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Delivering solutions, not just equipment, crucial for modern-day radio dealers

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Selling boxes simply isn’t enough for radio dealers to thrive in today’s ever-changing communications environment, according to Patrick Hobby, owner of QDS Communications, which invented the SchoolSAFE solution.

Selling boxes simply isn’t enough for radio dealers to thrive in today’s ever-changing communications environment.

That’s the message from Patrick Hobby, owner of QDS Communications, the 13-employee Motorola Solutions dealer and service shop based in Colorado that invented the SchoolSAFE solution that recently was deployed in an Ohio school district to enable direct communications between school personnel using a MOTOTRBO network and first responder on a P25 network.

“I think it’s possible for an organization to have a customer connection that deals in commoditized radio products. In selling two-way radio products, for example, people already know what they want, and they’re just looking for the features, the right channels, whether it’s a repeater or this or that,” Hobby said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “But my advice to the industry is to reach down deeper into the solutions business—the integration of solutions into the marketplace, with training being the lead application.”

Such an approach requires a channel partner to recognize what customers are seeking from their communications, understand what challenges they face and then work to deliver solutions that address key difficulties, Hobby said. Often, the ability to accomplish this begins at a personal level, not a technological one, he said.

“People make all of the difference in the worldbasically, that one relationship that’s spawned from the dealer organization that turns into a value-added relationship, based on the spoken word and what you’re really delivering," Hobby said.

“What I would encourage to dealers is that they need to dig deeper into their understanding of how their customers make their money and become value added to that process, instead of being just a commodity dealer that does not know why they use the radios, for example.”

Indeed, the notion of SchoolSAFE was developed in the aftermath of the tragic 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, where a lack of interoperable communications between public-safety agencies was cited as a problem, according to Hobby.

“We knew about the communications issues from the Columbine report and being local here and knowing people that dealt with that tragedy firsthand,” Hobby said. “So it was spawned from our understanding of communications, as it related to the Columbine tragedy.”

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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