Why bigger isn't always better when selecting an access control partner

Smaller vendors can be more flexible and open to customization for their customers


Note: Galaxy Control Systems President Robert Laughlin offers a personal view related to his experiences of the advantages of working with small to mid-sized access control technology vendors based on his many years as one of the industry’s most respected technology pioneers.

We’ve seen an increase in the number of conglomerates formed in the security industry over the past several years. Conversely, we’ve seen some conglomerates dissolved and broken back down into individual and often privately held companies. Needless to say it’s an interesting cycle, especially from the perspective of an independent access control company playing in the same market .

 At the end of the day though, one needs to look at the business ramifications that customers face when dealing with big versus small to medium sized technology providers. Given the nature of access control systems and the on-going service and support these systems demand to ensure continuous and reliable operation, small to medium size access control partners can often deliver more advantages given their technology focus and customer relations. Here’s some food for thought.

Innovation is big at small companies

Every facility and installation is different. Even franchised businesses that follow the same construction and design models are never quite  the same from one to the next. Consequently, off-the-shelf access control solutions rarely provide the specific versatility and desired functionality that customers are looking for in their particular situation. It’s no secret that some big companies have problems dealing with anything that could be conceived as “customized” and typically leave that task to the installing dealer or customer’s internal techies.

Small/medium access control solution providers like Galaxy Systems Control have built their businesses on catering to the specific needs of customers and their installations of all sizes and geographies. The same holds true in terms of software development. Competing against big companies’ marketing budgets and sophisticated sales pitches requires small/medium technology providers to be innovative in terms of developing new solutions, while at the same time being conscious of a customer’s investment in existing legacy technologies. Providing new solutions to longstanding problems that can be implemented on legacy and future access control system deployments is innovative. Rip and replacement solutions are not.

Making personal connections

It’s interesting to note that some big companies frequently invest big dollars trying to emulate the intimate relationships that small companies establish with their customers. And the focus on customer service is a trending issue which continues to be well represented in social media with big and small brands alike. Most small/medium sized independent companies don’t need to work on building personal relationships with their reseller partners and customers as they are typically built this way from the start. The fact is that all customers want to feel as if they are your most important customer – and that you intimately understand their needs and connect to them.

Communicating clearly and with substance

In this day of instantaneous and constant communications, why is it that personal connections sometimes seem more difficult than ever before? Perhaps it’s the reluctance of today’s workers to pick up the telephone and actually speak with customers, or the fact that individuals are more tasked than they were in prior years with a relentless assault of communications 24/7/365.

This seems to be more the case with the larger companies, as the number of internal interactions at a large company typically increases to reply to important issues. Many smaller companies are modeled to be more streamlined and can react faster to questions and issues simply because they are not as layered. The people who sold the system are typically accountable for supporting their customers and can spend more time communicating electronically, over the phone or in person. At the end of the day, customers want to know that they have a go-to person they can rely on when they need them most – which typically is when something goes wrong. Small/medium companies generally deliver clearer and more direct lines of communication, which expedites information sharing.

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