Jack of all trades-MASTER OF NONE

How specializing in one SMS increases your bottom line

Systems integrators will save time in many ways when they specialize on one product line. Knowing the intricate details of the product will speed up the installation process. The faster projects are installed, the more projects can fit into the schedule, therefore increasing profits. If a customer can't afford everything now, they can design the system to easily accommodate future upgrades when the customer's budget allows. When the time comes, upgrades will be fast and easy.

"When you get an integrator that isn't focused on one particular product, they don't understand how to install the system which makes for a troubled install and problem ridden system," said Howell. "To the end user it looks like an unrealistic design and a system that is nothing but headaches. The end result is that the consultant, the integrator and the manufacturer look bad in the eye's of the end user. It's a lose-lose-lose scenario."

To avoid this situation, Howell now pre-qualifies integrators and limits the bidding process to those who are capable of quoting, installing, and servicing the equipment being specified. Just because an integrator has access to a product line does not mean they are qualified to install it.

"With companies that are focused on one product, it's almost a guarantee that the person showing up on site to work on the equipment is knowledgeable of that equipment," said Howell.

Integrators will spend less time on technical support calls and maintenance issues because they'll know the answers. They will eliminate lost productivity because they will have the knowledge to quickly troubleshoot and solve problems.

Acme Security Systems out of San Leandro, Calif., specializes on AMAG Technology's Symmetry Security Management System.

"We save money if our project managers can understand any issues before a problem occurs," said Acme Security Systems Executive Vice President, Steven E. Corey. "If a problem does come up in the field, there is a good chance that we have the answer without the need to call customer support and waste time with phone calls. Time is money, and the bottom line is always important."

They will save money on travel expenses as well. First, they will only send their technicians to one manufacturer for training, versus several manufacturers. Second, less maintenance time will be spent on a job site because there will be minimal maintenance needed due to their product expertise.

Integrators lose money by investing and stocking too many different products. They also experience lower customer satisfaction ratings because they cannot solve problems rapidly, and as a result, they lose business to companies that are better prepared. Stocking fewer products will provide lower inventory costs and a higher likelihood the products needed for an add-on or for maintenance are readily available, decreasing downtime by not waiting for a shipment and increasing customer satisfaction.

As a supplier of fewer product lines, purchasing power will grow and therefore qualify the company for a larger product discount. Larger margins will positively impact the welfare and longevity of the company.
"If you focus on one access control product, your pricing discounts will be very favorable," said Corey. "The manufacturer will also 'listen' to your needs much more if you're a major user of his equipment."

Systems integrators who specialize in few products experience a higher level of customer satisfaction. They will install systems with greater efficiency, the first time, thus keeping projects on time and on budget. Any technical questions can be answered on the spot by the installing technician. This builds credibility and your company looks like a true partner and expert in the market.

Confucius wrote, "To know what you know and to know what you don't know, that is real wisdom."

I prefer to say: "It is better to know a million things about one thing than one thing about a million things." Integrators have become jacks of all trades and masters of none - a business practice that affects their bottom line!

Matt Barnette is the vice president of Sales and Marketing, AMAG Technology.