Instead of talking about Zen and Shakespeare this month I decided to talk about the really important people in my world—you! I have talked to so many systems integrators about the industry and that’s where I learn what’s really going on. And I have to say—I’m impressed.
From end to end of the industry (ahem, I think you know we are seen as resistant to change) I’ve seen a transformation, the embracing of technology.
Ackerman sets bar high, clears it
But it’s not just a change I’m seeing in hardware, and that’s good, because healthy margins for products continue to shrink. I had a super-interesting conversation with Jim Callahan, chief operating officer of Ackerman Security Systems in Atlanta and he talked about the company’s growth and what he attributes that to. The Honeywell First Alert Professional Dealer recently opened a new 32,000-square-foot facility to accommodate its rapid expansion and provide new jobs for the city. Callahan said the company has doubled in RMR and its account base over the last five to six years—and they’ve done it almost 100 percent organically. The Dow Jones Industrial Average down 500 points in one day? You wouldn’t know it with this success story.
And guess what? Ackerman Security’s success wasn’t based on hardware—it was for services! They have evolved into a mobile sales management/paperless signature capture process with automated sales, billing, installation and other cool stuff in the field, (take a look at my blog, Integrator Insights, at www.securityinfowatch.com for more on what they are doing) the flip side of all this technology I guess.
Callahan said the company has become even more efficient and effective with this process and others and that they have grown, and are now moving into the D.C. area. They are signing contracts electronically in the field; scheduling appointments for installations immediately; billing 100 percent on site and taking payment on location so they can grab a customer right away and move to the next. No more waiting 30 to 60 days out to get payment for installation or service calls.
“We’ve created a lot of efficiencies in sales, service and marketing,” Callahan said. “We are making a big impact at the point of sale,” he said. “We are one of the fastest growing companies in the industry and to date have accomplished this almost entirely through internal or organic growth.”
But this story is really about how you can learn from Ackerman Security and others and apply some of these principles to your business so you can continue to grow—fast! It’s not a surprise that Ackerman is one of the fastest growing companies in the Atlanta region. And that’s where we come to the second part of this and why it’s natural that this story ties into something even bigger we have planned for SD&I magazine in 2012. We are launching a new awards program called SD&I FAST50. And it too will be based on America’s fastest growing systems integrators. With this program we will present best practices and real peer-to-peer content you can use. We will list the movers and shakers in the integration business, based on our independent research and compilations. Watch for more online and in print as we officially kick off the program this month. And be sure to throw your hat in the ring for the accolades that will follow.
Recession? For companies like Ackerman Security Systems that word doesn’t exist.