How To Conduct An Effective Site Survey

Although much business is now conducted by means of email and telephone, there really is no substitute for the on-site security survey, a/k/a the walkthrough.

The walkthrough requires an investment of your time, so you must decide if the potential for a sale is high enough to justify this expense, and sometimes you simply may not have the time. Generally, an in-person presentation is far more effective than a telephone call, email or letter. Also your being on-site indicates to your customer that you share their sense of urgency. Typically, security is a time sensitive matter.

Properly screening the client’s call-in is important so that you can make a positive first impression. The initial phone call is the best way to determine such key facts as:

Is the caller is an existing account?

Is the client is making a casual enquiry or intend to schedule an installation promptly?

Is the client seeking something you can provide?

Is the client within your service area?

Answers can be determined quickly if you the right employee handling the phones. Otherwise, you may be burning gas and daylight responding to improperly screened calls, or missing jobs because the call is dropped or incorrect information was obtained.

If you advertise and market your business, you can calculate how much it actually costs you to make that phone ring. Then you can calculate how many calls result in a sale; and how much you actually netting per call. Hint: this should be a positive number.

Mishandling the phones is an excellent way to throw away money and shut the door to future business.

In my own experiences I’ve had clients ask me for my cell number because they refuse to call the shop’s landline and have to suffer through the gauntlet of dummies they have to navigate only to ultimately not get a response anyway.

My customers hate inefficiency and they crave accountability and will wait for me to respond, since they trust me and know I will get back to them. When I do respond, I will have answers. Many readers share similar relationships with their valued customers. The value should be a two-way proposition.

After some initial screening, in-person site visits are valuable for several reasons:

You are best able to assess the area in which the site is located. A risk assessment will reflect how close the site is to roads, whether the site is fenced, gated, how well lit it is, and the general demographics of the neighborhood. If the premises is on a heavily trafficked street, there may be a threat to children or patients leaving the facility, and there exists a real danger of someone getting run over or wandering off.

When conducting a site survey, keep in mind the purposes of the systems you are there to recommend:

  • To provide Security, generally construed to refer to preventing unauthorized access, and
  • To ensure Safety (Life Safety), generally construed to refer to ensuring free egress from the premises in an emergency situation.

Movement within sensitive areas within the facility or through perimeter doors may need to be controlled. It may be a computer room, or pharmacy. It could be a door to a hospital ward.

The addition of electronic locking devices and control systems will provide other benefits to the client.

Electronic systems are reliable. Many carry five-year or lifetime warranties. Few mechanical locks offer that kind of warranty.

Electronic locking systems permit remote and automated locking and unlocking as well as remote monitoring of the opening and the locking device. These features are not available with mechanical locks.

To make the most productive use of your time, it usually is beneficial to have an established procedure. If you are answering the phone or performing a survey, consider having a script, form or worksheet so you can begin the process by getting the customer’s name phone number and physical address. That’s the minimum you require to move the ball down the field.

Checklist

If you’ve managed to get onto the site, you may be faced with distractions so once again a form or script might be helpful. Confirm the initial information taken over the phone, then build upon that. While you are there it only makes sense for you to take copious notes, and take the opportunity to ask questions and offer suggestions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Locate all doors or areas to be secured.

Obtain floor plans if they are available. One time a client said he didn’t have a floor plan, so I took an evacuation plan posted next to a stairwell door and made a copy of it. (Sometimes a floor plan is not available because the client performed renovations without obtaining permits.)

  • Ask about the key control. When was the last time the locks were recombinated? Is the customer using controlled key systems? Unless they are using controlled keyways, it is impossible to be certain that no unauthorized duplicate keys were made or distributed.
  • Check each door, frame and hardware for proper operation and handing.
  • Is the door labeled? (See the other article in this issue which discusses Fire Door Inspections)
  • Note the type of surrounding walls and ceilings, in case you have to pull wire.
  • Measure each door (i.e., mounting surface and width of door(s) for possible door hardware upgrades)
  • Find out if the client any existing maintenance contracts, monitoring contracts or warranties on equipment or systems. You might want to help but the client may already be tied up in red tape you will unable to cut through - not fair game for you.
  • Check for existing equipment such as:

– Access controls

– Life Safety systems/ exit hardware

– Security systems

– Video surveillance cameras and DVR/NVRs

– Fire alarms and sprinkler systems, and the location of the Fire Alarm Control Panel

– The presence, condition and operating condition of Door Closers

– The presence, condition and operating condition of Power Door Operators

Below is some detailed product information on devices often recommended during a site survey, particularly for institutional and healthcare clients.

Arrow Low Energy Door Operators

Ideal for retrofit applications, the Arrow 7700 Series converts interior, non-fire rated doors for ADA compliance easily and affordably while providing a simple way to achieve touchless environments in public restrooms. Furnished standard with a track assembly, the pull-side mounted unit can be operated manually or activated by wall switches, or radio frequency devices.

Easy to install, set-up and adjust, the 7700 Series is ideal for ADA-compliant offices, classrooms and dorm rooms, and touch free applications like public restrooms, labs and examination rooms. The 7700 has a one-year warranty.

Arrow 7800 & 7900 Series Powered Door Operators are low-energy operators which function as standard spring-force closers during close cycles when a door is opened manually, or if power is lost or turned off. Both the 7800 and the 7900 Series are UL and cUL listed for use on fire doors.

The 7800 hardwired door operator is ideal for doctors’ offices, retirement facilities, schools, churches, and other applications where noise may be a concern. The 7900 Series builds off the platform of the 7800 but is supplied with a plug-in power cord. Both have a 2-year warranty

All models are available in both Aluminum(689), Specify AL & Dark Bronze (690), Specify DB.

“We are constantly looking to find upgrade opportunities and add on products that dealers can expand their business with. When we learned that a lot of our dealers were not in this business at all, we came out with the 7800 and developed training around it to educate dealers on the additional opportunities they could achieve by adding door operators to their portfolio,” said Brad Smith, marketing director for Medeco and Arrow.

Arrow 7700 Series features include:

  • Pull side mounting
  • Non-handed
  • Quiet operation

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