Choose The Correct Access Control System For The Job

Nov. 1, 2017
Stick with standard products to the greatest extent possible, but still offer a custom solution when required

Providing security solutions for clients is especially challenging for a small shop because you will be required to wear many hats in order to successfully complete the project.

In a small shop you may be required to

  • Make the initial contact with the client (take the phone call or beat the bushes)
  • Perform the interview and site survey to determine what the client wants versus what the client needs
  • Develop solutions that will meet the client’s requirements
  • Price out the parts and labor
  • Make the presentation to the client
  • Procure the materials
  • Orchestrate and execute the installation
  • Configure the system to operate correctly
  • Train the end-users to program and use the system.

For many customers, procuring something as complex as an access control system is their first encounter with electronic security, so even if you are an old hand at it, you must realize that:

  • Access control is not something people welcome, but rather may resent as another reminder that big brother is watching them, and it will add to their daily inconveniences
  • A lot of the technology is totally new and alien to them, they may have been delegated to the job of acquiring the system and therefore they are being closely watched by their management team.
  • They may be operating under misinformation, old news, hearsay, and marketing they’ve seen in papers and online
  • They are anticipating the installation will be disruptive and cause inconveniences and create havoc.
  • The system is going to cost them plenty.

If you come from a background in sales, you may have developed certain skills and perhaps habits. I’ve worked with many sales professionals who have migrated into the security industry from other markets, and some of their behaviors astonished me.

They were salesmen; you could spot them the minute they came through the door with their polished appearance and practiced presentations. Last week they might have been selling used cars or aluminum siding, but this week it is security systems.

Although there are commonalities in upper level sales administration positions where direct product knowledge may be not a requisite to orchestrating a marketing campaign or lead the sales department, as an infantryman in the sales force, my angle of attack was markedly different.

Some sales people work out of a price book, and if the client asks for something that is not listed, they put the client on hold and call their supervisor. Sometimes these “order takers” will pretend to know what they are doing and that’s when things can go very wrong, very quickly.

Other sales people make every project a custom “one of a kind” technological wonder where no one is happy, and the experience is charged off to the “cost of doing business.”

Obviously the idea is to stick with standard products to the greatest extent possible, but still provide a custom solution when required.

My own experiences have taught me that if the client is asking for something too exotic, it’s probably a bad idea and it won’t work.

Bear in mind that your concept of “exotic” is in inverse proportion to your product knowledge. If you have only limited product knowledge you will think anything is exotic. If you are highly experienced, it will frequently be one of those “Been There Done That” moments.

Successful locksmiths will generally be versatile and adept at wearing many hats and will keep the following recommendations in mind:

1. Listen to the customer’s request.

You are there to serve your client’s needs and you must listen to your client articulate their concept of what they need as a starting point. Sometimes the client will base what they think they need on what they perceive as their problem. It’s your job to cut through the clutter and cut to the bottom line.

Poor salesmen are oriented towards pushing a particular product because they are one trick ponies or they have too many in their inventory and they want to unload. They wait for the customer to finish, then they go into their routine which has little to do with what the client needs and all to do with what the salesman wants them to buy. Locksmiths focus on solutions that will meet their customers’ expectations and pay off with a long-term relationship.

2. Consider present needs and future expansion.

Try to avoid selling products which have planned obsolescence as an important product feature. While in some instances a non-scalable access control system may represent the smallest initial investment, the bad news will come when they client calls you back to add doors and you have to tell him he cannot build upon what you sold him last year. A good sales engineer can provide the information the client needs to make a smart buying decision with “front loading” the proposal.

3. Building construction and specific application requirements dictate product mix.

Last month we wrote about the three access control infrastructures: wired, wireless and hybrid. What you specify for your projects will be determined by the building it is going to be installed in, and the specific requirements for the client and the site. Thanks to the large variety of solutions available to the locksmith, you should be able to optimize your selection of system elements to arrive at an ideal solution for your customer.

