Expand your horizons

Saturday, November 1, 2008

N ot too long ago, security was a standalone profession. There wasn’t much crossover between home theater, IT, telephone and security. Oh, how times have changed. While we can all see products that are blurring the lines, very few dealers and integrators are truly taking advantage of this crossover. Security dealers are in a unique position to grow their businesses with their existing clientele and move into other markets, even in a down economy. Unique, because most security professionals already possess the skills necessary to move into these markets.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a specialization. You absolutely should. But you should never leave money on the table due to specialization blinders.

Moving into new markets doesn’t have to be a frightening or earth-shattering experience. A security professional doesn’t have to start a new home theater or IT division in order to grow. Simply offer your customer a little extra when installing a security system. You’re already pulling wire for cameras, so suggest pulling more for video and audio. You’re already mounting the cameras, so why not put up a mount for the customer’s new plasma? You’re already showing the customer how to see the cameras on the TV, so suggest programming their remote to work everything. The list goes on and on. Explain to your customer that adding a service or two now can substantially save them down the road by eliminating the need for an entirely new job. Adding one extra service adds revenue to your pocket, opens up a new area of growth, and adds to your company’s resume.

This doesn’t have to start and end with residential applications. Opportunities exist in the commercial security sector as well. Many companies specialize in security offices and warehouses. Be a “one stop shop” for this as well. A security professional already has the know-how to do most of the work. Don’t spec only the DVR and cameras. Bid for more of the job. You don’t have to “win” everything, but if you are able to get the security side and run wire for the whole building’s audio and video, you just doubled your billing and let the client know you can do more. Now on the second bid you’re doing three or four jobs instead of two. Let the client see you understand the whole process. In the end, that client may refer you to his or her partners or colleagues for other jobs that aren’t just security.

Growth can also come from the product side as well. By offering more services, you’re almost guaranteed to sell more products. Now that you have the customer for cameras, DVR, and maybe a monitor, this can turn into a mount for the TV, the remote for the system, and HDMI cables to connect everything together. It’s these small accessories that increase profits and expand business.

What if the customer has all of these things and just needs a camera system? Then what? There is still an opportunity here, as well. With home networking on the rise, the security professional can still increase what they offer. Incorporate the security system into their home theater. Enable the customer to watch who is at the door with a push of a button from the home theater remote. Set up the computers so the customer can see the home or office via IP addressable location surveillance.

Let the customer know that you can incorporate everything together even if someone else laid the groundwork.

Just because the word “security” or “alarm” is in your company description, it shouldn’t mean you have to let other non-security business become someone else’s job. As a business owner, look to this as an add-on to your expertise instead of a new business altogether. Make yourself more important and diverse to your customer and customer base as a whole. Doing so can add to your bottom line without breaking your bank. In fact, it may just add to your bank account.