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March 22, 2018

Upgrading Your Security Equipment? Read This First

By John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member

I have spent more than 20 years attending trade shows, meeting with security products vendors and sitting through long sales presentations to research and understand the ever-changing world of surveillance technology. Two valuable lessons have been learned along the way. First, I needed to conduct research on new equipment myself and not rely solely on a salesperson’s pitch. Second, before making high-end purchases I began asking for referrals from customers who had purchased similar products and to schedule time with them to see an on-site demonstration and get their post-purchase feedback.

When making large investments — and your security system will almost always require a large investment — you learn very quickly to avoid mistakes. Rushing the process or purchasing inadequate, inferior or over-priced equipment can cost you more than just money. After stumbling through my first few high-anxiety security system purchases, I avoided many of its hurdles by creating a roadmap for examining the following areas with all vendor candidates:

  • Reputation and credibility of the provider
  • Track record and reliability of their products
  • Technical support and service resources
  • Product success and reviews
  • Cost comparison to similar equipment from direct competitors

When reviewing the reputation of the vendor, consider how long they have been in the business. Inquire about their recent clients and try to find out what their customers are saying — both good and bad. The company should have a solid reputation for manufacturing high-quality products, and this should be supported by online reviews from a variety of websites.

Google is a great place to start, and there are also technology-review sites that can offer end-user feedback regarding reliability, functionality and service from the company behind the products. Often, when you perform a Google search with the product name or model information and the word “reviews,” you will find little-known websites where end-users post the hard facts and comments, pro and con, regarding the equipment you are considering for purchase. This process works well when you are unable to schedule an onsite visit with a recent customer who’s using the equipment you’re considering.

Next, evaluate the reliability of the products the vendor sells. What is known about the company’s track record of producing the equipment you’re interested in? Are they new to the market or are they long-established veterans? Are they an original equipment manufacturer or selling someone else’s products? Have there been failures or recalls with past products or technology? Again, searching the web should yield information.

If all the lights are green at this point, review your preferred manufacturer’s product warranty information and do research into what happens when and if a product fails. Again, enter a Google search for your product, distributor or manufacturer and add words like “rating” or “comparisons” in the search window.

Although most security system manufacturers don’t deal directly with the end-users, it’s still important to consider the kinds of resources they offer to their partners, distributors and integrators, as it’s an indicator of the type of support you can expect down the road. The best security equipment manufacturers will provide a range of support tools and resources to their partners, including a comprehensive training program and 24/7 technical support. This is key because if you have a problem after normal business hours, you’ll need to turn to a trained professional quickly. The more resources your provider has available to them, the greater the benefit to you.

At this point, I’ll also work to determine what end-user training is available, if there is a fee, and if on-going or refresher training is available. With even normal staff turnover, retraining becomes a necessary part of your security system program. Instruction manuals, online troubleshooting resources and training videos can be incredibly handy, so be sure to inquire about the cost, availability and communication of updates.

Now I want to know what should occur if the security system fails and is temporarily out of service, needs replacement or repair or is impacted by something such as a lightning strike. Great manufacturers, distributors and service partners will design their products and programs with serviceability in mind. When it comes to security, downtime is a critical concern, so make sure you’re dealing with a company that places an emphasis on minimizing system downtime, provides supplementary or substitute services or loaner equipment as necessary and will be there as a true partner when things go wrong.

If you’ve gotten this far and everything is pointing towards a purchase, the last thing you should consider is the potential for expansion and technology upgrades to prevent your equipment from becoming archaic. We see this often in the computer software arena, and security products are affected in the same way these days, primarily because most use integrated software solutions.

Your security system is of paramount importance, and it pays to upgrade as technology (and criminals) evolve. So, before making that next big investment, be informed! The information you need to make intelligent and cost-effective decisions is only a few clicks away.

Operation Secure Store
Learn more about NSSF and ATF’s joint initiative to help FFLs make well-informed security-related decisions to deter and prevent thefts.

NSSF’s Store Security Audit Team is standing by to assist you with any physical or operational security or safety issue you may have including design, planning, training and crisis management. NSSF also partners with a variety of security product vendors. Log in to the Members-only side of to discover more.

You may also be interested in: Your Security System — Get Professional Help


About the Author
John Bocker is an NSSF Security Consultant Team Member and the Managing Director at JB Group, LLC, based in Denver, Colorado. JB Group is a business security and strategy consulting organization specializing in ATF FFL compliance and protecting FFLs against unexpected losses resulting from burglary, robbery and internal control failures. For more information call 720-514-0609.

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