If there is one truth in the realm of the professional security installer, it’s an authorized dealer program is available to serve the unique organizational needs of any company, large or small.
Among the diverse offerings are manufacturer-sponsored programs that focus on exclusive products and channel support. There are also programs offered by national installing security contractors, which can uniquely help dealers navigate marketplace opportunities and challenges. Still others are centered on providing third-party monitoring and related support, financial services, acquisition of accounts, branding and marketing efforts, and sales and technical training, among other advantages.
Many dealers and integrators find participation in a dealer program a vital part of their overall strategic business directives. Members are empowered to leverage the relationships and resources of the programs in building a client base they might not otherwise have been able to acquire, as well as to better network with industry brethren at conventions and related events.
What follows in SSI’s dealer program report is a good bit of advice from an industry expert on what it takes to identify and foster a successful match for your company. We’ll also take an inside look at the unique qualities and necessary qualifications to join channel partner programs offered by IT-centric technology providers. And there’s a handy dealer program directory that examples just some of the many offerings available.
Gunning for the Right Partner
The first order of business in identifying a dealer program among the multitude of offerings in the market is to first look inward. Conduct a thorough examination of your business model and your organization to better understand what it is you are seeking to accomplish and what areas you need assistance with.
“Some of the areas are obvious, others not so obvious. It really depends on the dealer’s market, approach to market and the areas of focus and concentration,” says Peter Giacalone, president of Giacalone Associates LLC, an independent security consulting firm serving central stations, manufacturers and installing security contractors.
Are you focused mainly in the residential market? Do you need assistance launching a home automation services offering? Is your technical staff in need of training to sharpen your ability to go after more sophisticated commercial projects? If your company is a pure systems integrator, there are programs or franchises that exist that can prove to be highly beneficial to certain business owners.
This preparatory work may seem simplistic but it goes a long way toward defining where you’re headed as an organization and where you want to go, explains Giacalone, who is a featured contributor to SSI’s “Monitoring Matters” column. Once you have defined your requirements and direction, it’s now time to carefully investigate the parts of a dealer program that make up its whole. A key exercise to this fact-finding work is ferreting out any red flags that would indicate the program may not be a good fit.
“A dealer looking to compete with the door-knocking, mass marketers shouldn’t join an integration dealer program,” he says. “A dealer who is looking to expand into the high-end market shouldn’t join a program that is heavy in financing and not in buying power or market support.”
Giacalone says while the industry is no longer laden with the overwhelming quantity of programs it once was, those that have spawned in recent times exhibit greater variety. “Unfortunately, dealer programs have a stigma that they are all financing or acquisition programs at the core. Although some of them are, others are true support programs. If you need financing then go in that direction. If you need more than that, make sure you attain what you need.”
A key feature to some dealer programs are networking events and conventions where members gather to share best practices and receiving various training. Above, Mobotix hosts its annual National Partner Conference and awards ceremony. Courtesy Mobotix
Serving the Technically Savvy
As technological complexity continues to advance — and disrupt — the electronic security industry, channel partner programs offered by technology providers have proliferated. This has cultivated dealers’ and integrators’ ability to increase the client base and the sale of products to existing accounts.
Some vendor programs set a much higher threshold for participation based on skillsets necessary to design and install large-scale networked systems. Partnership benefits, however, can be very similar to traditional dealer programs, such as special business terms, training seminars, sales and project support, extensive marketing materials, and leads and referrals, among others.
As an example, Mobotix, a provider of high-resolution video systems, recently launched a channel partner program that goes beyond driving sales volume. Instead, a main goal of the program is to provide integrators with the resources necessary to compete for and win quality projects.
“For us it’s not about quantity, it is about quality. We want to ensure that educated and certified partners serve our end users. To do that, we provide our partners with the best support possible to improve their business transactions,” says Steve Gorski, general manager, Americas, Mobotix.
The multitier program addresses all partners, including integrators, resellers, installers and distributors. The partner categories are broken down into three groups: Advanced, Certified and Registered. Participants have to prove a particular revenue level and attend certification seminars in order to attain a specific partner level. This allows them to take advantage of a range of benefits, including specialty training, sales and project support, extensive marketing materials, and more.