Our goal in this article is to empower HOAs to be able to have intelligent conversations with their access control installers - specialists in gates, access control software, card readers, CCTV, etc.
First, understanding the sales cycle for access control products:
Access control has a sales cycle that goes:
- Manufacturers sell to distributors
- Distributors sell to installers
- Installers sell to HOA boards or property managers
- HOA boards or property managers sell to the community at large
We are a manufacturer, while we have a few direct accounts, most of our equipment gets sold to a distributor. Distributors in the access control industry purchase equipment like ours, CCTVs, electronic door locks, barrier arms, gate operators, keypad systems and more. They take this equipment and sell it to the installation companies in their local market.
Now to find the right access control integrator:
Start with a very rudimentary needs assessment
- What problem do you have that changing or implementing new access control could solve?
- What is a time frame for quotes, approval, and starting the work?
- What is the budget for the initial cost and ongoing maintenance?
You are now ready to reach out to vendors. If you're a member in an organization such as CAI or CACM their directories are a great place to look. You may also contact manufacturers, like us, and we would refer you to installers in your area. If we don't know any installers in your area, than we contact our distributors for a referral.
Once in contact with a few installers discuss your needs and ask for solutions. Ask each installer for two or three solutions to any one problem. In that way much like you want to speak with multiple installers you should get multiple ideas from each. This ensures you're hearing all of your options and can make the most informed purchase possible.
You should also discuss the installer's business. This can be a challenge as everyone wants a sale, but try to really figure out - does this installer focus on new installations, maintenance, or both? Our assessment indicates we need X, Y, and Z; do they provide all or some of this? Would any part of the proposal be subcontracted?
These are important questions to understand before hiring and can save both parties problems down the road. There's no right answer, but having incorrect assumptions leads to problems. For example, we hear from Board Members upset when ABC Company isn't getting back to them for maintenance. Except we know that ABC Company focuses on new installations. Their price structure and business model doesn't support sending a technician out for a smaller repair job. Likewise, we have partners that will do repair work on our equipment, but prefer not to be involved in new installations.
Similarly, and why it's good to ask about ideas is because some installers focus on fencing, mechanical gates, and barrier arms but maybe aren't as versed in networking, CCTV, and automated access control. Or the opposite and the company could do a lot networking and access automation but not be trained in mechanical gate operators and high voltage equipment.
Understanding your community's needs and managing expectations is key to being happy with your access control integrator.