You’re Only as Good as Your Supplier

The only thing worse than having to deal with substandard services or goods in your personal life is contending with them in a professional capacity. That’s because when a supplier fails you, it leaves you standing there in the middle, holding the bag and faced with an unhappy customer. Couple that with poor customer service and you are really hung out to dry, undoubtedly destined to lose business. 

This is the predicament in which Ray Hickman, president of DRH Security in Fort Collins, Colo., recently found himself. He shared with me a letter of outrage he sent his supplier (which shall remain nameless) saying the company’s lack of responsibility for faulty wireless receivers “constitutes the greatest malfeasance of customer service I have witnessed in my 37 years in this business.” 

Hickman, who began engaging in business with this vendor following a 2004 meeting at ISC West, is so enraged he intends to protest the firm outside its exhibit booth at this year’s trade show. He wrote that he plans to “inform any visitor to your booth what a sorry business you conduct and the sorry customer service they can expect.”

The subject matter and passion of this letter, coupled with the fact it was written by the salt of this industry — a small, veteran, installing dealer —caught my attention. It also rekindled an ember of thought that is never too far from my conscious mind. That is, perhaps more so than any other industry, ours is one in which those who design, sell and install put much more than their livelihood on the line each day, for they are responsible for helping assure the safety and well being of their customers. 

This is why it is so critical for security contractors to align themselves with responsive, conscientious suppliers that truly understand their business, needs, challenges and customers, and will be there through thick and thin to support them. There is too much at stake to switch equipment providers or product lines simply on the basis of a direct-mail piece, E-mail solicitation or tabletop display at a trade show. 

Thanks to a staff that includes several industry veterans, this is something Security Sales & Integration understands and takes to heart in the production of the magazine. We do our darnedest not to promote or publish the staggering deluge of material we receive from unproven, fly-by-night operators that are either ill-equipped to deliver the solutions and services installing companies need, or seek to exploit the security industry for a quick buck. 

We look out for your best interests. The marketing partners represented with ads in SSI share this philosophy as well, and I am not just saying that because they help put food on my family’s table. Although I have to stop short of outright endorsing them, I can assure you they represent the cream of the crop. They are well aware of what you’re up against and are committed to providing solutions rather than introducing problems. In short, they “get it.” 

But don’t take my word for it; check them out for yourself. If you take your time, ask the right questions, effectively communicate your expectations and solicit feedback from colleagues, you will be well on your way to establishing the type of long-term relationships with your suppliers that will keep your blood pressure, checkbook and customer satisfaction in balance. Success can never be guaranteed, but you can certainly increase the odds. 

Speaking of odds, for those of you traveling to Las Vegas for this year’s ISC West, remember this message as you are bombarded with sales pitches, demos and wares. Time is very limited at the show, so spend it wisely with those suppliers that really do care about you and have the wherewithal to help you achieve your goals. Plus, you may need a spare moment to check out Hickman’s protest.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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