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.
Advice, Insights From Recent Entrants Into Managed Access
Is your company exploring a move into offering managed access control services? Sources interviewed for this story offer their advice and tips on how to proceed.
“For any integrator thinking about it, do your homework on what it’s going to do to your business. Build your processes. Don’t get discouraged. Here’s the thing: If the average reader is going for $3,000 and you are selling a four-reader job for $12,000 … well, your hosted model may go for $5,000 to $6,000.
“I think you have to be willing to take less upfront. You need more customers to start out. If you are finding two or three customers a week, you need to find four or five. As you get into it, the RMR builds up and gives you some leverage. But starting out [can be a little discouraging]; ‘I got $80 a month for this’ or ‘$100 a month for that.’ But they do add up.”
— Tim Feury, CEO, Altec Systems
“Investing in the right people, processes and technologies is crucial to the success of any security-related effort. It is critical for companies to invest heavily in IP expertise, people, training, infrastructure and IP security. Your customer’s access control system is only as secure as your network infrastructure. An open Internet connection to your customer’s people, buildings and assets is an invitation for trouble.”
— Jacky Grimm, Director of Security Solutions, Diebold
“Start now and do not over think it. The model is very different than what we are used to as integrators. For many of us, it goes against the foundation that we started our businesses with. As integrators, we work hard to provide our customers with an installed system that we assist in maintaining and advancing as the technology advances. We become a trusted partner of our customer. In turn, the customer continually provides us with new business. We lived and succeeded on system sales from $30,000 to $1.5 million and up; not on $30 to $250 a month. To wrap our future financial success on a volume-based RMR rather than the traditional model of large systems sales, it takes a lot of $30 to $50 contracts to make $10 million a year.
“The second piece of advice is, do not give up. We discovered in our first two years that the return on investment was very disappointing. Whether it be technical obstacles or failed selling strategies, RMR is here to stay and will only grow. Look at every failed sale opportunity as a learning experience. Take each technical obstacle and work with vendors to find a solution. Most of us are or were small family-owned businesses as a start. We succeeded in outthinking the competition technically. But the market has changed. The technology is easier to install, easier to use and easier for end users to grasp the concepts of electronic security.
“We should use the same persistence and perseverance that helped us grow when the system required high technical experience and channel that into how we show the customer value in our experience in the security industry. Instead of being the technical resource, we need to be the security resource on how to make our customers more secure at a lower cost.
“There are a hundred different ways to put together a 100-door access control system. The RMR model allows us to provide the customer with that same solution, one door at a time, within the budget and without the hassle of a major project. Where we once proved to the customer our value in a large system solution, we need to prove it on a one-door-at-a-time scale. Integrators can do this successfully, and the market is strong for RMR now and in the future.
— Scott Lord, Vice President, All Systems
“If you are going to do it, you want to do it in a way that allows you to grow comfortably. It is going to take time. You really have to balance how much upfront capital investment goes into it and when you want to see a return on it. It can get out of hand buying 10s of thousands of dollars for servers and it’s going to take a whole lot of accounts to offset that.
“Try to align yourself with a good central station in your area and make sure you align yourself with the products they have. The whole organization, from the top down, must have the s
ame mindset to make it work. If you just say, ‘We are going to offer managed access control,’ but it’s not proactively pushed, you are not going to make significant inroads. Everybody has to buy into it.”
— DJ Ramirez, Vice President, Texas Technical Systems
“It’s about learning the terminology … when you are talking about managed access with a customer you have to present it as a service. ‘We are here today to present you with a managed access service; not an access control system.’
“Once you present it in front of the customer as a service, it tends to get them asking you questions. If you can get them provoked, and you have the right closing tools and the right information, you can usually explain it well enough to present value in it.
“Also, having that IT person on staff is mandatory, even if you have to subcontract out to a qualified IT company that can come in and handle these things when you need them. If we were trying to do this eight years ago when we were a much smaller company, that’s something we would have had to do. ‘We’ll need you for two hours to go set up a VPN at this site once we get all the equipment installed.’”
— Jason Tolleson, Sales/Project Manager, Guardian Systems
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