How to Sell Security and Access Control to Houses of Worship

With more churches, temples and mosques investing in security, here are some tips to help installing security contractors break into the market.

Unless you’re reading a Dan Brown novel, worship facilities may seem like unlikely crime scenes. However, more churches, temples, mosques and other houses of worship are investing in security and access control systems to protect infrastructure and better manage the open door policy that make them a place of refuge, rebirth and safety.

The key to working with houses of worship is grasping the threats as well as the physical and ecclesiastical sensitivities unique to these varied facilities. Let’s delve into some of the particulars necessary to prepare installing security contractors’ success in this market niche.

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Understanding Unique Threats and Needs

The high-profile shooting at the Wisconsin Sikh temple in 2012 may have captured the nation’s attention, but mass shootings are actually quite rare at houses of worship. The real threats come in the form of smaller crimes that can end up being quite costly. Consider the menace of copper and metal theft, which can be devastating. Even the theft of $150-$200 worth of stolen material can result in upward of $20,000 worth of damage to a commercial HVAC unit or system. Not only is there a cost for replacement or repair, but also in higher insurance premiums and comfort for parishioners.

Vandalism is another area of concern because houses of worship can be targeted for specific beliefs or based on current events that can inflame individuals to act recklessly and target any institution affiliated with a certain religion. The defacement of mosques after 9/11 is an example. 

Houses of worship also serve as community gathering places for non-parishioners. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and even driver education programs use the spacious venues worship facilities provide to host meetings, which means people are coming and going at all hours with minimal monitoring. These groups tend to be less of a security threat, but they do present the challenge of managing access levels; providing an all-hours master key is generally not the best option.

Overcoming Ecclesiastical Challenges, Protocols

When selling or recommending services to a house of worship, security dealers and integrators should understand the process of how decisions are made. Of course, not every facility or religion has the same procedures when it comes to budgets and buy-in, but there are generally a few layers of approval needed.

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