Whether you inherited an existing system or are starting from scratch on developing your property’s security architecture, here are some key questions to ask prospective access control and security dealers.
1. What are your credentials and experience?
If they only dabble in self storage access control and security, “Move on,” said Jarad Bailey, president of Dallas Automatic Gate, an owner-operated dealer in business since the 1980s and longtime PTI Security partner.
Bailey notes that operators should ask for the basics: years in business, areas of expertise, licensing, and proper insurance.
The dealer should have a firm grasp on regulations specific to your geographic area and type of facility, as well as the specific security equipment and access control requirements you need and will use. For example, Bailey said, “Most welders say they work on gates, but they won’t know specifically about the sensitivity of working on access control with gates.”
You’ll pay more for the expertise of experienced dealers, but they will fix any problems and outline your solutions more clearly and efficiently, saving money in the long run.
2. What lines do you offer?
You want a security dealer to be a dealer of specific products with which they are highly familiar,” noted Bailey. “You’re not just looking for an electrician.”
Dealers that have longstanding relationships with a manufacturer will also tend to get the newest technology rapidly and have access to resources to install it for you very soon after it’s available. Matt Beil, owner of Forward Sound & Communications, said that he is often asked if the manufacturer will upgrade equipment automatically when needed. A dealer that knows their lines well can answer that question easily while conveying the benefits of upgrading to newer equipment or technology, and ensure their operators are always up to date.
Todd McClure, Director of Business Development at Automated Security, a top PTI Security partner for more than two decades, echoes the advantages of experienced dealers/integrators who have strong manufacturer relationships.
“We have parts on hand all the time. We eat, sleep, and breathe self storage. We’re faster with troubleshooting because we understand the ins and outs of the PTI systems and can diagnose issues remotely before we even roll a truck to a facility.”
3. When should the dealer become part of the process?
With new construction, McClure advises that it should be early. Experienced dealers can assist with understanding the flow of the facility and which security elements are most necessary versus relying on the architect’s renderings alone.
- Do you need cameras just at building entry or at every stairwell?
- Which specific areas require access control and keypads?
- Who should be allowed to have access?
Dealers can identify places to maximize the value of security elements and cut others that aren’t needed. He encourages operators to ask about the various options available and discuss which elements are most important to the operator and tenants. That way the design can maximize the budget to focus on priorities.
“It’s best to have these dialogues up front, McClure said. “It’s more complex and costly to switch plans mid-project with changes.”
4. Can you address our particular concerns?
Every facility is different. From location to clientele to the experience you want to create, make sure your partner understands your unique operational needs. A dealer can do just that, noted Bailey.
“We can find blind spots so that we avoid thefts later. Understanding your customer base and local challenges makes us helpful advisors beyond installation experts. For example, we can tighten up security on surface lots in urban areas and enhance parking access in more rural areas that see heavy RV use.”
Advising on access control locations, door versus gate-only locks, and enhancing contactless experiences are all within the dealer’s expertise. Beil noted that operators often regret not installing door security to CCTV if they don’t choose it as part of their initial security plan.
“We can always add it, but we can provide that insight up front so it’s not a missed opportunity for our operators to strengthen security at the unit level earlier.”
Regardless of needs, a dealer should take the time to understand the unique security concerns and goals of the facilities to craft the right quote.
5. Can you scale with us and future-proof our facilities?
“Access protects assets,” said Bailey. “When you expand the square footage of your facilities, your security footprint needs to be widened, as well. Dealers can talk through your current needs but also identify ways to proactively prepare for future changes with minimal disruption.”
Beil noted that his company future proofs all installations, whether or not the customer asks for it.
“We do nothing substandard, and we know that technology is constantly evolving. You don’t want to daisy chain cable in five years or less.” Beil continues, “Forward Sound & Communications’ wiring designs create a common pathway to a central point in a main office that provides the infrastructure for potential needs.”
Dealers can also can also help educate and train staff on new technologies, particularly those that enable automation for facility management and tenant access. As technology continues to evolve, dealers can be a tremendous resource for educating staff to get the most of our your access control solution as well as provide maintenance and troubleshooting tips on keeping your entire access control ecosystem operating optimally.
Choosing a dealer with extensive self storage experience and a proven track record can save considerable time and financial resources. Your security partnership should not only protect your facilities today, but also help you evolve to combat new threats while maintaining the level of security that tenants need. Your business depends on it.
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