Jack of all trades-MASTER OF NONE

How specializing in one SMS increases your bottom line


"Integrators need to invest and focus on one core product line, become a master of that line and sell it with gusto."

When I ask systems integrators what access control or IP video systems they sell, almost without exception they answer with one of the top three brands in each category. When I further ask if they sell X, Y or Z products also, the answer is inevitably yes. An informal survey we conducted found most integrators sell and/or support over five access control products and more than double that number in video systems! How can that be possible?

Many integrators feel they need several product options to present to their customers to fit any need, and they support legacy systems because they are loyal to their older customers. While this is providing excellent customer service, it's inefficient and usually very costly. Systems are becoming more complex, not less. The move to IT-centric systems and the additional feature sets required in today's products make them much more sophisticated. How can a field technician become an expert on a system when they have to support so many? The answer is they can't and that has many consequences including lost productivity, low employee morale and most importantly, shrinking profits. These techs do not have the education on each of the systems to be considered experts, therefore they are inefficient at designing, installing and maintaining these systems. This inefficiency costs the company AND the customers time and money.

Integrators need to invest and focus on one core product line, become a master of that line and sell it with gusto. They will save time in all phases of a project - sales, design, installation and maintenance - because they fully understand the product and its capabilities. Specializing on one security management system will significantly increase their bottom line.

"Most of the problems that have arisen during projects have been due to an integrator's lack of knowledge of a specific product," said Security Concepts & Planning, President Charlie Howell. "Sometimes integrators are not familiar with the manufacturer's part numbering system, don't know the correct wires to run, or they couldn't do the custom programming to fit an end user's design criteria."

"The most frustrating is when a service technician arrives to work on the system and has no specific knowledge. It takes more down time and coordination to get the RIGHT tech on site that knows the product, and the technician's lack of product knowledge is financed by the end user," said Howell.

Most businesses follow the 80/20 rule, which is 80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of its customers. I recommend you pick a product that meets the 80/20 rule, that is a product that meets 80 percent of the market requirements to provide the widest coverage. This system should be cost-effective at the low end of the market, as well as, cost-effective and capable of scaling to the enterprise class. But most importantly, the product must be backed by a company that is first and foremost a great business partner. They must believe in providing exceptional customer service and they are truly capable of providing a world-class product with services that those products require (training, technical services, professional services, etc.). Pick a product that you can make money selling and supporting and focus all of your energy on it. Yes, there may be some initial fallout, but in the end, you will be better off.
When an integrator masters a product line, they'll be able to design a better system because they are educated on all product features and how they function.

"Customers can see the technician's knowledge of the product which not only results in a faster installation, it gives them a higher comfort and satisfaction factor," said systems integrator AVS Technology's Michael Riotto.

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