With all the discussion about electronic access control (EAC) systems and their various benefits, there is a cold reality in the security world. Most doors are still accessed by a mechanical lock and key. To grow your business, you need to get your prospects and customers away from relying on the mechanical key as a means of access control and into electronic security.
Some customers are ready to go directly to a new card-based system with audits, zone protection, remote lockdown and all the bells and whistles. But most customers prefer to start slowly. A traditional approach that most customers take is to start with a simple mechanical pushbutton lock on a back door or on a specific application with higher value assets behind that opening.
Mechanical pushbutton locks are a big business, but there are some concerns. All too often, customers don’t change the factory default setting. This is not a problem with the door hardware but a problem with the single transaction approach that is so often taken by the customer and the security consultant. Most customers don’t change the factory default setting because they either don’t know enough to do it or weren’t advised to change it. A second concern is buyer’s remorse. The PIN creates a feeling of security. The illusion diminishes when that PIN is given out more quickly than the metal key they just got rid of. A dissatisfied customer rarely comes back for security advice.
Those customers that are taking the mechanical pushbutton lock approach need to know for relatively the same price, you can provide them with a battery-operated electronic pushbutton lock. The electronic lock mechanically performs the same and introduces your customer to the basic EAC mindset. For those that have the mechanical version, try to upsell them on the extra capabilities of the electronic version. Let’s take a look at how that gets done.
Provide a Customized Solution
The most basic form of electronic lock is the offline system. An offline lock demonstrates the added security and convenience of EAC without the cost or complexity of a fully networked system. An electronic pushbutton lock is manually programmable and user rights are stored on the lock. Unique credentials can be assigned to each user and can be easily added or deleted at any time right at the door. It is important to remember that there are different types of chassis available. Cylindrical, mortise and exit trim options are available, as well as a wide variety of finishes and levers to group with their existing hardware.
Mechanical key override is standard and compatible with multiple cylinder types. Keep in mind that with the migration to electronic credentials, your customers’ mechanical key system is not as likely to be compromised. Not only are you helping them increase their access control security and flexibility, you are also eliminating the costs and frustrations of constantly cutting keys and rekeying locks.
What do you say to your customer to get them to spend more money on access control? First of all, ask them what they want and listen to their needs. This simple act plus your knowledge and explanation of what is available will greatly help your customer make a decision based on their broader needs. Stress to your customers they will have more flexibility in what they want to achieve now and in the future.
A baseline EAC lock offers a variety of options. You are there to help them customize the right solution for their facility. With both offline and networked solutions they can control where and when people gain access by setting up rights and schedules in a central database and then transfer this information to the locks. In an offline application, they will have to use a handheld device and tour the locks when changes are made.
There is greater convenience in a networked application because the customer can simply change access rights via a piece of software and these changes are generally in real-time. What is gained in an offline solution is price but what is lost is the flexibility of the networked system. You also have the ability to tie in various video surveillance systems in a networked application.
Establish Future Needs
It is important to know your customers’ credential strategy regarding the future of their system. Electronic locks now come with various reader options. These include 12-button keypads, magnetic stripe readers, magnetic stripe plus PIN readers, proximity readers and proximity plus PIN readers. There are even electronic locks now with smartcard readers as well as smartcard plus PIN readers.
It is also worth repeating here that the electronic lock that you choose must be compatible with your customer’s mechanical key system. When it comes to key systems there are many acronyms that you may never have heard of before, such as SFIC (small format interchangeable core) and FSIC (full size interchangeable core), and it helps to have done your homework on the specific system your customers use.
Commercial electronic locks are rugged, which is oftentimes a concern of customers. Most manufacturers today test their locks to the highest quality and reliability standards. The electronic parts of these locks are built upon the foundations of their rugged mechanical lock counterparts and are also ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 certified and UL294 listed. Select models are also compatible with leading brands of exit trim, including those from Von Duprin, Falcon, Sargent, Precision 21, Yale, Corbin Russwin and Dorma. A wide variety of finish and lever options are also available. These locks are typically powered by off-the-shelf batteries. It is important to note how many are needed, what type and how long those batteries last.