An Overview of Intercoms & Telephone Entry Systems

Since many of these products are available over the Internet as do-it-yourself projects, the locksmith’s challenge is to convince your customers that you specialize, customize and assemble the exact components into a system that meets their needs at a...


Since most security professionals already install electric strikes, keypads, card readers, electro-magnetic locks and electrified door hardware, why not add intercoms and telephone entry systems to your list? Communication to a customer’s door or gate is needed to maintain a secure...


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WIRELESS SYSTEMS
The basic stand-alone wireless intercom system is intended for residential and small commercial applications. It includes a wireless master or base station and a remote or door station.

Pressing the doorbell button on the door station alerts the person someone is at the door. The person answers from the base station and communicates verbally with them.

By pressing a release button on the master station, a signal is sent to the electric strike or electrified lock to unlock the door and allow entry.

In this simplest form, the components include an electric strike or electrified lock, door station, base station, power supply and wiring.

Pros: Not running wiring to all component locations, simple to install, limited maintenance requirements, one-man installation, easy to sell by focusing on reduced labor costs. Stand-alone battery-operated locks can be used and released with a wireless remote.

Cons: More expensive than hard-wired units, wireless operating range is sometimes limited to line-of-sight run length. Although communication is wireless (wiring is eliminated between the base and master stations), a wire run from a local power supply may be needed for an electric strike or electrified lock application.

INTEGRATED TELEPHONE ENTRY SYSTEMS
The telephone entry intercom system is used to allow entry through a door or doors in a single or multi-family residential environment or office building.

Components usually consist of a master panel in the entry or at the gate. The resident is alerted someone is at the door or gate when the telephone receiver is used to dial the business or homeowner (or by pressing the doorbell button marked with a name). The person answers from their regular telephone and communicates verbally with them. By pressing a specific button on the phone, a signal is sent to the electric strike or electrified lock to unlock the door and allow entry.

Other components include an electric strike, electrified lock or electrified gate opener, power supply and related wiring. In many applications the existing telephone system communicates with the master panel for an audio installation.

If the master panel at the door/gate station includes a video camera, the existing telephone system is used for audio. The cable television system is used for video in more elaborate systems while the individual unit base station with a video monitor, PTZ controls and handset (similar to the stand-alone type) is used in other systems.

Pros: Systems offered in various sizes to fit different applications. From a small system with six or eight apartments to a large building with hundreds of occupants, the components are available. Mostly plug and play, maintenance free, one or two man installation, selling added features and benefits specific to multi-family units.

Cons: More expensive than stand-alone systems. If video option is utilized, lighting must be sufficient to accommodate day and nighttime use or camera lens must be capable of adjusting to low light conditions for optimum performance. In gate applications, an additional camera for vehicle observation may be required. Considerable labor is required to run power, video and communication wiring to all component locations. Depending on the telephone and cable/TV systems involved, additional interface equipment or technical installation support from that company’s technician may be required at additional cost to your charges.

MAKING MONEY
How can you make a profit by offering and selling these items? Educate yourself on these products and understand your customer’s wants and needs. You wouldn’t undersell by recommending a $2 laminated padlock to secure a hockey-puck hasp on a truck full of expensive tools. Nor would you oversell by installing a Grade 1 Heavy-Duty patented high-security deadbolt on a plywood suggestion box.

Intercom and entry systems usually allow entry through a pedestrian door but can be installed to open a motorized gate or garage door.

Start your education by checking with your favorite locksmith distributor. Most distributors carry two or more brands of intercom and entry systems and are familiar with these components. Visit their will-call counter and ask to see and handle some of the product or get your hands on some mounted samples in their display area.

Go to your next locksmith association meeting and see what your colleagues can tell you. Share with them your likes and dislikes of a specific product and find out what brand they like to sell.

Go online to communicate with other locksmiths through online chat rooms and share your thoughts, experiences and ideas that way.

Try ordering a basic system and installing it in your home or shop. Use it as a ‘Try Me’ sample on your counter or use it control access into your shop. That will get your customers to play with it.

MARKETING
Once you are ready, educate your customers by including a small brochure (free from manufacturers and distributors) or a personalized flyer when you mail statements out at the end of the month.

Also, hand out a ‘Did You Know’ flyer with each job explaining all of the services you offer. I’ll guarantee there are regular customers of yours who don’t know most of the services you have to offer. In other words, if you don’t promote it to your customers, don’t expect them to call and request it from you. If you don’t tell them how great you are, who will?      

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