It can happen to you

Once upon a time there was an industry-with an idea that people, places and things needed to be safe and secure and that hardware, boxes and peripherals could become a lucrative profession to do just that.

Installers scurried merrily from job to job, specifying hardware and sometimes monitoring these systems. Crash! Down came a lightning bolt known as mass-marketed systems, the beginning of several new waves of evolution. Systems were sold for zero down or extremely low installation fees for two doors and two windows and a control panel. All the customer needed to do was sign on the dotted line for a long-term monitoring agreement. The model was different, because contractors needed to play the numbers game-install as many systems as possible to garner that lovely and beautiful thing called recurring monthly revenue (RMR). And then it all began again. Installers scurried merrily from job to job for new accounts, adding monitoring to the equation.

Some didn't follow this model. They stuck to installing custom systems and higher-end components and convinced buyers they needed more than a couple doors and windows protected, and it worked. They still monitored the systems, but the base cost was not zero or low so they could still make money on the installation of equipment.

All went well for many years until outside forces began to look into the industry and renewed competitive pressures reared its ugly head. Products began to be commoditized and couldn't command the high margins they once did-companies had to step beyond the 'box' mentality and look at other ways to make profits from their seriously eroding margins. Monitoring, too, became commoditized and the days of monitoring a simple home system for $20 to $30 all but disappeared. The Internet and VoIP also had an effect on the industry, as it did on all industries. The recession of 2009 and on further exacerbated the situation.

Now, installers no longer scurry merrily from job to job. They hang their heads in disbelief when they go to a bid meeting with as many as a dozen competitors in the same room. They know the job will go to the lowest bidder. Some don't even bother to bid, knowing they can't recover the cost of doing business, overhead and equipment if they undercut the price to win the job. They see wireless alarm systems and even IP cameras in Costco and other big box retailers and stand face to face with one of the worst housing recessions in decades.

Suddenly, on the horizon appears a rainbow, brilliance for all to see. Security has morphed into more than just protecting windows and doors, places and things. It's about being connected in the home and office and remote locations. It's about video and imaging and sensors and detectors and bringing new value to the customer-value that makes them 'stick'. It's about providing a full-service solution, from consultative selling and adding value to everything you do.

How will this fairy tale end? It's up to you. SD&I magazine is leading the way by providing the content that can help you grow your business and become the value-added reseller and service provider that will make you irreplaceable to your customers. Inside this issue, check out the leading surveillance accessories starting on page 20 and the trends in the city and municipal vertical markets, page 26; wrapped inside, information on value-based selling and GPS. Also inside Natalia Kosk digs deep into the emerging topic of logical access control and physical security, page 40. Don't miss the piece on analytics-edge versus server based-to get the latest on this booming category, page 44, or the story on the value of partnering and alliances, page 50. Scope out the table of contents on pages four and six and go get what you need from the pages of SD&I magazine. Let us help write a happy ending to this fairy tale.