Service Range for Security Integrators

By Brian Rhodes, Published Sep 02, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

"You go where the work is" - an old adage that certainly describes the competitive security integration business. But just how far are most installers willing to travel? We asked nearly 100 integrators, big, small, and from all areas of the globe to explain how they determine their installation boundaries. In this note we share those answers and analyse the results.

Key Answers

The question we posed read "How far will you travel to install a system? (i.e. what's your service range)" and left it up to answerers to define the answer in terms of distance or travel time. In analysing the detailed responses, several interesting themes emerged-

  • Most Installers limit themselves locally, or not at all: Surprisingly, 'territories' are either fairly close to home - within a day's travel- or fairly unrestricted. The integrators limiting themselves locally are typically located in area fairly dense with customers, while those that travel will go to wherever customer service is needed.
  • Installers travel, even for smaller systems: No strong reluctance to travel was apparent, even among installers who average a small number of installed cameras per job.
  • Profits dictate travel distance more than any other factor: The ability to make profit on a job is what constrains travel, not distance. Installers are willing to travel to other states, region, or even other countries... as long as the profits are favorable.

Small vs. Large Territories

Looking at the gross break down of responses, roughly half of installers define their service area is 'local', and the other half suggest 'national' or 'multi-national' boundaries, and that they will travel extensively if required.

Detailed Responses

Our installers represent a wide demographic, covering large 'national' integrators to small 'mom & pop' installers who collectively service a large sampling of the surveillance market from around the world. Within those collected responses, it became clear installers either limit themselves close to home, or otherwise do not limit travel for reasons other than profit:

National or International

Video surveillance installers are willing to travel great distances to perform work, and some do so on a routine basis:

  • "Worldwide. We have an excellent and a highly deployable work force for major international projects."
  • "Up to 2000 miles (we are a federal contractor and therefore will install nationwide)."
  • "We cover the whole country, Venezuela"
  • "We are based in Maryland and have clients in Puerto Rico, so we are good anywhere."
  • "We send technicians on long trips, for example war zones, oil platforms, or military facilities deep in the mountains."
  • "We install security systems for one of Swedens largest hardware retail store chain which means we go where they go. Also we bid on government procurements which could take us anywhere."
  • "A long way! We operate out of Kuwait but would happily install systems in Oman, Dubai Bahrain etc."
  • "Working for a national integrator, if it is a complicated system that requires support (i.e. specific VMS platform), will travel anywhere."

Local Only

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When installers limit themselves to local jobs, they suggest its because they do not need to travel far to find work. These installers were typically located in larger cities, small countries, or regions where large amounts of work can be found.

  • "I have enough business locally without hunting afar."
  • "The Las Vegas valley is relatively compact."
  • "I have a 150 mile radius, lots of suburbs around."
  • "1 hour. Our operation is focused within big locality."
  • "I service 40 mines within 35 KM of my offices."
  • "15 - 20 Kilometers. I live in a City and there in no reason to go further than that."
  • "1 hour Journey. My company is located in Singapore where our usual deployment is local. Singapore is a small country."
  • "Lithuania is small country, there are no directions you can travel more than 300 km."
  • "There's no need to travel more than 45 minutes or 1 hour. Many good government customers in this area."

System Size Not Important

Surprisingly, the average number of cameras installed per job did not significantly influence the decision. For example, in the group that install an average of "8 cameras or less per project" were these answers:

  • "We travel anywhere. Last year we did business in 42 states."
  • "Regional or national facilities that are willing to pay the extra travel expense, we will go anywhere. Including over seas"
  • "We have Partners across the US."
  • "Our best customer has many remote sites."
  • "If a customer has multiple locations we would go where they needed us."
  • "We have active clients in 25 states."

These answers show that many installers do not mind traveling far distances for small jobs. While they may not do so for only a few sites, if the customer's account represents a numerous locations, the total camera count per site are not an important constraint.

It All Comes Down To Money

Overwhelmingly, installers answers they will travel however far they need to make profits. When installers travel overnight, they expect the travel costs to be rolled into the service invoices. As long as customers are willing to pay those fees, integrators will travel however far they are asked to work projects.

  • "As far as we can remain profitable."
  • "100KM. Any further a customer isn't willing to pay the travel time."
  • "We have generally limited our service area to around 2 to 3 hours. It becomes costly for the end user to pay the travel expense associated with the down-time associated with the trip."
  • "If we are competitive when charging travel and accommodation costs then we will take on the business."
  • "150 miles for new customers, existing local customers that are willing to pay the per diems we go where ever."
  • "Also there are local clients who have other facilities in other states who were so happy with our work here, they wanted us to do the security for their other buildings. We are able to make good money and expand the relationship with the client."
  • "anywhere , any time , any trip as long as they are willing to pay overhead , travel , all expenses"
  • "Continental United States including Alaska. Why? We'll do anything if it's worth the money."
  • 150 miles seems to be the magic number. However, gas prices are rapidly shrinking it. Much over that it begins to be a real issue on ongoing support at a cost the customer can justify paying for."
  • "I will go anywhere as long as I can make money. My customers move so I must move with them."
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