Long before getting into security, as a music-obsessed youth I tracked the progress of the latest records (remember those?) by tuning in to radio’s American Top 40 Countdown with Casey Kasem. Although I went on to disc jockey for more than a decade and host an album review TV show, I never got to preside over such a ranking. So it seems appropriate I now have the pleasure of presenting SSI’s annual “hit list” of installing security contractor concerns.
Asking security and fire/life-safety dealer/integrator executives and managers to identify their most pressing business-related concerns is included in the Installation Business Report (IBR) contained in our annual Gold Book edition (mailed with December’s issue or available separately). The top 10 results, in which more than 400 respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being what most keeps them up at night, can be seen on this page.
As indicated by the upward arrows (“bullets,” if you will), most of the leading issues are weighing even more heavily on security professionals’ minds than a year ago. Interestingly, although the No. 1 concern — the recession/bad economy — kept its spot, it was only one of two challenges (other being manufacturers selling direct) not to draw a higher level of concern.
Looking at the year-over-year responses, the margin separating the first and second most prevalent issues dwindled from .25 to .02. The top gainers were: technician shortage (up .71 points vs. 2011); acceptance of new technology (.41); lack of training (.38); competition from network/IT companies (.23); and operating costs (.20). The technology and training issues failed to crack the top 5 slots in 2011.
Although most respondents found their primary pain points among the provided answer choices, a handful wrote in their own. They included: local jurisdiction permitting process; lawsuits/liability; end users hiring staff to perform their own installations and service; licensing standardization; failure to retain good employees; failure to build relationships with and deliver full support of public law enforcement; door-knocking companies ruining our reputation; cable/telephone companies getting into security; and big-box retailers getting into the DIY field. The most amusing: Having time for the family due to our president making me work harder than ever!
A year ago I offered as a year-end resolution theme initiatives for consideration as ways to combat half the industry challenges shown on the chart. Below, I address the remaining five:
Technician shortage — Look to related trades from electrical to IT and then mold them to suit your company’s needs. Cover the spectrum by participating in high school and college career programs as well as canvasing the industry for seasoned security veterans made employment casualties of the recession. And look within to recruit bright and eager talent with aptitude elsewhere in your business.
Lack of training — Whether through dedicated organizations, trade associations, suppliers and elsewhere (e.g. SSI), be it self-study, online or in person, the training and education sources are out there. Make a commitment for 2013 to carve out the time and cost (usually minimal) to make it happen.
Acceptance of new technology — Overcome this in your sales and installation ranks through familiarity and incentivizing. Make it mandatory they read up on the latest technology and product news, send them out to see demos, get them whatever training they may need, and try technology-related bonuses or perks.
Network/IT company competition — Become a security firm with IT expertise to win out over IT firms with alleged security expertise. Recruit legitimate IT/networking talent and train them on security, and get existing personnel the requisite IT certifications.
Verified/No police response — Spoken lately with your local chief, sheriff and/or alarm coordinator? Do it now, and participate in key groups like the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC). Too late? Then turn guard response into a profit center.
Now to quote Casey’s signoff, in 2013 “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 14 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.