How can security integrators/installers stand out in the market?
It’s a challenging time for security integrators and installers. Equipment prices are going down (along with margins), and commoditisation is wiping away what used to be the advantage of exclusively offering a top product brand. Integrators can continue to succeed by finding a way to move ahead of the pack – but how? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: How should integrators/installers differentiate themselves or make themselves stand out in today’s market?
Being cyber-savvy is an advantage as most security integrators/installers have been slow to embrace even the basics of “cyber-hygiene.” Offering remotely managed offerings that package service, software updates, cybersecurity and product updates will differentiate the integrator/dealer from the 90 percent who offer no such packages.
Integrators can stand out by specialising in vertical markets and/or providing value-added services. We work with several integrators who specialise in the retail space. Their salespeople and technicians are subject matter experts. They have years of experience and are able to ensure their customers are using best practices, as well as providing the know-how to integrate with retail POS systems. The biggest value-added service is remote monitoring and management of customer systems. The integrator can be there for the customer for relatively minor things that used to require rolling a truck. Even better, they can discover equipment that is offline and repair it before the customer even knows they have a problem. That’s providing an indispensable service the end user will remember.
In today's market, it's all about customer service. Almost every integrator has good product – and most of these products do a lot of the same things – but what sets integrators/installers apart is the level of value-added support they are providing to their accounts. Increased support through training, follow-up, open communication and keeping them informed on emerging technologies can really speak to the needs that end users have and why they will remain loyal. In the security market, as well as many other sales-focused markets, a happy customer will tell one or two people, but an unhappy customer will tell the world. The key to keeping customers happy is to own their issues, make them yours and offer unparalleled customer-centric service to end users.
Integrators need to provide a full turnkey solution to the end customer, which would include the network and the servers and storage and maintain the solution for the end customer for the next three to five years. If the integrators allow the end user to provide the network, there is no guarantee of performance, and also this strips value from the integrator. The integrator must portray themselves to the end user as an outsourced security technology company that will provide a turnkey solution with maintenance.
Integrators and installers play an important role in designing and installing these systems to meet performance criteria rather than just offering the most inexpensive choice. An integrator or installer that delivers a system that lives up to an end user’s performance expectations will be viewed more favourably in the long term. Today’s security industry is perhaps more visible than ever to the public, particularly as surveillance video from crime scenes is often broadcasted by news media internationally. As end user expectations change, installers need to consider more than just price points when sourcing video surveillance products for projects – they need to also consider not only the customer’s minimum needs, but also their expectations. Regardless of the cost of the surveillance products installed in a project, end users expect the system to perform at the same level as a premium product when an incident occurs.
It’s important for integrators to install highly reliable systems. This is especially important when it comes to a system’s physical infrastructure to ensure that video feeds can be carried from their point of origin to control rooms or command centres without interruption. By deploying reliable systems such as millimetre wave technology (mmW), which uses frequencies higher than Wi-Fi to ensure reliability and speed, integrators can differentiate themselves from their competitors.
Focus on cybersecurity. Choose a vertical market, and then excel in it. Be a value-adding partner. Provide full, end-to-end service. Consider the customer’s expectations. Our Expert Panel Roundtable’s suggestions are just the beginning of a long list of ways integrators and installers can seek to differentiate themselves and move ahead in the market. It’s a competitive environment out there, and the rules are changing. It behoves every integrator to consider the options – and start their own list.