Don’t be a turkey; read these awesome tips from integrators!

It’s been a few weeks since ISC Solutions in New York, but PSA Security Network and its members provided some great, free content in sessions just steps from the exhibit floor. While I didn’t get a chance to sit in on all of the educational events, a couple that I did manage to squeeze into my schedule provided some great tips on the marketplace and how to generate more recurring revenue. Dan Budinoff, president of Security Specialists, talked about his company’s work in the education market at the Monroe College and how to get business from this sometimes complicated vertical market. Budinoff said some of the challenges working in the college market include complying with building codes; fire codes; and multi-tenant housing. He said it’s important for systems integrators to get to know the client directly, especially the facilities directors. “These folks talk to each other, different facilities directors from other colleges and universities talk to each other. If you do a good job on the first one, make them feel like they are your only customer, you will get more work and referral. And for referrals, they don’t go shopping—you are their guy.” Budinoff said his company is not an equipment seller, but a solutions provider. As such, providing exceptional service is critical. The system Security Specialists installed at the Monroe College locations in the Bronx and New Rochelle campuses included about 450 cameras. Security Specialists prefers to build a separate network for cameras. “If you are going to do a lot of IP cameras, you have to build a new network—it’s the way to go.” Sharon Shaw, director of Education for PSA Security Network, moderated the session “Making Business Sense: Strategies for Surviving and Thriving in a Tough Economy.” “This is about what you can do to make a go of it and how to be successful today,” Shaw said. “Managed services is something I’m passionate about. The predictable cash flow can be just amazing,” she said. Bob Stockwell, director of Systems and Operations for Niscayah, said his systems integration company is doing both access control and video managed services. “About three years we partnered with a company specializing OPEX leasing, so you get 100 percent of the equipment costs back right away,” he said. “We are taking the manpower equation and putting it into the lease, so there are hard and soft costs.” He added that Niscayah also locks in a maintenance and service agreement with every deal. Patrick Egan, president and founder of Select Security, concurred that becoming a service provider is the way to go. “We don’t take anything without recurring revenue. We recently turned down a six-figure contract because someone else was going to do the service and maintenance for the fire alarm system,” he said. Egan added that it’s tough to grow sales with shrinking margins. “We do everything we can do to control costs, we scrap wire, etc. We shop, shop, shop. You have to control these costs.” Integrators increasingly have to remember that their services are valuable in the field, and to charge for them accordingly. Greg Pickard, president of Solutions International Inc., a security and investigations agency, said with regards to estimating, he gathers all the documentation “even before I go out to the job. We also charge a fee for doing specifications. We take that cost out of the system if they end up going with us,” Pickard said. –Deborah L. O’Mara, editor in chief, Security Dealer & Integrator magazine