Shifting focus

Former Infrastruct CEO helps integrator create RMR
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas—Internal Control Systems’ director of sales and marketing Daniel Weiss has a mandate for his sales people: RMR should be a component of every account you sell.

Weiss’ new requirement is showing some success. In the last six months ICS took this approach to Houston, where it recently opened an office. During that time, the company created “15 new clients ... from office buildings to warehouses, and 85 percent of those contracts had some form of RMR,” Weiss said. He added: “We created $2,000 a month in new RMR and we still had 30 percent margin on those installs.”

Contrary to the alarm company model (where dealers spend money creating an account and recoup that investment over the course of three years or so), Weiss points out that his RMR-building plan has a “negative creation model.”

Weiss is the founder and former CEO of Infrastruct, a systems integrator with a focus on critical infrastructure, based in Houston. Weiss is still an investor in the company, but stepped down from the top role in 2009. Infrastruct in April 2010 resurrected the name of a company it had merged with and rebranded as Dowley Security Systems. Weiss also is the founder of EPS, a commercial security company that was acquired by Tyco and became part of Sonitrol in 2000.

Weiss came to ICS because its owners, Mike and Diane Jackson, were interested in redirecting the business model to focus on service and RMR. ICS has 30 employees and four offices (here, and in San Antonio, Houston and the South Texas Valley). Weiss said he liked the fact that “it’s a strong technical company—they’re a DSX and Hirsh dealer with thousands of access control clients in the small, mid- and enterprise class, and a huge collection in the mid-range with four to eight readers.”

Offering hosted services (ICS offers hosted access through an arrangement with Acadian Monitoring) is key to creating RMR, but service contracts, maintenance and inspection or traditional monitoring are also part of the picture, and the sales pitch.

To transition to a service model, integrators need to “change their mentality from just big-bid projects, to now more big- and middle-sized projects with RMR,” he said.

There’s also internal accounting, he said. “For the operations people, it’s getting used to the fact that it’s not all time-and-materials anymore,” he said. Now, he said, “those people will have to determine what kind of service coverage that client has, and what the integrator’s obligation is to the client.”

The alarm guys know well how to manage that kind of accounting as well as contracts, which is something else integrators need to become conversant with, he said.

Integrators don’t typically “know what they need to have in an RMR-style contract, what language, terms, liability, and coverages you need.”

Weiss said his marketing efforts are focused on search engine optimization and the development of a good customer-relationship management program. “You need to have a really good database,” he said. And the change in mentality and process has to occur throughout the company’s systems. “In sales, operations, accounting, you’ve got to know how to price, sell, bill, and write contracts,” he said.