There are hundreds of security installation companies spread across the UK all trying to do exactly the same thing in terms of satisfying the needs of their customers. Some are large nationals, others are local installers while several are what we sometimes refer to as ‘One Man and A Van’. The latter is likely to be the engineer who wants to start building his own company. Indeed, as Johan Gerber explains, there are many such start-up companies who are now reputable security installation firms in their own right.
Who do security installation companies sell to? In short, the end user. If you’re the managing director of, for example, a logistics company operating one or more warehouses then you might want to install a security system designed to cover your premises.
What systems to select and how many systems you will need to protect your premises are normally two of the questions asked. As you’ll no doubt appreciate, there are a number of solutions on offer for today’s end users.
First, the law states that you need to have a fire protection system in place. Then you might want a minimum of an intruder alarm system and you may wish that solution to be monitored at an approved Alarm Receiving Centre while also benefiting from police response.
You may need a security officer to man the busy gate or a team of security officers to conduct nightly site patrols. A suggestion could be made for a CCTV system to help the security officers identify any possible intrusions.
The managing director might well insist on an access control system. Each staff member is then given a fob or a card to enter and leave the building or certain parts of the building.
Selecting product: how is it done?
Which products to select, then? Let’s take CCTV as an example. Usually, a company will have a relationship with a manufacturer(s) or a distributor(s). Together with a business development manager, the installation company will select the right product(s) for that specific project.
For a number of years now, the CCTV sector has migrated towards IP-based surveillance solutions. However, there are still many companies with analogue systems installed who are only now beginning that migration process.
Once the business development manager and the distributor have selected the appropriate system, the former will start building a proposal for the project. They will need to liaise with the engineer as to the length of installation time it will take to install and commission a certain number of cameras.
What does a successful installation company need? Usually, there’s the aforementioned business development manager and an engineer. Some might prefer to use sub-contractors if they are not large enough or cannot guarantee a regular income for an engineer. Other companies have many engineers on the books who will be deployed in various capacities. They can range from maintenance engineers who concentrate solely on call-outs and doing regular annual preventative maintenance visits through to those who are employed only to install, for example, fire systems or CCTV.
Both engineers and business development managers are very reliant on a strong administrative team who order the equipment on time for projects to start.
Larger companies will have a project manager in place who could look after a number of projects simultaneously or, if the company is sufficiently large and a project is so big, you could have a project manager for one project.
Designing the security system
The design of a security system should – or could – be left to a specialist who will assume overall responsibility for the design of a project. He/she would need all the necessary information at hand to be able to design a system. That detail would be supplied by the business development manager.
Once a system is designed and a proposal is put in place, the business development manager will then present it to the client for approval. The client might look for three quotations or, if the business development manager did a fantastic job in selling him or herself and their company’s ability to design, install and maintain a system, then the end user client might only look for that one proposal.
The proposal should include the product selected, the location of equipment, the cost of the supply and installation of the system and a cost to maintain the system.
Once a Purchase Order is received from a customer, the installation team will start putting the project together. This will include liaising with the client around when the engineers will start and complete the installation, ordering the equipment from a distributor and giving the engineer a full description of the installation required.
After the successful commissioning of the system, the client will sign off on the project and the installation company will send the client an invoice.
Is that how the process works for you as an end user?
Johan Gerber is Business Development Manager at Unipart Security Solutions