4. Plan your time.

If you are a small shop, you may need to factor in your most scarce commodity, your time. You cannot be in two places at once, and when you get involved in an installation, you may encounter scheduling issues if emergency service calls come in. Is there a solution? Well maybe you can sub out some of the installation chores so you can manage the installation while still be free to roll on an emergency service call. Or you can delegate to another employee.

When I was a consultant and was working alone, I still had the need to sell projects, and encountered the situation where I had all my tools on the job, and was on a ladder when an important client would call with an urgent need.

Service calls may be your bread and butter, and they are very profitable, so think over how you will undergo mitosis and become two, one for your installations and one for your installations.

In my world, once I removed a lock from a door, I could not leave until something else was installed to take its place. With proper planning you may be able to accomplish the installation quickly and efficiently by confirming the installation site is ready to accept the new equipment, and perhaps obtain the programming requirements from the client and have the lock all dressed up and ready to go as soon as you get it on the door.

Maybe this would be a good time to see if your wife or kids are good with a holesaw. One of my daughters was, and she brags about her achievements with me to this day.

Securitech Exit Trim

Securitech has a reputation for in-depth tech support, using many different resources to assist dealers in assessing a site for new installation, troubleshooting and support during an installation and during the life of the product on a door.

Telephone support at 718.392.9000 is provided from 8am-6pm Eastern time, with an emergency lifeline phone number provided for after hours. Securitech uses emailing, texting, facetime and other real time options to assist technicians in the field.

Securitech locking mechanisms are durable in that the solenoid is protected in the trim and not the strike, vandal-resistant with Securitech’s slip clutch lever and easy to install because their products work with mortise locks, cylindrical locks and exit devices and include signaling features (REX, DPS, LPS) all integrated within the same device. Securitech even offers Bluetooth capabilities. 

LEXI™ retrofits all major lock manufacturers for a universal access control solution. Securitron’s locks are compatible whether it’s retrofit or new construction. Securitech’s Control Trim product line offers better code compliance by not chopping up frames for strikes.


ASSA ABLOY installation instructions available on the BILT Application for Apple and Android devices are designed for those persons  selling, installing and troubleshooting locks. Through BILT, ASSA ABLOY provides interactive 3D models and step-by-step instructions to make installations easier, ensure products are installed properly, and store warranties for future reference.

The instructions are fully-interactive, voice narrated guides that simplify installation and shorten the time it takes to accomplish the job. They remove the guess-work when attempting to interpret paper instructions.

ASSA ABLOY product installation instructions available on the BILT app include:

Corbin Russwin IN120 WiFi locks and exit devices,

SARGENT IN120 WiFi locks and exit devices,

Norton 5800 ADAEZ,

HES 1500/1600

Yale Assure Lock™ and Yale nexTouch™

Schlage® Control™, LE and NDE

As technology has evolved in the security industry, priorities have shifted. The original purpose of a lock was to guarantee security. Today, users are looking for secure devices that also deliver convenience and efficiency. Wireless solutions are designed to meet these demands.

Schlage wireless locks are designed to strike a balance between convenience, efficiency and security — for locksmiths as well as their customers. These locks make upgrading interior, mechanical doors to include electronic access control easier and more appealing than ever before. They simplify installation by combining the lock, credential reader, door position sensor, request-to-exit switch and power all in one unit — taking only an average of one to two hours to install. The more doors online, the more service contract opportunities and potential revenue. And with every wireless electronic lock purchase, there is the need for credentials.

Schlage NDE

  • Refined design for doors with cylindrical prep
  • Installs in minutes with only a Phillips screwdriver
  • Ideal for offices, classrooms, and shared storage spaces
  • Compatible with proximity or smart credentials

Schlage LE

  • Elegant design for doors with mortise prep
  • Choose Greenwich or Addison trim
  • Options include interior pushbutton for office, privacy, or apartment applications
  • For greater security, choose mortise deadbolt

Schlage Control™ Smart Deadbolt

  • For residence entry applications
  • Options include smart deadbolt and interconnected smart lock for single-motion egress.
  • Compatible with smart credentials
About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.