First, Choose Wisely
Q: What is the deal with residential video? Is it a viable market for the average dealer?
A: Residential CCTV is an untapped market representing both challenges and rewards to the installer. Dealers involved in integration will find CCTV as indispensable a tool in the residential and low-end commercial security market, as it is in corporate, financial and government applications.
"Old School" dealers probably remember when CCTV was so specialized and costly that most of the large projects were snared by specialized CCTV contractors. Today, the market for video has broadened; pricing has gone down with streamlined technology and offshore production; and it is ripe for dealers of all size to enter.
Before discussing the unique aspects of the residential video surveillance market, first realize that the dealer is still faced with selecting the right technologies from the right vendors. You have to be careful about what you provide your clients because life safety and security are at stake.
High quality and extended features, available at a lower price point, are suitable for residential applications. Entire systems can be purchased for the same price as a single high-end commercial surveillance camera. But, you're faced with increased competition from direct marketers and home centers. They service the do-it-yourself. market, and they aren't going away. But as a dealer, you how to carve your niche by providing the needed technology and customer service.
There may be a world of difference between requirements and expectations for a residential video system then the commercial security you provide. You may have read about and viewed with envy, the high tech desert oasis systems done for some movie star or stockbroker where money was no object. But, the average residential video system client is likely to be more like the typical alarm customer. Even if a customer is computer literate, they may not be ready to take on the peculiarities of DVRS, IR illumination and IP addressing; all issues which will need to be dealt with when deploying most residential video.
Q: How can I get training in system integration?
A: In order to function in the security industry, it's necessary to stay up to date on technology and products. If you want to keep your alarm license, you must first meet preliminary technical competency levels, then fulfill "in-service" requirements set forth by the jurisdiction or agency which controls licensing.
Certification classes are offered by entities such as private technical schools, some community colleges, and industry trade organizations (such NBFAA and SIA). Distributors, state alarm organizations and manufacturers also offer training and seminars are part of the perks at national and regional trade shows. Look for classes that offer certification and/or CEUs.
If you are looking to fulfill in-service certification requirements for your license, you should verify that the class you are registering for will count towards these requirements. In some cases, the word certification refers to fulfilling an individual manufacturer's certification requirements for a dealer to sell or service a product. These classes may enable you to perform warranty service on existing installations. Having product certification can also put you in the loop for referrals from manufacturers and regional sales reps.
Security Dealer Technical Editor Tim O'Leary is a 30-year veteran in the security industry and a 10-year contributor to the magazine. O'Leary's background encompasses having been a security consultant since 1986 and an independent security company owner/operator, in addition to his research and evaluation of new technologies and products introduced to the physical and electronic security fields. He is a member of the VBFAA (Virginia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association); certified for Electronic Security Technician and Sales by the VADCJS (Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services); and has served as a judge for the SIA New Product Showcase. Send your integration questions to Tim.Oleary@secdealer.com.