Why Integrators Get Firedby Brian Rhodes, IPVM posted on Jul 15, 2012
While many integrators like to think of themselves as irreplaceable to their customers, new IPVM end user survey results show this is not the case. What circumstances prompt an end user to finally say "enough is enough!" and run off an integrator? In this note, we examine the top 3 reasons.
3 Key Reasons
Responses from around the world shared consistent reasons indicating end users share similar problems. The most common reasons end users provided for firing Integrators are:
- Poor Service: Fired integrators simply do not show up in a timely fashion, do not communicate their plans, and are not dependable
- Lack of Knowledge: Fired integrators do not understand how to install, maintain, or service the systems they are selling
- Too Expensive/Lack Value: The end user does not perceive the integrator provides enough value as a service provider to justify their invoices
Poor service was the most common cause for getting fired by a clear margin:
- "Poor service. Pricing did not influence our decision."
- "We replaced our integrator a few years ago because of very poor communication and response times. We were frequently having difficulties reaching anyone with the company, and it could take several days to get a technician on site for work to be done."
- "We follow strict project management policies and procedures. Many integrators are not accustomed to generating detailed project plans and adhering to them."
- "This subject I could write a book about. Performance is always the reason, or lack of it."
- "horrible customer service"
- "We are in the process of parting ways with an integrator at this time. We have found them to be less than dependable especially when it comes to time sensitive issues. They have recently lost the sales person that serviced us. This was a very knowledgable person and made some of their other shortcomings bearable, but without him, it is not worth the hassle. We are striving to become more self sufficient in both access control and surveillance."
- "We used to work with a Lenel integrator that also began our installation of IP cameras. They became very slow to respond, often forgot to show up or order parts, and would drop off work order forms for me to sign when I didn't even know what they accomplished. I tried several times in talking with managers to improve the relationship, but it ended up seeming that they didn't care that we just spent 200K with them, or that they are incredibly unorganized and can't write anything down. Therefore, we replaced them with someone else."
- "Poor performance on their part. Even after having a "camera down" clause that stipulated we would be refunded the recurring cost of a non-functioning camera for each day it was down past five days written into our contract we still had instances where a camera would be down for weeks at a time. It was ridiculous."
- "Service was the major issue that ended up causing the integrator to be replaced. The secondary issue was the expertise of the technicians assigned to service my account. Their lack of expertise directly affected the level of service they could provide."
Fortunately for integrators, solving this problem does not require an MBA or business coach. It does require emphasizing the basics of service throughout an organization. Integrators should adjust operations based on the goals of clear, concise communication, prompt customer followup, and being mindful that 'customer problems' are also 'my problems' no matter how insignificant they appear.
Lack of Knowledge
This common complaint is amplified as systems become more advanced. Integrators continuously need to learn new technology and must keep pace with customer's requests for changes. When the field staff, designers, and installer do not stay current, it leads to problems:
- "Expertise level did not turn out to be what was expected."
- "Unable to support the products they installed."
- "Incompetence, lack of knowledge."
- "When we made the leap from analog to IP, the existing integrator wasn't ready to move with us. Despite an RFP detailing the need to provide an IP solution, they stuck with analog DVRs so they didn't even make it into the final bid process."
- "They did not listen to our concerns and after sending us the same service technician to repair the same problem 3 months in a row I brought in another integrator and they fixed the problem in one visit, I had paid over $5000 in service fees (Off Maintenance agreement they said). Turns out that after all of that it was a .25 cent battery on the subpanels that was causing the problem. I would like to think that they did not rip us off and that the service tech was just ignorant of the system and lacking training. But either way it is bad business and I fired the integrator."
- "Competency in the IP camera space"
- "Their lack of expertise directly affected the level of service they could provide."
Because integrators are forced to reconcile vast amounts of manufacturer-specific training and information, understanding the equipment and systems involved require a deep commitment. However, this result clearly expresses that integrators who chose to avoid this reality pay a big price.
Too Expensive/Lack Value
The last theme was less clearly stated and often accompanied some other complaint. However, a clear rationale in firing integrators was they simply are too costly for the value they bring to the table:
- "Reason one: Cost, Reason Two: Effectiveness:, Reason Three: Efficiencies"
- "The integrator provided no value, could not answer questions, and only obscured communication between us and the manufacturer."
- "When I was promoted to the department manager, I learned very quickly that the integrator that we had been using did not have our best interest at heart. His business practices were bordering on dishonest. An example of this was that we were being severely overcharged per diem."
- "We had a very good partnership with a large integrator. The integrator lost interest in us when we were not spending money on new systems every year. The Service level from the integrator and the people they sent over to us kept degrading."
- "Primary reasons are lack of documentation and *total* cost."
- "Too many integrators sell equipment that is not needed."
- "Unwilling to extend vendor discounts offered to us."
- "System failed and integrator refused to send anyone out until we resolved a MINOR billing problem."
Integrators focused on providing strong service with high competence would have less difficulty justifying their billing rates. In this case, even when an integrator is not 'the cheapest' provider, if the prove to be the 'most valued' customers are willing to pay. However, integrators who view service calls as an expense and who are inefficient when servicing systems due to lack of training often find themselves labeled as 'too expensive' and ready to be fired.
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