What Dealers Want From Their Distributors Today…
And what distributors are doing to meet those needs.
How to do more with fewer resources? How to serve new types of customers, enter new lines of business or simply add more devices to installations? All security dealers have questions such as these — and as they ponder them, one of the best places to turn for answers may be their equipment distributor.
HOW CAN I DO MORE WITH LESS?
Whether dealers are experiencing a profit squeeze from increased competition or simply having trouble finding skilled labor, their equipment distributor may be able to help.
For dealers looking to keep headcount to a minimum, distributors offer a range of options that can make operations more efficient.
For example, Hickory, N.C.-based distributor The Systems Depot has a daily delivery route around its distribution centers, eliminating the need for technicians to take time out of their day to go to the distribution center to pick up equipment.
Dealers can get equipment delivered the next day at no charge or get it the same day for a fee if they order by 8:30 a.m., explains Michael Lingle, marketing manager for The Systems Depot.
Another time saver comes from ScanSource, which offers what the company calls SNAP tools to help expedite the process of selecting the right equipment for a job. The Greenville, S.C.-based distributor recently expanded its SNAP tool offerings, developed in house, and now has tools available for video surveillance, access control and wired and wireless networking, explains Christie Hamberis, senior vice president of ScanSource Networking and Security.
In the case of security cameras, for example, “a technician could use a desktop or mobile app to access built-in directories to help calculate field of view, bandwidth, storage and voltage requirements — the functionality is extremely simple and fast,” Hamberis comments.
ScanSource and some other distributors also offer configuration services, minimizing the amount of time a dealer’s technicians must spend programming equipment.
WHAT IF I NEED SKILLS MY PEOPLE DON’T HAVE?
Sometimes a distributor can help fill in gaps in dealer skill sets or augment those skill sets.
For example, technicians at Westwood, Mass.-based distributor Security Lock Distributors Inc. will do what Michael Clebnik, executive director- sales & partnerships for Security Lock Distributors, calls a “virtual walk through” of a prospective job site with a dealer’s technicians, using modern videoconferencing tools to help in selecting the right equipment for a job.
“We help them with the door hardware component,” Clebnik comments. “We’re literally walking the job with them.”
Meanwhile, Mahwah, N.J.-based distributor eDist Security can eliminate or minimize the need for dealer marketing staff. eDist has a sister company that specializes in marketing and dealers can earn marketing credits equal to 2 percent of what they spend on certain vendors. Dealers can accumulate in a portal and spend with the sister company, explains Nick Scarane, eDist Security president.
A wide range of marketing support is available, including social media, email blasts, door hangers, van wrappers and more, he notes.
If a dealer can’t find technicians with certain types of experience, an obvious solution is to train existing staffers — and distributors can be a big help in that regard.
Access Hardware Supply, for example, has seen strong demand for training on basic electronic relays.
“We teach basic troubleshooting so people can be confident that, yes a part is bad and the part they’re ordering is actually needed,” explains Bill Smoyer, western regional sales manager for the San Leandro, Calif.-based distributor.
That training was created by Access Hardware and is vendor-neutral, but dealers also may find training on a wide range of topics provided by manufacturers’ representatives scheduled for a distributor location at certain dates and times. Some distributors say IP networking is a particularly hot training topic.
I NEED TO FIND NEW LINES OF BUSINESS
In search of new revenues, dealers may consider getting into new lines of business — and here, too, a distributor can help.
ScanSource, for example, offers what the company calls “FastPath” training for several manufacturers. As a dealer looks to get into a new line, technicians can quickly get up to speed on those manufacturers by taking the FastPath training, Hamberis explains.
Glenview, Ill.-based distributor Anixter has been seeing more security dealers wanting to get into professional audio visual, observes Matt Powers, Anixter vice president of global technology services. Another hot area is providing city-wide wireless systems, Powers notes.
To help dealers learn about new technologies such as these, Anixter invites dealers to one of its four briefing centers nationwide, two of which were opened just this year.
Increasingly, dealers also are looking at providing security systems for business customers that have locations in multiple countries, notes James Rothstein, Anixter senior vice president of global security marketing.
Dealers’ multi-national business customers “are looking for standards across their business,” Rothstein says. Anixter has locations around the world, putting the company in a good position to serve those customers, he observes.
Another new business that dealers may be interested in but may want help on is the do-it-yourself (DIY) market. eDist Security offers a tailored program for those dealers that includes creating customized kits with the equipment the dealer wants to support and shipping them directly to the end user, Scarane explains.
Dealers offering self-installed systems view it as a means of getting ongoing monthly monitoring revenue, he notes.
CAN YOU HELP ME FIND NEW CUSTOMERS?
Another way distributors may be able to help dealers is by helping them identify potential new customers. For example, Fremont, Calif.-based distributor Synnex Corporation keeps track of public sector purchase requests, including those from the General Services Administration, for IT, audio visual and security equipment, which can be an excellent source of leads for the company’s dealer customers.
Synnex also gives dealers the opportunity to learn about specific vertical markets at its “Red, White & You” road shows, which include workshops, breakouts, and a vendor pavilion as well as networking opportunities.
And for dealers that would like to take on bigger projects but are concerned they might be too big, Synnex offers the RISE program. That program provides equipment financing for those dealers that might not have sufficient cash on hand to purchase the equipment needed for a major job.
AM I TAKING FULL ADVANTAGE OF DISTRIBUTOR RESOURCES?
Clearly any security dealer that views its distributor as simply a provider of equipment is missing out on some potentially valuable opportunities. Whether a dealer needs help with training, making operations more efficient or in pursuit of new lines of business and new types of customers, the company’s distributor can be an excellent place to find that help.