Taking a Fresh Look at Dealer Programs
Installing contractor support programs have been around for decades but are they keeping pace with changing times? Learn how some programs are continuing to provide dealers with the support, branding and other assistance to succeed in an era of harsh economics, fierce competition, and emerging technologies and services.
Camaraderie among First Alert members — each year the program hosts a well-attended national training convention — is also a strongpoint.
“One of the greatest benefits that we enjoy is the fact that there are hundreds of other independent First Alert dealers out there that we can call for ideas and support,” says Russ Ackerman, a district sales director for Jacksonville, Fla.-based Certified Security Systems, a Vector Security company. “Within the dealer network we have some of the most creative alarm companies in the country that are willing to share their ideas with other members. Some of the best marketing ideas that I have ever used came from other First Alert dealers.”
Guardian Protection Services, which operates one of the oldest active dealer programs in the nation, is well established in the Mid-Atlantic States, the Chicago area, Florida and Texas. As of late, however, the Warrendale, Pa.-based super regional integrator has been making a concerted effort to increase its national footprint, supported in part by implementing new digital features to its dealer program. For example, in June, Guardian launched a unique Web-based service that allows members of its authorized dealer network to upload all sales contracts electronically, as well as realize other business efficiencies.
Known as Dealer Automated Real Time (DART), the service was created based on feedback from Guardian’s dealer network. The upshot is a money- and time-saving service for both the company and its dealers, says Guardian Sr. Vice President of Information Technology Eric Aulbach.
“Instead of physically mailing all of the paper documents to the company, dealers upload them electronically. We can begin processing them more quickly and ultimately pay the dealers more quickly,” he says.
Dealers will appreciate a newfound transparency to the paperwork process, according to Aulbach. “If any problems are found while Guardian’s dealer department is auditing the contracts, they can notify the dealer of the problem. The dealer can easily see the contract on his or her PC, review it and automatically make corrections on the spot.”
DART also provides access to the company’s training information and marketing collateral, which can be customized with the dealer’s logo and contact information.
In an example of the growing proliferation of hosted security services, a recent entrant to the dealer program arena is helping even the traditional-minded installing security contractor transition to a service-based business model.
Westminster, Colo.-based Integrator Support, a PSA Security Network affiliate partner, features a dealer program centered on providing managed services. The extensive offering includes a sales and marketing program with brochures, prospecting packages and prototype contracts. It also has a price book that simplifies the process of estimating and quoting customers for video monitoring, video verification, hosted access control and centrally-managed access control services offered by Integrator Support.
“We also have a reference manual that integrators can use to evaluate reven
ue potential and exit valuation, an implementation roadmap for transitioning to managed services, industry white papers and hardware specifications for “preferred” products,” says Sharon Shaw, vice president of Integrator Support. “Commission structures are also available for integrators to use to incentivize their sales professionals to sell RMR-generating services.”
The criteria for admission into the program and participation are fairly straightforward. Dealers must sign an umbrella agreement and then for each project all they need to do is submit a purchase order; the site documentation will then be provided to them.
“We do not sell to the end user directly, which makes us different to most other models,” says Shaw. “Additionally, we can assist the integrators with the necessary training and introduce them to the appropriate providers to support their effort.”
More Advanced Hosted Services
One would only need to have walked the show floor at last month’s ASIS tradeshow in Orlando, Fla., to recognize the extent to which managed services has come of age in the security industry. Exhibiting video surveillance and access control vendors, as well as systems integrators, focused heavily on how integrated solutions and open platforms are providing the capability to offer end users enhanced services like never before.
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