While the lead article in this issue is “Know Your Distributor,” it’s also important that locksmiths and facility managers “Know Your Manufacturer.” Together, your distributor and manufacturer can make you more efficient, productive and, for you entrepreneurs, more successful. When determining the manufacturer(s) with whom you want to partner, here are some questions you should consider and items to think about.
Software Compatibility: Does the hardware manufacturer provide detailed information on which software works with its electrified locks, readers and other door hardware that you sell or use? In addition, since there is always a difference between head end systems, does your manufacturer provide information about what additional equipment is needed for each? What about wiring diagrams? Technology is always changing and you must have information readily available from manufacturers to stay current.
Support Materials: You cannot have enough support material, especially when you are 60 miles from your shop and need an instruction manual. You want to be able to grab this information off the Internet or an app so you can download it to your smart phone. Better yet, are there videos? Can you refer your customer to cut sheets of what you are selling them? How about datasheets, users’ guides, templates, and service and support contacts? Make sure your manufacturers provide you with easy-to-access support material.
Custom Solutions: What do you do if the doors are abnormally high or wide and you need a custom solution? Your manufacturer likely has had hundreds of requests over the years and, in many cases, they already have the templates for making that special product you need. That custom job may not be so custom after all.
Unique Applications & Environments: You really shouldn’t install the same model of a product throughout a facility. After all, the door hardware that’s used in one place in the facility may not be appropriate for others. Does your manufacturer help you determine which products are best for specific applications? Do they provide options and suggested solutions for specific facility issues? For example, libraries, some classrooms, and surgery suites would benefit from whisper-quiet latches on exit devices while the computer room needs a higher security model. On the Florida coast, you need hardware that can stand up to high winds and meet local building codes. Each door needs to be fitted in accordance with what goes on at that access point. Manufacturers should help you by providing application specific information.
Industry Knowledge: It’s very different selling or servicing a school versus a hospital or office building. Does your manufacturer have market specialists that can help you get the order? Can they provide you with case histories to share with your customers? What about training, seminars and webinars? Is your manufacturer helping you be more successful in your business with these types of services? Does the manufacturer have specification writers that work on new construction projects to provide customers with the right products that meet industry codes?
Performance: Does the manufacturer provide solid warranties? Are their products readily available through distribution? What do other locksmiths and facility managers think about them? Make sure you understand the manufacturer’s reputation as their performance both short and long term is a reflection on you.
Cindy English Mitchell is Director-Marketing Services, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies
Hardware consultants are well-versed on local and national building codes, the unique needs of various types of facilities, and access control and egress requirements