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Tips for selecting your access control partner

The global access control market is forecast to be worth nearly $10 billion by 2022, with annual growth nearing 7.5 percent over the next six years, according to a recent report by Markets and Markets Research firm. The report indicates that access control has quickly become one of the top-selling segments of the physical security industry, and North America is expected to hold the largest share of the global access control market. If you’re a security integrator with an access control partner who does not meet your needs or are without an access control partner and solution on your line card, now is the time to consider getting in.

The projected growth makes an attractive proposition for system integrators, dealers and distributors looking to either add to their access control line or enter the market with a new offering. However, selecting the right manufacturer partner involves more than comparing price lists. There are many variables involved in selecting an access control partner, but most important are the manufacturer’s product development capabilities, service and support, and last, but not least, their reputation and track record.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

The pace of change in the physical security marketplace makes it imperative for access control manufacturers to regularly refresh their product line with software upgrades, new product solutions and increased integration capabilities. As an example, wireless locks are gaining significant traction in the marketplace because of flexible deployment and their use in providing users with cost-savings on infrastructure along with actionable intelligence. Manufacturers offering access controllers that fully integrate with today’s wireless locks provide a ready-made, trending solution for installers with a strong value proposition.

Security resellers looking to enter the access control market may want to consider doing so with a specialized product such as an emergency notification and lockdown system for the education market. These advanced systems provide real-time classroom status, updates and notifications to administrators and first responders using graphical maps, email and text messaging to assist in making split-second decisions in the event of an incident or developing situation. This is a hot category for the education market as well as mixed-use facilities that, pardon the pun, open doors for access sales and opportunities.

OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY

The operational efficiency of your access partner will greatly impact your long-term success. Even something as simple as a return policy can increase the potential for a satisfied end user. Additionally, working with a manufacturer that excels in operational efficiency makes managing inventory and acquiring goods smoother and more efficient for you.

Business priorities will differ from one sales organization to the next, but the following few measures should be operational standards for the manufacturer — efficient ordering and status; same-day shipment of core products; GSA and PEPPM purchasing contracts; clearly defined reseller contracts; fair access to marketing materials/ support; and equitable pricing policies.

REPUTATION/TRACK RECORD

When looking at a potential access control manufacturer partner, it can help to separate the criteria between hard and soft — hard being the product, pricing and technical requirements, with the soft involving more complex assessments relating to reputation and track record.

Reputation is earned through field-proven and time-tested installations for a solid base of clients. These same clients’ testimonies will become invaluable references for you. Company size and geographic location can also have a bearing on talent and how quickly situations are remediated. Manufacturers who produce their product off-shore may not be able to quickly address technical issues or react to changing needs. It’s important to know how long the company has been in business and specializing in access control products. If it’s just an off-shoot of their main physical security product line, it may be secondary to them and you may end up paying for their learning curve.

SUPPORT

In the highly competitive access control market, after-sales training and knowledgeable support are mandatory. A competent and knowledgeable manufacturer must have problem-solving experience with accessibility to key personnel ranging from customer service personnel and engineers to the corner office. This high level of support and accessibility will help propel sales and sustain long-term customer relationships.

The time is right to move into access control or enhance your current solution offerings with products that you and your customers can grow with. Follow the core criteria outlined for selecting an access control supplier, and you’ll open the door to new sales opportunities (pardon the pun one last time).

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Security Today.

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