Attention Security Integrators: Attend Small Events, Reap Big Rewards

Learn why attending micro vendor/distributor events can pay major dividends for security integrators.

Recently, at the invite of wholesale distributor Tri-Ed, I had the opportunity to participate in one of its many local manufacturers’ seminars. For this month’s Tech Talk it presented a good excuse to discuss these types of events and make a few comments on my own session experiences.

Micro events are always a good opportunity to gain some face-to-face insight and valuable skills training, especially for those in the trade who cannot always travel to the big national shows and conferences. Here is another valuable tip: I have found over the years that such events are also a great time to professionally network, especially if you are looking for new local opportunities. In fact, it’s safe to say that these types of networking opportunities have considerably influenced my career.

RELATED: Discover Valuable Training Treasures and Tips

More Than Just Techs Can Benefit

Are these sessions only for techies? Not at all, they also provide great opportunities for company owners to become intimate with a potentially new product line and for salespeople to better understand the intricacies and capabilities of often complex security products. Some may think that these product seminars are only for the company that plans to install the product the next day. That could not be further from the truth. The manufacturers and distributors are happy to make you aware and understand their products and have gone out of their way to set up these sessions for attendees. You’re really missing out by avoiding them.

The daylong session that I attended was being presented by Napco, a tried and proven security products manufacturer. The company was introducing its fire alarm system called the Firewolf series. No matter how seasoned a manufacturer is and how potentially great any product or service is, there are pluses and minuses that need to be learned – it’s just a fact of life. And you can learn the hard way by trial and error or rather from, as we call them in the training world, a subject matter expert (SME).

In the particular session I attended, everyone was greeted at the beginning of the day by Napco National Training Manager Ziad Ghossaini and Napco Regional Sales & Channel Manager Kevin McCaffrey. They’re both very knowledgeable industry veterans. This is one of things I have always liked when working with Napco. I particularly enjoyed Ghossaini’s instruction and commentary, and I could tell that his many years of tech support and experience with Napco was invaluable to all attending. Oh, by the way, did I mention this local training session was free?

Tool Tip

TaskBook

Experienced help is hard to find. Today’s challenge is taking moderately experienced technicians and showing them how to be a pro. The problem is that supervisors cannot be at every jobsite every minute of every day. But many installation tasks can be easily broken down in manageable steps that all can follow. One dealer recently conveyed to me success using a program called TaskBook  to automate those installation steps.

Unlike popular spreadsheet programs, including cloud-based services, TaskBook is made for defining, sharing and monitoring processes to produce repeatable results, the company claims.

Learn From Leaders and Colleagues

Napco was trying something new at this session. It was the first time in the field that the company was conducting true hands-on fire equipment training. Dealers had the opportunity to buy a discounted system equipment package in advance. Techs were told to bring their installation tools to the training. I can’t think of a better way for them to learn than by doing so with SME leadership.

I’ve often heard the comment, “the only reason manufacturers conduct these local training sessions is to promote and sell more product.” However, to say that’s the only reason is misguided. Manufacturers have learned over the years they can actually save money and headaches by having an aggressive training program. If you have ever worked in technical support you know that the more knowledgeable customers are, the less time you have to spend holding their hand on the phone.

Getting to network with other dealers who are not in your immediate sales territory can be advantageous too. For example, hiring qualified techs is an ongoing challenge and one dealer told me that his solution is using a checklist program called TaskBook (see Tool Tip). Be sure to follow Tech Talk online for more training talk and a brief list of related manufacturer/distributor events.

About the Author

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Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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