Lumber dealers have traditionally used cameras to manage inventory shrinkage. Have you heard the phrase, “Cameras tell the truth?” For example, if you want to verify the count of materials loaded into a customer’s vehicle, replay the video footage. Today, video cameras are clear enough to almost count the number of sheets of plywood in a bundle.

But cameras are also used for more than inventory shrinkage. One dealer originally used cameras to manage inventory shrinkage by placing a camera at the main entrance to its yard. In one unfortunate instance, a driver strapped a load of materials on the company truck, left the yard, and was involved in an automobile accident, claiming his life. At first the opposing lawyers argued the truck was not properly strapped. The camera video was used in the case to show the truck was correctly strapped. In the end, the case was settled without major expense to the dealer because it had “the truth.” This camera system paid for itself many times over.

If I were still managing a lumber yard, I would position cameras at each entrance of my warehouse, store, and yard. Today, I have cameras at all entrances to my office building and I receive email screen shots of any activity outside of business hours. I can review video footage at any time.

While the cameras are almost ever-present in our industry, I also see flat-screen televisions deployed in dealers. Flat-screen prices have dropped while functionality has increased. An investment of about $500 can land you a 42-inch LCD TV. One dealer has a big screen TV behind his counter that shows the Weather Channel while another dealer constantly plays ESPN. But you can do more than just entertain builders.

Consider creating a PowerPoint presentation showing some of the jobs that you have completed. How about highlighting the employee of the month, new products, or the customer appreciation picnic? Did you know that you can create a PowerPoint or similar and place this on a thumb drive and plug this into your TV to run constantly? What if you had thousands of pictures from your digital camera of jobs and you just constantly cycled through these on the TV?

If you connect your television to the Internet you can show your website or possibly the website of a millwork vendor and the vast molding profiles, window styles, or door inserts.

Televisions in offices are usually used to display cameras around the yard or possibly for the customer to view a salespersons second PC monitor. The television is larger than the computer monitor and can be seen from a distance.

In the conference room, I am seeing projectors being replaced by a television. These are crisper and can do more than display the signal from a laptop or smart phone. I also see dealers using the TV to make Skype calls to vendors or other dealer locations. With a camera added onto your TV, you can usually view your entire conference room. This is often referred to as teleconferencing.

Cameras will continue to tell the truth by recording events, but TVs will allow you to not only view the content of the cameras, but also tell your story. What is your story?