Embrace the Differentiators
The meaning of the word “differentiator” is fairly straight forward: “something that enables a difference or distinction to be made.” In my entire career in the Access Control/RFID/Parking industries, I have always striven to provide my customers with products that help them differentiate themselves in a competitive marketplace.
All too often, I work with installing companies that end up fighting “feature wars,” and there is no better way to lose a sale. A good example of this is a good-sized PARCS job where multiple installing companies are offering their manufacturers’ systems and the decision made by the end user revolves around the color of the LED’s on the gate arm or some other “minor feature”. By offering differentiators during the sales/design process, you not only solve potential problems proactively, you strengthen your relationship with a prospect who is usually wary of the entire sales process. And you also exhibit your superior level of knowledge by disclosing prospective issues and/or potential problems.
A few examples of these differentiators are:
1) At both RFID companies I co-founded (AWID and TRES), we had a policy of inventorying large numbers of blank tags that we could program in our offices, or even in the field, for unrivaled fast delivery times. This short lead time proved to be a huge differentiator in the industry and resulted in a plethora of new business for us. It was also a huge differentiator for our installing dealers because they could provide superior service to their end user customers who (surprise, surprise) waited until they pulled the last RFID tag out of their inventory to let their installing company know they needed more.
2) During my tenure in the Army, I created a differentiator which, even though we had no competition, made us lots of friends in high places, and that never hurts. When we had a requirement to audit finance records for senior officers (O-4 and above) we used to make them schedule an appointment and come to us. My differentiator was to proactively make an appointment and go visit them, saving them significant amounts of time and creating a helpful relationship with those officers that could have an impact how we did business.
3) At cramZ marketing services, we offer a Bluetooth-enabled Reader that can be activated from an app that is loaded onto your smartphone. The real beauty of this product is that we have “pass through” readers that can be connected to any Wiegand input control system by wiring it “in line” with existing RFID Readers. Every sizeable (50 tags or more) RFID customer that is using long range Readers for gate controls has 5 to 15 percent of their users that can’t or won’t use the assigned tags. I have heard every excuse in the book, some legitimate ones like “too much metal content in my windshield”, or “the slope of my windshield is too drastic” and then of course many end users are adamant about the fact that “I refuse to stick a windshield tag to my vehicle” due to cosmetic issues or the simple belief that their vehicle is “too cool for school”. There is nothing quite as funny to an RFID guy than to see an end user sitting in his vehicle at the closed gate with a UHF windshield sticker in his hand that is designed to utilize the dielectric properties of the windshield glass and that end user is waving it furiously around in the air while cursing the RFID system that “doesn’t work”!
If you have not already made the connection here, that Bluetooth-enabled Reader is the differentiator here. Why not offer that as a solution during the sales process? Because your competitors will not, and they usually end up saying something to their end user like “well, I thought you knew about these issues beforehand.” You can differentiate your companies’ offerings by solving problems proactively and you will wish you were in the room when that prospect asks your competitor if their long-range Readers have the same problems and why didn’t they disclose that?
4) Now, let’s get down the “nitty-gritty” of this article, Veterans in Parking. We are a Not-for-Profit (pending) 501(c)(3) organization and are positioned to become a huge differentiator for your company, and even you personally. Our mission is to seek out Military Veterans, educate them on all the opportunities that the Parking and Transportation industries have to offer, and match these vets to employers in our industry.
The reasons for hiring vets are almost endless, but the key reasons we hear are things like “vets come to us already trained in many cases,” “vets have more discipline and punctuality,” “vets have a stronger leadership presence and are more respectful to my customers,” “After they have volunteered to put their lives on the line for me, I want to repay them in any way I can.”
So, why wouldn’t you utilize a sponsorship with Veterans in Parking to help differentiate your company? Put our logo on your website, your email signature block, your business cards, participate in job fairs with us in your geographical territory, help us reach out to military personnel in your area, sponsor your own Open House for Vets with our support and assistance or help us staff the Veterans in Parking booth at trade shows. All of our activities are funded by membership dues and sponsorships, so the sooner you get and/or your organization get on board, the faster we become an effective and viable presence in the Parking and Transportation industries. Let us be your differentiator!
Douglas Cram served as an Active Duty Member of the US Army from February 1976 thru April 1980 and on Reserve Status thru April 1982. Cram was one one of the first to enroll in the volunteer army while still enjoying the Vietnam era GI Bill benefits program. During his first two years in the German theater, Cram traveled the European theater extensively doing TDY while auditing finance agencies. Upon returning to CONUS, Cram served with the 27 Air Combat Calavary Bgd. and the 1st Cavalry Division .
Douglas Cram is a founding member and Treasurer of Veterans in Parking, President and CEO of cramZ marketing services, Inc. and co-owner and V.P Sales of The Housing Company, LLC. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via phone at (770) 331-5864 (cell).