In most buildings, security is a hybrid solution of both mechanical and electronic security products. Locksmiths take care of the mechanical door hardware and the integrators focus on the electronic security technology.
However, for consumers, this traditional division of labour means they must deal with two different companies for the same door - one to design, install and service all the mechanical door hardware, and another to install and service the access control system. As a result, by the end of the installation process, they are uncertain who owns the warranty for their door. Who should they call for future service issues? In a marketplace where consumers have become accustomed to one-stop shopping and single source solutions, they want a single entity to call for any problems with their door.
Slowly, the industry has been responding to this demand by finding ways to blend together door hardware and electronic security systems. As customers increasingly request both mechanical and electronic services for their doors, companies are finding success forming service teams that can combine door hardware and integration to create a more cohesive installation process that will address all of the customer’s needs.
Extend your service offering
By offering a complete package of solutions, companies are able to extend their service offering and, more importantly, their revenue potential. But while the combined services could be of value in project bids, Robert Gaulden, Allegion’s Director of Aftermarket and Electronic Sales, believes the real value is found on the services side of the business.
“Certainly, on projects, having that understanding and knowledge base of mechanical and electronics allows firms to do more detailed site surveys and potentially gain more doors,” he says. “But I think the real opportunity for expanding revenue happens more organically as part of service contracts.”
“You can have the most
Gaulden says when integrators are frequently at a site, they may notice something and are able to fix it as part of their service offering. It establishes integrators as a one-stop-shop with an added level of convenience.
It also makes more sense in the eyes of customers. Integrators want to maintain the health and integrity of an electronic access control (EAC) system. If the EAC isn’t working properly because a door won’t latch—that’s a security issue, regardless of where the issue lies.
“You can have the most sophisticated access control system on the planet, but if the door doesn’t latch, your opening is not secure,” says Gaulden. And in a situation like that, the last thing you want to tell a customer is that they need to call a different firm to make the mechanical repair to the door.
Cross-train and build depth of knowledge
To be successful in integrating both hardware and electronic security specialists, there has to be a clear understanding of what each one does. There needs to be an appreciation on both teams for the various skills and how they impact the security of the door. But building that appreciation requires a lot of education, time and patience.
Companies that have begun the process of building a complete service team have put their technicians on both sides through extensive training and cross-training programs. Although they maintain their core competencies, the technicians receive enough experience and education to be able to work collaboratively with the other side. Not only does this improve job performance for all staff, it also results in happier customers who now have a single point of contact for any and all door-related issues.
|There needs to be an appreciation on both teams for the various skills and how they impact the security of the door|
Build from within
Adding the door hardware service could be done through selective contract partners, but Gaulden suggests looking internally first.
“A lot of integrators may have been locksmiths, or may have commercial mechanical hardware experience,” he says. “A great starting point is to survey your staff to see what skill sets they have.”
Next, he recommends partnering with manufacturer partners for additional training on both mechanical and electronic solutions so teams can receive the latest working knowledge on the latest locks, closers and access control technologies.
The training process will require
The training process will require an enormous commitment of time and dedication to learning new skills on the part of the technicians, but the end result will be a cohesive team capable of handling any door-related issue and a happier client base that will more readily refer your firm to other potential customers.
“As an industry, we’ve long operated these two functions separately,” says Gaulden. “But today, to drive a better customer experience, we really need to be thinking of them together.”
It’s clear that today’s customers don’t want to call multiple people to fix a problem, so the industry must respond by becoming a one-stop solution for all their door and hardware needs. Invest in building a team that combines door hardware and integration and allows your firm to own the door. In the end, by offering a complete solution for your customers, you’ll make yourself more valuable—indispensable, really. You’ll also create lasting relationships that will grow your business in the coming years.