Most integrators were busier than ever in 2021, with 67% of security professionals rating current business conditions as either “good” or “average” according to the SIA Security Market Index.
With that in mind, how do things look going into 2022?
The labor market is tight, and new technologies are beginning to change the way integration teams communicate, both around the office and in the field.
Additionally, the ongoing pandemic and the advent of remote work are causing some customers to rethink portions of their security strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at what best practices security integrators should consider in the new year.
Table of contents
- Ramp-up service-based revenue models.
- Leverage better lifecycle management systems.
- Offset labor and part shortages with automation tools.
- Demonstrate value and quality with accountability tools.
- Simplify your technology platforms and process workflows.
- Treat subcontractors as team players.
- Cultivate relationships, not projects.
1. Ramp-up service-based revenue models.
Integrators continue moving away from transactional, RFP-based bidding and toward account-based sales strategies.
Many integrators are finding revenue opportunities by deepening client relationships and working to stay with clients over the long term, rather than moving on after an RFP is completed.
In fact, 61% of respondents to a recent survey put out by NSCA said that the fiscal impact of recurring revenue from managed service or as-a-service offerings significantly improved their financial bottom line.
By leveraging recurring contract services to maintain contact with stakeholders and on-site administrators over time, integrators can continue working with companies to develop new security opportunities based on their needs.
This approach saves time and money by reducing client acquisition costs and allows your team to continue adding value and expertise leading to future contracts.
2. Leverage better lifecycle management systems.
Even when installations go smoothly, lifecycle management continues to be an ongoing challenge for system end users.
Your customers often lack the knowledge, skill, and tools to stay on top of their system as it ages. Often, they track to tackle these tasks using spreadsheets, floor plans, and back-of-the-napkin solutions that quickly become disorganized and outdated.
Integrators can assist customers with budget planning and create new opportunities by helping end users resolve administrative issues or by introducing them to innovative technology solutions to improve their understanding of their system’s evolution from operation to retirement.
Savvy integrators might even use predictive analytics and similar tools to keep an eye on security solutions they have previously installed and start notifying past customers as products begin to reach their sunset period.
3. Offset labor and part shortages with automation tools.
Heading into 2022, every integrator should be prepared for the labor market to remain tight. This challenge has plagued the industry for years and has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On top of labor shortages, we’ll continue to see the semiconductor shortage impact the security sector. This was a topic of major discussion during the Securing New Ground CONNECT back in October.
Even though the semiconductor industry is increasing investments in an attempt to meet current demand, the International Data Corporate (IDC) suggests device shortages and back-ordered parts may be commonplace in the back half of 2022 and well into 2023.
For integrators, this likely means planning smart and trying to get the most out of your team by leveraging technology to automate systems and processes.
For example, set up systems to automatically re-order standard parts when inventory runs low and use project management platforms to dispatch technicians directly from their homes to the job site, saving an inefficient trip to the office.
Using technology as a force multiplier to make your team more productive and efficient can help you stave off the worst of the dry spell while the market recovers.
4. Demonstrate value and quality with accountability tools.
SiteOwl had the opportunity to attend several conferences this year, including the Total Tech Summit in mid-November.
In the conversations we had with integrators from across the nation, we learned many integrators are keen to adopt cloud-based technology tools that allow them to demonstrate accountability and prove the value provided in modern service contracts.
A common challenge in selling service contracts for many integrators is clearly communicating the value routine maintenance and upkeep provides. Customers who sign onto a maintenance plan may not have confidence they are receiving the detailed field audits they have purchased when presented with a paper report.
Now, with security management platforms like SiteOwl allowing technicians to capture images, report progress in real time, and sign off on their work product, service managers have the ability to share detailed evidence with a high degree of accuracy what work has been performed as technicians service a site’s security infrastructure.
5. Simplify your technology platforms and process workflows.
Technology tools can be a valuable asset to any team, but every integrator has to balance the benefits of new technologies and new processes with how long it takes to get everyone to use them.
