Savvy business owners are continuously evaluating the market and exploring ways to grow their business. Security professionals understand their customers can turn to any number of places for locks and security technology. But through experience, they have also learned that providing value by solving their customers’ day-to-day problems and by anticipating issues before they arise, customers will view them as experienced experts and will continue to turn to them for answers.
In the course of these customer interactions, your ultimate goal is to position yourself as the expert – the professional who has the knowledge and experience to address all of your customers’ security challenges. One of the security challenges professionals often have to address revolve around attacking locks, more specifically the cylinder, attacks such as kicking, prying, drilling, picking, etc. High security cylinders help prevent these attacks.
Bringing awareness of the benefits of high security cylinders and key systems to your customers is a great way to rise above your competition and grow your business.
What is high security and how are cylinders certified?
When it comes to cylinders, the term “high security” is often thrown around incorrectly. So, exactly what qualifies a cylinder as high security?
High security cylinders have been tested to meet or surpass UL 437 standards and are thus proven to withstand many forms of physical attack, including eight methods of forced and direct entry that are defined within the standard. These include picking, impressioning, forcing, drilling, sawing, prying, pulling and driving. To pass, the cylinder must function as intended for 10,000 complete cycles of operation.
For example, Medeco 4 (M4) high security cylinders, which are UL 437 listed, are machined of solid brass and include strategically placed hardened-steel inserts to thwart drilling attacks. In addition to tumbler pins that lift and rotate, the M4 design includes four side pins: three finger pins and one lift pin, which must all interact with the sidebar to open, providing a high level of pick resistance.
In addition to the stringent UL 437 standard for high security cylinders, BHMA/ANSI also has a standard for high security cylinders (Standard A156.30-2003). This standard incorporates physical testing but also goes beyond to consider other factors, including the size of the master key system and key control policies, including how key blanks are distributed. If you and your customer are looking for the ultimate protection, choose a high security cylinder that is certified in both UL 437 and ANSI, such as Medeco 4.
How can selling high security cylinders and keys help grow your business?
High security mechanical cylinders and keys are a premium product. Naturally, premium products generate higher revenues and margins than standard products. Therefore, the more frequently you close the high security sale, the more revenue and higher margins you can expect.
With high security cylinders, the keys often carry a utility patent. With utility patents and agreements in place, you are the only locksmith designated to furnish replacement keys. This is highly profitable business, and the more high security cylinders and keys you sell, the more recurring revenue you generate. This creates customer loyalty, which often leads to other security and hardware opportunities outside of the key system.
Three High Security Sales Strategies
Now that you see the impact high security can have on the ability to grow your business, here are three simple strategies to get started on weaving high security into the fabric of your business.
1. A proven strategy to close high-margin, high-security sales requires resources you already have access to – your dispatcher and field technicians. Locksmiths report that a majority of their business (up to 70%) materializes when local customers pick up the phone and call them directly. This is why the dispatcher plays such a critical role.
Weaving high security into your business starts with teaching your dispatcher to plant the seeds for upgrades. The dispatcher fields the call, collects the customer’s details and hands the assignment off to a technician. It is during this initial interaction with the customer that the dispatcher can understand the customer’s true problem and then harness their expertise to make an appropriate recommendation. The dispatcher then communicates the details and upgrade opportunity with the technician. During the onsite visit the security technician then follows up with the dispatcher’s recommendation, re-emphasizing the benefits of the upgrade and the resolution of the actual problem. Often the conversation goes like this:
Technician: Do you distribute keys to your associates or other individuals?
Technician: Do you mind if these people make copies of your keys without your permission?
Customer: Um, yes! What do you mean?
Technician: Well did you know that your current key system is not patented, meaning anyone can duplicate your keys without your permission? With a patented high security key system, only the authorized customer and only through an authorized locksmith can additional copies of your keys be made.
These two questions and this unified approach between your dispatcher and technician often yields a 70-80 percent sales conversion success rate. Consider the math here. How much would just one high security sale per technician per week grow your top and bottom line?
2. While electronic access control (EAC) systems are widely used and highly effective, the disturbing fact is that customers invest thousands of dollars in these high-tech systems only to back them up with a generic mechanical cylinder as the override. As you know, the override is used in the event of an emergency or when the electronics are inoperable. Using the override negates scheduling, access rights, etc. That’s why it’s extremely vulnerable. Unfortunately, this standard, low-security cylinder can be easily defeated or bypassed. That’s why it’s important to replace lower security cylinders in these EAC applications with a higher-level security cylinder.
3. Often, the customer does not have the budget to immediately upgrade all of their openings to high security cylinders and keys. And let’s face it, not every opening needs a high security cylinder.
Instead of an all-or-nothing approach, Medeco 4 offers a companion technology called BiLevel. BiLevel does not carry the UL or ANSI certifications, does not offer the same level of physical or surreptitious attack resistance, but also does not carry the high security price tag. However, BiLevel does use the same patent-protected key as Medeco 4. This allows you, the security professional, to customize and develop a hybrid key system addressing your customers’ high security, key control, and budgetary needs.
For example, perimeter doors and entryways as well as other critical areas within the building can use a high security cylinder. While less-critical openings such as conference rooms and supply closets can use BiLevel cylinders at a fraction of the cost while maintaining a unified key system.
Maintaining Key System Integrity
Along with the benefits of selling high security cylinders and keys, you can bring your customers long-term value and help them get the most of their key system investment through additional key control tools.
There’s no doubt that the cost of rekeying locks is significant, but, if a key is misplaced, all the assets and spaces that key protects become vulnerable. This is a great opportunity to make a recommendation for other tools such as a secure storage cabinet for keys and key blanks, and software to help keep the customer’s key system records organized and maintained.
Medeco’s Intelligent Key Cabinet (IKC) is an electronically controlled steel cabinet that is used to store and track both mechanical and Intelligent Keys. Individuals can only access keys in the cabinet using a PIN, biometric fingerprint, or prox card. The best part is that the IKC records when keys were taken, by whom and when they were returned, so a comprehensive audit trail is always available.
Keeping track of keys can be a daunting responsibility – especially when done manually. Today’s advanced key management software solutions, such as SimpleK, provide a paperless, scalable method to manage key systems of all sizes from all key manufacturers. The software allows you to import maps and floor plans so, at any point in time, you understand who has access to a given door. It enables you to manage key requests, approvals, issuances, and returns directly within the software. Users can also harness it to itemize hardware on each door opening and map associated keys to doors, output detailed reports, schedule reminders, and issue emails to key holders automatically.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what a high security cylinder is and what that means. You’ve learned how high security cylinders can grow your business, and we’ve highlighted three strategies for doing more high security in your business.
If you would like to know how Medeco or high security can help you and your business, please visit www.Medeco.com/grow to have a business development representative get in touch with you.
Dale L. Bowman, CML, CPP, PSP, PCI, LEED BD+C, is Medeco’s director of business development, OEM and international sales.