false claims or denials. You can see for yourself that an employee may not be suited for the type of work you’re asking them to do.

Using a video surveillance system has many additional benefits. For example:

Improving employee productivity: the idea is not that you expect bad behavior or slacking off from an employee. But the fact that cameras are on can provide more self-awareness on the employee’s part. It can help motivate them to be more careful and efficient in their work.

Resolving conflicts: Use of video can help make conflict resolution easier or even unnecessary. You may get customer complaints. Proof of any behavior exists on video, false complaints and accusations are reduced and valid ones proven. You can share video with your client if there are any questions about the sale.

Accident Prevention and Claim Verification: When someone reports a fall or is otherwise hurt at your jobsite or sale, it can be verified, or disproven, by a video record.

There can be even more benefits like the following:

Traffic Flow Improvement: Studying traffic patterns on video during and after a sale can help improve the flow. Helping your customers move more freely and view items more easily can result in happier customers and more sales.

Record-Keeping: digital storage of video files provide archives you can refer back to in the future. If a claim is made about an item at some later date, it’s possible to retrieve the video and review it for verification of sale or return. It can be particularly helpful for inventory and sales history recordkeeping to have a camera recording the checkout area. Proof that a specific item was or wasn’t sold would be on such a video record.

Extra Selling Benefit with Prospects: the fact that you monitor and video your sales can provide sale-making benefits to a potential client. When they understand that you offer extra protection for their property, it positions you as more trustworthy than the competition. Without video you could stand to lose that edge if the competition has it.

And finally, there’s the potential for Insurance Cost Reductions: It’s possible the cost of insurance and bonds might be reduced by your using a video surveillance system. You’d have to discuss with your professional, of course. But you are potentially helping to reduce the insurer’s risk by deterring theft and keeping video records.

Given that surveillance systems offer a wealth of benefits, You may decide it’s a worthwhile to get a system. The next question, then, is what type of system should you consider investing in?

At its most basic, a surveillance system consists of a video capture source, a camera, and a way to save what the camera captures, the storage. A system could be as simple as a single self-contained video camera with a memory card for storage.

But to really be effective for your estate sale business, it’s likely that multiple cameras will be needed. You’d probably want one for each room, or at least the rooms where more valuable property is located. As mentioned earlier, you may also want a camera recording the checkout area.

So you need a multi-camera system. What other key attributes of the system should you look for?

As an estate sale manager, you want a system that can easily move from location to location. So portability is important.

Ease of use is also important. You’ve more than enough to do in handling a sale. It would be helpful if everything was simple enough to hand off the setup task to someone else, especially without having to go through a major training effort to get the job done.

Reliability has to be key. You want a system that can work without problems or needing attention, often for a week or more at a time. And one that holds up for an extended period.

And of course, cost is a major factor. That’s especially true if you run more than one sale at a time. You would likely need a surveillance system for each sale.

If you look online or in home stores, you’ll find there’s no shortage of video security systems available. They’re even regularly advertised on TV these days. Prices and features cover a broad range and can look appealing.

But before you select one of these systems, you should be aware that many of them have a drawback you’ll want to avoid.

Many of today’s video systems are designed for a single fixed location. They’re meant to provide security in a home, office, or warehouse. Because the locations are permanent, they can be set up once and left alone.

And because the locations are permanent, these systems can be attached to a high speed, broadband connection to the internet. That’s the type of hard wired internet connection provided by a cable TV or telephone company provider. It’s a fixed line into the home or office and offers high speed uploads and downloads on the internet.

With high speed access to the internet, captured videos can be transmitted and saved online. Instead of requiring local storage, these systems store videos in the cloud. You probably know that the “cloud” is just the common name for any large shared storage units accessible over the internet. The security camera companies rent or own this kind of cloud storage unit. They manage the videos there that each of their security systems sends to them.

Since a local storage unit is not needed, that cost is eliminated for this type of video surveillance system.

But there’s the drawback.

