At a point in young people’s lives when many run up credit card bills on keggers or concert tickets, 20-year-old college student Mike Jagger used his $500 limit card to launch a security empire in 1996. He has since built British Columbia-based Provident Security into one of Vancouver’s largest privately held, full service security firms with more than 200 employees and in excess of 6,000 clients.
How did Jagger do it? By applying a unique approach to security and marketing, and establishing a working environment that has been lauded as one of the region’s finest. Central to the company’s innovative go-to-market strategy is guaranteed 24/7 alarm response in five minutes or less.
“Providing a guaranteed five-minute response service is a big commitment that requires complete focus on what fits and what doesn’t,” says Jagger. “The result is that Provident is able to provide a service unmatched in the industry.”
A runner-up in past years, Jagger and Provident’s enterprise and ingenuity lifted the firm to top honors in SSI‘s 2011 Installer of the Year competition in the large company category (150 or more employees). Following is a closer look at the business practices and philosophical principles behind this extraordinary security provider.
Delivering on 5-Minute Promise
Jagger’s first customer was York House School, a private girls’ institution that hired him to provide security at a high school dance. Fifteen years later the school is still a client, with Provident providing event security as well as traffic control, guard service, and alarm and access control monitoring.
Today, Provident offers a wide range of services for residential, commercial and industrial clients, including uniformed security guards, and alarm and electronic security system design, installation and monitoring. The company’s clients include some of British Columbia’s largest and highest risk buildings, important public figures, prestigious hotels, and hundreds of vacation homeowners.
In 2005, Provident designed and built its own central monitoring station, dubbed the Operations Centre. MAS monitoring software is used to interpret and manage incoming alarm signals, but custom software was developed that has completely automated the dispatch process. Alarm signals are automatically routed to the closest available responder using GPS and Blackberry devices. This enables the five-minute response for which Provident has become famous.
“Our Operations Centre team does not waste any time manually dispatching intrusion alarms,” says Jagger. “Every signal is automatically routed to the appropriate responder within four seconds. This frees our team up to spend more time on the phone with clients and only get involved in ‘exceptions.’”
To uphold that lightning-fast response, on the monitoring side of the business Provident limits its geographical reach. Rather than provide response throughout Vancouver, service is restricted residentially to west of Oak Street and commercially west of Cambie Street as well as the city’s core downtown area.
Another way Provident shatters the traditional alarm company service model is by offering concierge service to all clients. Billed on an a la carte basis, the Homewatch service allows clients to have Provident pick up their newspapers, water plants, feed cats, check the water heater, shovel snow, drive the family to the airport or perform virtually any other errand.
“We are committed to providing a remarkable experience for our customers,” says Jagger. “We know most people don’t think about their security company in the same way they don’t think about their furnace company. We work hard to change that. Our goal is to inspire clients to say, ‘You won’t believe what Provident did for me today.’”
Provident, which remains 100-percent owned by Jagger, has been recognized three times as one of the 25 Best Places to Work in B.C. by BC Business Magazine. The firm has been featured in more than 700 media pieces, and Jagger has become an in-demand speaker for business audiences throughout North America. In 2010, he spoke at two Fortune Sales & Marketing Summits and addressed entrepreneur groups in New York, Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver.
Working Social Media, Seminars
Getting Provident started on a shoestring budget required Jagger to not only work hard and smartly, but also to become a very creative marketer. This grassroots, guerilla-like mentality carries over to his methods today, which while frequently unorthodox are usually very effective. In fact, the company does almost nothing associated with traditional marketing tactics.
Provident’s overriding marketing theme is about promoting customer education and training as it relates to security and alarm systems. Messaging techniques include social media, monthly home security seminars, proactive client communication, referrals and community involvement.
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