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Dealer programs are not new to the industry, but many emerging programs are, as increasingly more manufacturers are unveiling them to attract dealers.
Sifting through the myriad options can be daunting for dealers looking to grow their businesses via program partnerships.
How do security professionals know when to play and when to pass, so to speak, on particular opportunities?
To make the best decision possible for their individual businesses, dealers and integrators should closely examine their individual business model and expansion objectives.
Most programs offered by manufacturers provide product discounts and training to enable dealers to effectively sell their brand.
Aligning with a manufacturer specific to the types of installations they design and sell (i.e., IP/video surveillance, access control, etc.) makes good sense for dealers seeking to really become an expert in a brand and leverage free training, technical support and other program perks.
Ahead we see what’s in the cards for three industry dealer programs and gain perspective from participating dealers on how those partnerships are reshaping their businesses.
A sidebar box provides a sampling of company URLs that will lead you to information on many more partner programs to peruse.
Strauss Security Says Bravo to Brivo
A family-owned business in operation for some 85 years, Strauss Security Solutions of Des Moines, Iowa, is a full-service residential and commercial security company. Its scope of services spans burglar alarms, video surveillance, fire detection and access systems.
Strauss met with Brivo, a leader in cloud-based physical access control and mobile credentials, six years ago at ISC West and embarked on their partnership very soon after.
“We partnered with Brivo mainly because of the strong support they provide us,” says Karen Goldsworth, sales manager, Strauss Security Solutions. “We especially like being able to enhance our recurring revenue with their cloudbased card access and CCTV promotion that we’ve used through the dealer program.”
Other key support services Strauss enjoys with Brivo come through its lead generation, advertising, promotional and training programs, according to Goldsworth.
“We’ve been able to do more regional and print and radio promotion, which we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” Goldsworth says.
Although she notes that the results of radio advertising can be hard to measure, she says Strauss manages to track very solid results from their print ads. Much of that comes from marketing to business leaders through a local publication, The Business Record.
Training is another key attraction to the program for Strauss, who points out Brivo’s user-friendliness and online educational video library as a couple of partnership benefits that have helped the dealer grow its business.
“In addition to Brivo University, Brivo provides resources and tools on their website for our techs. Their help screen is one of the easiest to use, so when end users have questions, I go to their site and download the PDFs and send them to the end user,” Goldsworth explains. “Their support brings validity to our company not only through promotion opportunities but also through their Dealer Council, which allows us to provide end-user feedback back to the manufacturer.”
To that last point, Goldsworth says she’s impressed that the feedback actually impacts the solutions Brivo and Strauss can offer customers.
She relays how one end user’s business was open every other Saturday, rather than every Saturday, which made setting and changing the access schedules somewhat time consuming. Brivo addressed the issue with a tweak that resolved the hassle.
“So I always tell customers when we’re installing a solution if there’s anything they see that they’d like to tweak, this manufacturer is so willing to make enhancements. We’re extremely impressed with the support,” she says.
For those considering a dealer program, Goldsworth emphasizes they take advantage of the growth opportunities and have employees trained on the products.
“When your staff knows it, they’re able to share it with their end users and this makes installations go smoother,” she says. “Partnering with Brivo has allowed us to open into markets that we otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Why Ednetics Trusts Arecont’s Vision
Ednetics, headquartered in Post Falls, Idaho, was founded in 1997 and provides integrated IT solutions for education and government operations. These include wired and wireless networks, facilities security, datacenter, VoIP communications, and ISP.
Dave Teague, director, Ednetics Protect, explains that Ednetics chose to partner with IP and megapixel video surveillance camera specialist Arecont Vision after evaluating the market and determining that Arecont offered best-of-breed products and exceeded customer requirements.
“Arecont has been a leader in megapixel cameras for years. Being made in the USA was also important to us,” Teague adds. “Services that Ednetics leverages the most include project registration, extended warranties and advanced RMAs [return merchandise authorizations].”
While Ednetics started out 20 years ago as an IT integration company, it didn’t start providing security integration services until six years ago. Thanks in part to relationships like it has with Arecont, Teague reports that Ednetics now ranks as one of, if not the largest IT security integrator in the Pacific Northwest.
“Being an authorized dealer has helped us separate ourselves from the competition by showing our customers we have a great relationship with our manufacturer,” he says. “We only work with companies willing to truly partner with us. Partner programs are the first step in protecting the investments we make in taking the time to create demand and sell a product.”
According to Teague, Ednetics’ partnership with Arecont has assisted them in achieving 50% growth annually for the past three years. He recommends that other integrators considering partnering with a company as an authorized dealer make sure there is real value and investment on both sides.
Cop Some Benefits Without Selling Accounts
Dealer programs offered by monitoring companies typically require that the dealer sell their monitoring contracts in return for the funding and added sales and marketing assistance they need to grow their customer base.
For those dealers not looking to sell their accounts, one of the programs offered by COPS Monitoring is a bit different than that of most monitoring companies and may provide an attractive alternative.
COPS does not purchase, fund or own any accounts in any way, but rather offers its dealers a few funding programs from select third-party providers.
Some programs are sales of accounts, while others are funding programs where the dealer gets to keep the contract — and the equity — after the terms of the funding have been met, explains Jim McMullen, president and COO.
It’s an important distinction, because most “wholesale” central stations also own their own accounts, and COPS is 100% wholesale.
“We do not compete with our dealers by owning accounts,” McMullen says. “COPS Monitoring is completely dedicated to supporting the independent alarm dealer. One of the primary differentiators with COPS is that we do not spec, sell, install or monitor [our own] systems, or compete with our dealers for business in any way. Our business is third-party monitoring, which means that our success is dependent on our dealers’ success.”
The goal, McMullen adds, is to be a partner to dealers and support them with the best products and services to help them run their business and make their jobs easier.
That way, they can focus on sales, installation and properly serving their customers. Some of that help includes direct subscriber and billing.
“Just as our monitoring is done representing the dealer, all invoices and other customer communications to a dealer’s customers are sent in their company name,” McMullen notes. “COPS does all the invoicing, collects the payments, and writes a check to our dealer after deducting the direct billing fees.”
Dealers can also elect to have COPS provide a telephone answering service — the TeleMax Messaging Service — to field customer inquiries when they’re unable to answer the phone so they never miss a sales call.
And COPS’ MPower service provides dealers with online tools to manage their account database, activity and invoices from anywhere. The monitoring provider has a dedicated dealer support department to assist dealers with most of their needs, McMullen adds.
“If the dealers’ needs are more technical in nature, we also have a very knowledgeable technical support team who can help dealers with programming questions,” he says. “With regard to funding programs, although COPS does not purchase accounts directly, we have relationships with select companies that can provide our dealers with the operating capital they need. Some programs are straight account purchase where dealers sell monitoring contacts outright for a set multiple of RMR, while others are loan against accounts and allow a dealer to get the funding they need without sacrificing long-term equity in their company.”
The only requirement for dealers to have access to these benefits is to have their accounts monitored with COPS. Some of these services are free (MPower dealer access, subscriber access, marketing support, equipment discounts, videos for their website are offered at no charge), while others are offered as premiums.