Just think about it. When was the last time you introduced a new system to your team? How long did it take before everyone got onboard? How many mistakes were made before you began to see the benefits of that new workflow?
If you’re looking to work smarter in 2022, examine your tech stack and your process list for ways to simplify.
Inflexible or open-form systems don’t work very well if you’re trying to create reliable and consistent outputs, and they make field installations painful to manage.
Job notes are a great example of this. Leaving questions open to interpretation will result in inconsistent job notes that are difficult to understand as varying levels of detail are provided by each technician.
Rather than trusting everyone on the team to interpret details in the same way, create streamlined solutions that are straightforward without being overcomplicated.
This is also true for the technology tools you use. Some platforms are so complicated the onboarding process can take months of training for your team to understand how to use it.
Open-ended technology management platforms like Connectwise or Autotask might be flexible enough to help integrators, but they aren’t specialized to the role. This means setup and customization take time and may require months to get right.
Instead, take advantage of platforms that are intuitive and geared to your specific needs right out of the box so that you can turn them on and get up and running without any major barriers to entry.
6. Treat subcontractors as team players
In light of the ongoing labor shortage, subcontractors have become a fact of life for most integrators. But many integrators still restrict subcontracting teams to specific objectives and tasks when working on projects.
From the integrators we’ve spoken to, this often comes down to issues of trust and quality control. It’s hard bringing in third-party contractors to get the job done, especially if you think they lack the ability to adhere to a high level of performance.
Even so, you’ll get more mileage from your subcontracting teams if you treat them like team players rather than secondhand labor.
Plus, at this stage, doing so may be critical to your business model. According to one report, up to 35% of installing dealers say that the inability to hire necessary employees is an inhibitor to security sales.
If quality control is a concern, when handing larger workloads to subcontractors, use oversight tools to ensure your standards are maintained and documented as the project comes together.
For example, SiteOwl can be set up to require technician signoff and image uploads when an installation is complete, so you’ll have a record of labor for all work completed. If you find that installation work is subpar, you’ll know exactly who to talk to in order to address the issue.
It’s fast and simple, and it enables your subcontractors a more efficient means to communicate with your team and more time to get the work done correctly and on time.
7. Cultivate relationships, not projects.
Heading into 2022, working to foster stronger customer relationships is a must for integrators who want to thrive.
If you haven’t already taken steps to become a strategic partner for your customers, start getting a system in place to break away from the feast-or-famine cycle that is so common when chasing RFPs.
While service-based solutions (#1 on our list) play a role here, building strong customer relationships is a much broader strategy designed to reduce customer attrition by creating accounts that last.
Exactly how you approach this will vary depending on your resources. Service departments and ABM strategies are both viable options. If you have a savvy marketing team, newsletters and emails might be a way to get your foot in the door.
But your outreach can’t stop with just a polite email or a phone call.
Today’s business owners aren’t just looking for security professionals who can install alarm systems and video surveillance. They’re looking for partnerships that can help them tackle complicated processes and provide new technology solutions that meet their security requirements.
A strong customer relationship will help you capture more of a customer’s business and act as a business differentiator that insulates your team from and outside competitors.
Without that existing relationship, the price often becomes the defining factor that customers follow when selecting an integrator to execute on a project — something that isn’t good when both customers or integrators are looking for an outstanding integration experience.
Business owners want to work with someone they know and trust, and they’re willing to pay a premium for it. According to PWC, businesses that offer a great customer experience enjoy a 16% premium on products and services — and that’s a major boost to the bottom line for any integrator.
Better integration systems in 2022
Reviewing our list, you’ll notice that the market trends going into 2022 are centered around two big ideas: deeper customer relationships and widespread technology adoption.
Even though these feel like unconnected ideas, they are more closely connected than you might think.
The right technology tools will allow you to grow your bottom line and operate more efficiently while providing the data and tools you need to develop stronger relationships with every customer.
SiteOwl can help with that. Click here to schedule a demo with our team and to learn how our platform can help you deliver better projects even faster.