The problem is that you’re not likely to have such a high speed connection available to use for a sale. That’s because – if you’re like most estate sellers – you don’t operate from a single fixed location. Your sales move from home to home.

It’s true, many homes do have a high speed internet connection these days. But it’s not likely you’ll be able to depend on the home-owner to provide you access. Even if it’s there initially while they still occupy the home, it may be scheduled for turnoff right at the time the sale occurs or before. And besides that, the homeowner may not want to allow access to their private system. Or there may be restrictions on how much capacity the customer is even allowed to use. Surveillance video operates continuously, uploading large data files. That’s not usually a common practice for a typical home wifi system.

Keep in mind, It is possible to use a mobile modem, or hotspot, to connect to the internet. You can connect a wireless cloud system to this hotspot and send your videos to the cloud. However, you are accessing the internet the way your phone does. It uses your mobile data connection. Even if you have a phone with a generous data plan, it’s not likely enough to handle multiple video files without large, and costly, overages. And it’s also not typically as fast as a dedicated line.

So unless you’re setting up your surveillance system in a fixed location where you have access through a cable modem to the internet, one of these cloud based systems is not likely to work for you.

Instead, what you’ll find works best is a Wireless NVR system. It called this because it uses its own wireless network to link multiple cameras to an onsite video recorder. The recorder is the NVR, an abbreviation for Network Video Recorder.

Each camera has an antenna used to communicate with the NVR. As video is captured by the camera, it’s sent over the air to the recorder. The recorder saves the video to its own local storage. Storage is either a Hard Disk drive, a solid state drive, or a memory card. Video from each camera is recorded to a separate file on the NVR.

How many hours or days the system can record depends on how many cameras are sending files and how large the recorder storage is. Many systems can record four cameras for up to six days at a time.

Another plus for this system is that it’s ideal for those sales where the property must be left unattended overnight or for several days.

A typical scenario might be: You’ve been hired to manage an estate sale at a house where the former occupant has passed on. It’s now unoccupied and all the relatives live elsewhere. The house and outbuildings contain the personal property you’re going to sell. It’s a large sale so you’ll need several days to arrange, value and tag all the items. You’ll work each day but during the night the property will be empty.

With a wireless NVR system, you could station four to eight cameras throughout the home and in outbuildings. The NVR, the recorder, could be stationed in a central location in a safe area of the home. Once you start the recorder, it will simply keep recording everything the cameras see and store it all digitally. You get a complete visual record of everything that happens at the house.

These systems have night-vision built-in so they keep recording even in the dark. They use infrared LEDs to light the scene. They’re not visible to the eye, so it doesn’t alert an intruder or call attention to their location.

NVR systems also typically have connections at the recorder to hook up a display monitor. Any time you want to view what’s on the files, you can do so through the monitor.

For example if you arrived one morning and discovered property was missing or damaged. You could run the videos back and view what actually happened. In the case of theft, the video would provide evidence for the authorities and your client.

You can also use the display monitor when you’re working onsite. You can watch what the cameras are seeing live. This could prove helpful on sale days, especially if you didn’t have staff in every room.

Some systems have the capability to alert you by email or text during the times your are offsite. Many NVRs are programmed to send an alert in the event a camera detects movement, for example.

Some of the NVR systems also permit remote viewing. When alerted, you can connect through your phone and watch live footage remotely.

These extra communication capabilities usually add to the system cost. And they do require extra equipment. In this particular case, a cellular modem or hotspot can be used. I mentioned hotspots earlier. They do offer a portable way to tap into the internet so long as you can get cell service where the recorder is located. If you want this capability, make sure the NVR you get provides the appropriate connector to link to a hotspot.

As I said before, with a hotspot you are accessing the internet the same way your phone does. It uses your mobile data connection. You’re using your data allocation each time there’s a transmission. While a hotspot is not recommended for continuous use for the reasons covered earlier, they can work effectively for alerts.

