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Put Away Your Worry Beads. DIY Is NOT Coming for Commercial Access Control.


DIY is NOT coming for commercial access control

Security integrators are hearing alarm bells as DIY systems spread beyond the home security sector. Cloud solutions make it incredibly easy to mount a few cameras, connect them to an app, get mobile alerts when activity is detected, and view what’s happening in real-time or recorded video. It’s no wonder that small business owners are questioning the need to pay a professional to install a VMS solution.


Access control is a different breed. Security integrators can rest assured that these sales aren’t going away any time soon, even among those who cater primarily to small commercial customers.


Yes, some customers may give DIY a try. They may feel empowered by their successful experience putting up cameras, and the internet is laden with how-to videos that make installing access control seem like a piece of cake. Before they bite off more than they can chew, security integrators can help prospective customers understand what’s really involved. Here’s what they need to hear from you:


Installation is complicated

Installation is complicated

Installing an access control system will require drilling through door frames or coring doors to run electrified wire. They’ll need to know how to work with doors featuring different designs and fabrication methods. Their office or retail space may have doors made of glass, wood, or metal, each requiring different types of locks. Elevators require special attention. Access control systems include door positioning sensors, request-to-exit devices, and other components that are challenging to install correctly. Cable must be run through walls and ceilings. And, of course, there are the readers and controllers, which must communicate in different ways and require configuration. Online videos that show the “simplicity” of installing an electric lock represent a fraction of the installation process.


Integrated Solutions

Integrated solutions add value

Access control can do much more than allow users to open doors. Through integration, they add convenience and functionality to a range of platforms. For example, gyms can integrate access control with their membership software. Members can use their phones to access the facility, but if they default on their account, their access is automatically turned off. Integration with time-and-attendance and visitor management systems allows administrators to keep track of who is on the property in case of emergencies. Connecting access control with video management platforms automates the display of access control events as they occur and ties video clips to access event logs for easy call-up.


DIY systems will never provide the flexibility and customization that professional integrations offer. They are designed to be narrow problem solvers, with a limited feature set, and intended to work as a standalone technology. If integrations are possible, they are with proprietary solutions with limited capabilities.


Spending on a DIY system today will require spending a second time, down the road, when the business owner wants to scale up but can't. In the long run, they won’t be saving any money; they’ll be paying more.


PDK Tech Support

Time is money

"You get what you pay for" is especially true regarding tech support. Remind prospective customers that if their DIY system stops working, they may be communicating with tech support via email, waiting 2-4 days for a response.


Access control is vital to business operations. When a security integrator installs access control, the customer knows who to call and how to get the help they need, pronto. That's huge.


Furthermore, technology requires care and feeding over the long haul. Otherwise, it stops working. Every hour customers spend maintaining their system is time they're not doing something else. What is their time worth? Couldn't a professional who works with security systems daily for a living perform maintenance far more efficiently? Customers shouldn't think only of how DIY is "saving" money on labor. They must also calculate whether they could generate a higher return on their time by performing tasks that grow their business.


Learning from mistakes

Given all of this advice, there are going to be businesses that go the DIY route anyway. Don’t worry. They will learn from experience and eventually realize the need for a professionally installed solution. When that time comes, you’ll be ready to support them. Access control will continue to be a primary driver of revenue for security integrators for the foreseeable future. DIY solutions can’t compete with the functionality, convenience, and value that industry professionals can deliver.


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