Security-Net member companies are required to pay quarterly dues and have a representative attend four meetings each year.
Coleman says there is not only information exchange and business opportunity that comes from being part of Security-Net, but also an ability “to compare yourself to everyone else, so it raises the bar for everybody.”
Best practices are a big part of the benefit of participating in Security-Net, says Ladd. “I can reach out to my partners and know that I’m getting honest, reliable and responsible feedback. I’ve been to their offices and I’ve been part of their operations.”
It’s explained to new members that they should treat their Security-Net partners as well or better than their clients, says Ladd. “There is a brotherhood and a dedication among partners. The loyalty is very high.” There may be strong personalities, he concurs, “but there is also a large degree of respect.” If companies are working on a project together and need to address a problem, Ladd says he wouldn’t hesitate to “pick up the phone and get the issue resolved. We have that level of camaraderie and respect.”
Committees Zero in on Issues
Not only are the heads of the companies participants in Security-Net, but also others within their organizations serve on Security-Net committees. Coleman says he was in charge of the Tech-Net group for several years and participated in meetings twice a year.
The technical group, notes Ladd, is made up of “the best technical guys” who not only examine new products coming on the market, but also work through issues and help resolve them, while creating a research library in the process.
The business development group, says Liguori, works on ideas for developing new business and generating leads. There is also a marketing committee that conducts a client event at the ASIS expo each year, produces a quarterly newsletter for customers and oversees the internal newsletter for Security-Net members. The membership committee reviews and evaluates potential new members for Security-Net.
Ladd, who heads up the marketing group, says the focus of this committee is to promote Security-Net, showing the group’s expertise through interviews, articles and white papers. He is also active in the business development group and has run Sales-Net.
Coleman says usually the sales manager within each Security-Net company participates in as the Sales-Net representative. “Most of our middle- and upper-level managers have done something on the Sales-Net side,” explains Coleman. “It pretty much ripples through the entire organization.”
These days, says Coleman, members often communicate via interactive white boards that Security-Net purchased for its members. “It’s expensive to send people around the country. What we’ve invested in is this technology so we can see each other and share ideas,” he says.
As president, Liguori says his main role “is to have everyone involved,” noting each committee makes a formal presentation at every meeting.
Targeting Growth and Improvement
As Security-Net moves forward, Liguori says one of its major goals is to present itself not as 19 individual companies, but rather as a single entity. The Security-Net Web site has been updated to reflect that, he says, as has the group’s marketing message. “We are trying to bring 19 talents into one functional organization,” he says.
Another way in which the group is coming together, he says, is through the development of project management software that is currently in beta testing. The Web-based software should make it easier to ensure consistency as members head up different projects that involve member companies.
But as Coleman pointed out regarding the independent mindset, it’s challenging to get members onboard without dictating what they should do, says Liguori. “I don’t tell people what to do. Instead, I implement a timeline and ask them what they need to do to make it work. We have leadership, but no one is ‘in charge.’”
Some of Liguori’s other goals include building a closer relationship with the business community through client events; improving Security-Net’s understanding of the security/IT link; facilitating communication through technology, such as the purchase of the smart boards; bringing more educational content to members; and leveraging the group’s buying power not only for products they use with their customers, but for things such as health insurance, car rentals and hotel rooms. The group is also looking into establishing a relationship with a national recruiting firm.
Growing Security-Net is also on the agenda. There is just one member in Canada now, and Liguori says they would like to have more resources there. Within the United States, they are looking strategically at areas where additional coverage is warranted, he says, such as the Southwest, Florida and Washington, D.C.
Historically, says Coleman, the organization has strived for single domains, so members weren’t in competition with each other. But because not every company carries the same product lines, Security-Net has moved away from geographic exclusivity within the past five years or so. The focus now, he says, is on finding companies “with the right chemistry” — a mix of good sales representatives, financial stability and successful business practices.
Ladd concurs that personality and dedication are important factors in finding the right partners for Security-Net. “You can’t just pick someone off the street; it’s a group, and they have to fit in,” he says.
Getting representation across a broader territory translates to client benefits, says Liguori, as well as price advantages from providing local or regionalized service. “We grew our own companies by doing what needed to be done,” he says. “What we hear from clients is that they like the single interface working with an independent provides, but they want local service wherever they have offices. The first thing people ask us is, ‘Where are your companies on the map?’”
Now the challenge is to not only provide service locally, but to do it with consistency and quality, says Liguori.