There are a couple of other factors to be aware of when purchasing a surveillance system. In addition to night vision, and motion detection, you’ll want easily mounted or free-standing camera units. Each camera will need to be located close enough to a power outlet to be connected. Although there are some battery powered cameras, electricity provides a more reliable source of power.

Note that there are also WIFI based NVR systems that store video locally. The recorder has a built-in router which is the component that connects and controls the various devices connected to it – the cameras in this case. You don’t need an internet connection for the cameras to work. It’s all controlled by the recorder and the cameras themselves. These systems can work but tend to have less range and be more susceptible to interference from walls.

That’s it.

Bottom line, when it comes to surveillance video for an estate sale management business, a wireless NVR system looks to be your best solution.

On our website,, you find links to NVR systems and reviews that you may find helpful in selecting the best system for you. Links are on the page associated with this episode 002.


Now let’s talk about your marketing for a moment.

How effectively are you using Facebook to raise awareness of your business? Facebook can be one of your best lead generators. Here are five tips for taking advantage of this amazing, mostly free, marketing channel.

Number 1: Set up a page for your business. Normally, your facebook account is under your own personal name. But you can attach a business page that has your business name associated with it. Be sure to add all the supporting information and images that go with the page,

Number 2. Post to your page regularly. That means at least once a week and more often if possible. Every day if you can. The beauty of Facebook postings is that they can be brief. No need to write a blog-length post. Just a thought for the day, for example, or a quote. Try to make them applicable to your business though. Also tie your posts back to your own website if you have one (and you should!)

Number 3. Ask friends and visitors and even strangers to like your page. The more likes, the more popular Facebook considers you and the more circulation you get for your posts.

Number 4. Consider setting up contests or giveaways on your page. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or costly. Just something to encourage more participation. For example. Give a prize to the first 3 entries to correctly identify a little known item in your sale. You could do that every time you have a sale.

Number 5. Be sure to promote your estate sales on your page with pictures and descriptions from the upcoming sale. Also post afterward about how successful each sale is.

Facebook can be a great way to communicate with and find clients.

You may already be using it. If you are, tell us what you’ve done. Share your experience in the comments for this episode on our website. It’s

I hope the information I’ve provided in today’s episode will be helpful to you.

We’ve looked at protecting estate sale property with a video surveillance system. I’ve covered why a surveillance system might be needed, what the benefits are, and what type of system will work best for your estate sale business.

I’ve also provided a few marketing tips on using Facebook to help promote your business.

Always remember. We welcome your comments and questions. A big key to how helpful this show is to you is your participation. Every episode has a section available for your comments, questions, and suggestions on the website’s episode page.

Our website address is estate sale biz dot com. That’s Estate sale BIZ (B-I-Z) dot com. You can also find it noted on our show listings.

Please consider becoming a subscriber to this show and a regular visitor to our website. You can find subscribe links through your podcast app or on our website.

Our vision is to provide information that will help your estate sale management business thrive. And that you will use that knowledge to make your business become more successful, sustainable and profitable.

That’s our goal. That’s why we produce this show. For you.


This has been Episode, 002, titled: “Protecting Property: Using a Video Surveillance System to Guard Against Theft, Damage, and Destruction of Estate Sale Property”

I’m Ronald Andrew-Murphy, your host.

Thanks for listening!


This is the Estate Sale Business Podcast: Your Guide to a More Successful, Sustainable, and Profitable Estate Sale Management Business. This show is produced by

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Hi, I specialize in helping small businesses use digital technology to become more successful, sustainable and profitable. To this end, I provide information products in a variety of formats, including podcasts, books, audiobooks, videos, and online courses.  I cover website publishing and management, social media and mobile marketing, digital advertising and much more.

I’ve been involved with technology and business for over forty years. My years of corporate experience include IT management, sales and marketing, software development, training, and support.  I’ve served as a conference presenter, facilitator, and university professor.

If you’re a small business and could use some guidance on supporting your business with technology, check out the course offerings and other learning material here.

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