As I See It: Five Steps to Higher Revenues and Better Client Relationships

Today’s building managers and owners are not spending as much money as they did post 9/11 when there was a rush to increase security systems through large capital improvements that included biometric readers, turnstiles and visitor access controls. But what did this buying spree accomplish? Not much other than a high level of anxiety and animosity.

Today’s security managers and real estate developers are cautious of implementing such upgrades. One reason in particular is these systems are not being used to the fullest capability, not to mention a lack of perceived need since there has not been a domestic terrorist attack in recent years. The urgent need to be secure diminishes the further we move away from 9/11, even though the element of security as a value added service has shown to be a contributor in signed tenant leases.

Why are security buyers reluctant? Dealers and vendors leveraged 9/11 to sell cutting edge systems to a frightened group of buyers while the opportunity existed. Vendors sold systems that were clearly beyond the scope and requirements of normal building operations activity while never consulting with appropriate personnel.

The end result is a sophisticated security system that operates as designed, but does not allow for buildings to function properly. This can virtually stop a building from operating. Designing security systems without consulting with building operations personnel creates an ineffective security system. Operations personnel have become incredibly frustrated with these systems only to view these implementations as a waste of money. The end result is a high-tech cutting edge security system not being used to its full capability.

One key issue is sales have softened post 9/11 and there is greater competitive pressure among integrators to sell larger systems to fewer clients. Sales staffs will take every possible advantage to increase the bottom line which translates into selling more equipment than is truly needed. The solution is a change in philosophy. Higher sales numbers will not come from one large scale implementation, but rather multiple smaller installations.

The operations divisions of commercial properties are incredibly frustrated with the day-to-day operations of security systems they can not utilize. Many clients cannot even retrieve their own video or operate their systems effectively. This causes an incredible amount of frustration from a client who has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Integrators should be adopting longer sales cycles in this current environment. One suggestion might be to create a five-year sales strategy for each client. Most security integrators only implement yearlong sales projections where they meet or exceed sales goals, and move on. In today’s environment where multiple factors are ever present in commercial real estate operations, such as fewer tenants, lower rental income, and higher operating expenses, security systems should not be an added frustration.

Following are five simple steps to help build better client relationships and higher revenues:

Step one: Meet with the building operations personnel to discuss specific goals. Don’t get caught up discussing specific systems, even if they think they need access control. What they are trying to achieve is more important then how to achieve it.

Step two: Identify the security issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes owners have blinders on and don’t recognize other potential security issues.

Step three: Develop a security system that meets the basic needs of the client, not the most expensive or most robust. Do not attempt to solve all problems in one system. Develop credibility at first and continue to build on current system.

Step four: Meet with operations staff to discuss how the system will integrate with their daily operations. Identify problem areas that might cause operations to malfunction or simply not work. Building operations staff should include the security supervisor, engineers, mailroom staff and appropriate loading dock personnel. Failure to communicate with these individuals at first will result in disastrous operations breakdowns later.

Step five: Propose to clients a five-year strategy. Develop a basic system with the ability to grow and implement new technologies and integrate new systems. Include in this outline projected budget estimates.

Utilizing these five steps will help integrators s design better systems and significantly lower frustration and anxiety levels. This should translate into long-term increases in sales and greater customer satisfaction.

Sal Lifrieri is president and founder of Protective Countermeasures & Consulting, a full-service firm specializing in threat and vulnerability assessments, personal protection, counter espionage and counter terrorism, and offers canine explosive detection services. He can be reached at (914) 576-8706 or [email protected] .

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