Michael Saltzgiver, Chief Operating Officer with HEI Security, learned most of what he knows about selling to and servicing municipal clients fairly close to home, by Utah standards. Two and a half hours by car from his Salt Lake City office is Duchesne County, where his team has installed a number of security solutions.
“It’s a very rural county, known for its surplus of pristine, open spaces, and great fishing reservoirs,” he says.
Many of the empty spaces, however, are quite profitable: The county is oil rich.
“Oil drilling is a major portion of the economy,” says Saltzgiver. Over the past year, he and his team have been working with entities of Duchesne County to upgrade or install video surveillance solutions. This has given them a uniquely up-close view of the area and how it works.
A Relationship is Born and Grows
A phone call started the relationship. “They wanted us to take a look at the cameras they were using to monitor a landfill because they weren’t working very well,” Saltzgiver recalls. “HEI’s strength is IT technology and security, so we recommended using cameras controlled by sophisticated video management software (VMS).”
Before the bid for the landfill project was even approved, the county asked Saltzgiver to bid on installing a system in the jail, which it rents to the state of Utah. “We did a bid for 86 cameras at the jail,” Saltzgiver says. “They awarded us that. Then they approved the bid to install four cameras at the landfill. Then they needed a system in the libraries, so we bid on installing cameras in the library in the town of Duchesne and more in the Roosevelt library. That was approved.”
HEI’s winning streak in Duchesne County was just getting started.
“Once the library systems were up and running, they called and said the juvenile justice center needed cameras and audio in the interviewing rooms so everything could be recorded,” says Saltzgiver. “So we installed in all three of the rooms. Then they called about the fairgrounds, where we put in a bid to deploy multiple cameras, which was approved.”
It was at the fair that they were approached about the county’s administrative building, which was in need of an upgrade. “We were contracted to install multiple cameras in the admin building,” Saltzgiver says. And the fair project led to an inquiry from the mayor of the town of Duchesne, with more systems ‘to look at’.
Revisiting Good Business Practices
Saltzgiver concedes that a lot of what guides his work with municipal clients is equally applicable to projects in the private sector. Regardless, he believes they are worth revisiting at the beginning of every engagement:
- Know your strengths
- Do not treat your customers like guinea pigs
- Choose vendors wisely
- Control costs
Saltzgiver explains that HEI started as a security company but expanded into IT when it became apparent that technology was becoming the center of the industry. HEI founder Dan Pearson, for example, has more than 25 years experience in IT. Their solutions have become more deeply integrated with technology such as open platform video management software (VMS) offered by Milestone Systems, which is the foundation of HEI’s offerings.
“We’ve retained 96 percent of our customers,” he says. “They keep coming back to us because our combination of service and IT skill enables us to do a lot of things for our customers that others can’t.”
“One of the biggest concerns of a municipality is finances,” he says. “It’s their job to make sure taxpayers are getting the most bang for their buck. That’s where our expertise comes in: We can keep the prices down but at the same time deliver a high level of quality.”
One of the ways HEI controls costs on behalf of municipal customers is to take care of testing and training before the solution is deployed. “We test every camera and every system here in our facility before the sale,” he says. Another of Saltzgiver’s guiding principles for working with municipalities is therefore never to use the customer as a guinea pig.
Saltzgiver says he sees the vendors he works with as partners in his success in serving municipal customers. “We work with our vendors to make sure we have the personnel trained appropriately,” he says. “Before we’re there with the customers, we make sure we know what the optimal camera settings are, how to achieve them and numerous other things. Milestone has a well-developed certification and knowledge program, for example.”
Being familiar with the products and the vendors that sell them is important not only before the installation but after as well. “That’s yet another way our blending of IT and security is valuable in how we sell to and service municipal clients,” Saltzgiver says. “We send the right people on service calls, based on what the job requires. That way our clients aren’t getting a tech who comes to their location then learns the job by sitting on the phone with someone. We don’t build in extra hours, which is hugely important when costs are scrutinized by taxpayers.”
Finally, Saltzgiver says one of the keys to winning business with municipal customers is to be highly selective when choosing vendors. “We pick up systems that are good and that we are good at, such as the Milestone VMS,” he says. “We take the same approach to cameras.”
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