Making the Move to Managed Access

Software-based managed access control services are providing installing security contractors respite from eroding margins and other business pressures. Pick up valuable insights from several companies that are already making the transition to this new paradigm.

[IMAGE]12237[/IMAGE]Among its key customer segments since introducing managed access control services in 2008, Diebold has experienced its widest success with financial institutions, Grimm says.

For All Systems, its primary market verticals – health care and education – have shown little to no interest in these services. Health-care facilities have the staff and in-house support to manage their access control. Many schools either have the personnel or are reluctant to fund a recurring model. “Schools also have fewer needs for constant modifications to the access control, so the management of it is small in most cases,” says Lord.

Instead, All Systems’ success has come from the commercial sector, predominantly property management companies. Interestingly, more and more property managers are also managing Internet services for the building and tenets, which has opened a proverbial door for managed access services.

“Many of them have opted to pay an outsourcing IT firm to [manage Internet services],” Lord says. “So being able to provide managed access in the same way, especially since it is IP-based, fit the model the customer was already familiar with.”

In Houston, Texas Technical Systems (TTS) recently launched a hosted AMAG solution in collaboration with Integrator Support, a provider of remote monitoring services for video and access control systems. After working diligently to train its sales staff, among other internal preparations, TTS is finding it can bring the most value to small- and medium-sized businesses, according to DJ Ramirez, a company vice president.

These are the customers — law firms, doctors’ offices, etc. — with a receptionist who in the past has been charged to manage the access control system. But then he or she leaves the position and suddenly the customer is without quality service, Ramirez explains. TTS
steps in to provide them a hosted solution that includes programming, badge printing and running reports.

“Our strongest niche right now is the customer in Class A-type real estate. Maybe they have leased a half-floor, one floor or a couple floors. Maybe they have their own free-standing building. There is lots of opportunity,” Ramirez says.

The Price Is Right … Not So Fast

While there may be a general consensus on which market segments offer the best prospects, going about how to price managed access control services remains in flux. Call it a work in progress for many service providers.

“There are a couple of ways to do it. Sometimes we’ll get an opportunity and we’ll experiment,” says Feury. “The goal is to get the RMR. The pricing around that is to try and get what the market will bear.”

As Feury explains it, the end user is probably more willing to pay a higher monthly fee when offered a lower upfront cost. Altec Systems has experimented anywhere from full MSRP for a reader and a $30 per month charge, down to free installation for a reader and $100 a month for hosted services.

“We tend to see models anywhere from $1,200 to $1,500 and a base charge of around $50 for hosting, and whatever you can get for additional readers,” he says. “If I had all the cash in the world I would price everything at zero, but I have to have a balance.”

Guardian Systems generated a pricing sheet to break down cost depending on such factors as the number and type of doors, and the number of employees to determine the client’s managed access cost. The company also utilizes a proposal system, facilitated by a lone estimator, to ensure each prospective client is actually pitched a managed access system.

“When each individual sales rep was doing their own proposals, there was no governing authority per se to see whether or not they even presented the option for managed access,” Tolleson says. “We have gone so far as getting the customer to initial they are declining the managed access portion of the contract. That way we know it was presented.”

As TTS continued to tweak and refine its pricing structure, the company discovered the contract for managed services was unique unto itself as well.

Contract administration becomes a lot more intensive when hosted services are involved, Ramirez says. “We have to make sure we are stressing to the customer we are hosting your security services, but we are not replacing your burglar alarm system as such. We have to spell that out.”

Aside from working out numerous kinks, all sources interviewed for this story expressed a great deal of optimism for the future of managed access control services in their respective businesses. For instance: “It took nearly two years for us to adjust to the RMR model,” Lord says. “It is changing the way we do business, and frankly, the marketplace is turning more and more to outsourced resources rather than installed systems.”

Rodney Bosch is Managing Editor of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be contacted at (310) 533-2426.

About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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