Staying Competitive in the Kingdom of Accountability

Feb. 2, 2012

If you haven’t heard it, you must have been asleep for the last 10 years.  The word of the decade among the industry is “accountability.”  Around the globe, more and more facilities are placing greater emphasis on security professionals (independent and institutional) to take ownership of the security solutions they implement, and to be fully prepared to respond and answer to their constituents in the event of a breach.  

Security managers must be held accountable for the success of a security solution in protecting their facility.  But, just as importantly, the idea of accountability should carry weight with the locksmith profession in terms of how locksmiths are, and should be, held accountable to their customers. 

To remain credible and competitive, locksmiths today should embrace the fact that they are responsible not only for the effectiveness of the systems they recommend, but also for how those systems can help their customers maintain accountability on their end.

Despite the varied and quick-to-change security needs among different facility types, the one constant is the demand for accountability. 

Today’s customers are looking for products that offer everything from basic protection to full audit and scheduling. If you don’t have a full suite of products to address these needs, you could be held accountable by your customers for missed opportunities, lose credibility and ultimately put your business in trouble.

Being accountable to your customers, in order to help them be accountable to theirs, means staying on top of the latest trends in security technology and understanding how advances can be implemented cost-effectively for the greatest impact.  For example, a fast-growing market is that of electronic access control but for many facility and security managers, the barrier to incorporating the benefits of this technology (accountability, audit trails, scheduling to prevent loss and liability, patented key control etc.) comes down to price.  The locksmith who is prepared to offer a solution that addresses this issue, such as Medeco’s  M3 Logic that fits in with existing mechanical systems, will establish credibility for their appreciation for the customer’s need to be accountable and keep costs low.

Locksmiths play a critical role in helping their customers to be vigilant against any security breach by being knowledgeable and recommending security systems that allow for uncomplicated, rapid system changes. Beyond being knowledgeable about the latest technologies and products that will help customers meet the accountability demand, the locksmith profession is still challenged to be accountable in other ways:

Know that customers come to you for your expertise. Locksmiths who stay focused on the products that differentiate them and add value and security to their customers will be well-served. While supercenters may have more buying power, price pressure has relegated this channel to commodity products.  It’s important to remember that your customers know exactly where their local supercenter is… but choose to see a locksmith instead, often for huge differentiators such as the ability to offer products with patented key control to prevent unauthorized duplication of keys which, of course ties back into the ultimate goal of accountability.

What’s more, locksmiths can leverage their own expertise to help customers ensure critical buy-in from corporate managers and operators who are important cogs in the wheel when it comes to making big security decisions.  An experienced, knowledgeable locksmith who is familiar with system nuances and new product technology can become a critical partner during the implementation process and help to justify large investment decisions.

Invest in Technicians – they are your critical front line. As technology and needs change, it has never been more critical to invest in the education of your technicians to increase their comfort with new technologies in order for them to feel comfortable recommending these solutions to customers.

Particularly within facilities with strictly secure areas such as airports and government buildings, and highly trafficked facilities like hospitals and universities, managers are increasingly held accountable for who has access and when.  Amid the numerous Federal regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley, FERC, NERC, and HIPAA that have placed tighter restrictions upon businesses in the last decade, those in the locksmith profession must be diligent in identifying solutions to help their customers stay complaint and accountable. 

With locksmith technicians being in front of customers most of the time, it makes them the best avenue to see opportunities and inform customers of better approaches. Locksmiths and locksmith technicians who can equip their clients with a system that not only promotes accountability through access control, but that can accommodate any security challenge as it arises in an efficient, cost-effective manner will become a valued long-term partner and boost their credibility (not to mention the bottom line).

Today’s physical security market is fraught with challenges and changes, but also opportunity.  More so than ever, the expectation of accountability rules over everything else. But, the locksmith who embraces this new world by recognizing this new demand, upholding a responsibility to his or her customers, investing in education, leveraging expertise will be well served.

Joseph Kingma is the Director of Marketing and eCylinder Business Development for Medeco.