I recently attended a conference that featured the former marketing guru of Harley Davidson as the keynote speaker. He discussed the huge down turn of company sales they faced following the American invasion of foreign motorcycle imports. Harley sales took a nose dive and the company was in danger of going out of business. A new strategy was required.

The strategy that solved the problem was simplicity itself. Create an atmosphere that inspired motorcycle riders to want to be Harley Davidson riders. How to accomplish that…the decision…let’s make the customer “like” us!

In conjunction with that milestone decision, the entire company began to create an atmosphere in their showrooms that embraced the customer. They created Harley owner clubs, Harley clothing, Harley accessories, and an overall atmosphere that brought Harley Davidson customers together to enjoy themselves. People would come around to just visit and see “what’s happening?”

The Big Differentiator

The moral of the story is quite simple: People want to do business with people they like.

Sure…they want and expect quality. Sure…they want and expect good service. But what is the differentiator that sets a company or an individual apart? It’s doing business with someone you like and genuinely enjoy being around. If you were to open a dictionary and look up the words “like” or “likeable” you would find something defined as “having qualities that bring about a favorable regard.”

If one continues beyond that and delves into the word “favorable” – we discover “providing preferential treatment.” That is what Harley Davidson managed to accomplish. They made each customer feel that he or she was getting preferential treatment. And, they gave each and everyone that same preferential treatment.

Motorcycles = Security

How does that relate to the business of security? I translate the above into what I think of as the three Cs – caring, communicating, and collaborating.

Do They Care About You?

It’s easy to discern if someone cares, especially in our business, especially during a difficult time. Do they parallel the sense of urgency you have in a time of crisis? Do you feel a true sense of your integrator “wanting to get it done” and meeting your needs? How quickly do they react to your service issues? Are you ever ignored? Does your representative stop by to just “check-up” and see how things are going or do you only see them when you’re at the crash and burn stage? Do they really “care” or are they just fulfilling an obligation? You can always tell – it’s obvious.

The Importance of Communications

How good is the communications process between you and your integrator? Does he talk to you about you and your firm’s security objectives and concerns? Does he know and understand your security philosophy? Has he taken the time to discuss past incidents that may have occurred and the current security guidelines in existence? Does he understand your freedom of movement policies and evacuation procedures? Does he ask lots of questions before assisting you with course of action planning? Is he aware of your long term goals?

Working Together

Chief security officers and security directors need system integrators that collaborate with them. How well do you work together? Does your system integrator work with you and for you in achieving your stated goals? That means bringing new products to the table, and keeping you informed of product changes and software enhancements.

Good integrators will assist their clients in being knowledgeable about the state-of-the-art of the industry. Do they bring products into your facility for you to test and evaluate in your “real” world, before making decisions? Are you getting to see and evaluate before buying and installing? Collaboration means working together towards a common goal…is that true for your integration relationship?

Just as Harley Davidson’s success was driven by embracing the customer, the system integrator you learn to like will be the one that assists in your business success. He or she will be caring, communicative and collaborative in a manner that assures it!