Located in Clinton Township, Mich., Act Now Alarm Services did not go unscathed when the recession hit. No wonder given its geographic proximity to an area suffering such severe economic hardship.
“Historically, Detroit is usually hit with the recession first,” Act Now Alarm Vice President Dean Belisle says. “We’re usually the last to come out of it.”
Yet even as it struggles to fully recover from the economic turmoil, Act Now Alarm saw its business increase 6 percent in 2010. How? To hear Belisle explain it, the company follows the mantra that the customer always comes first — roughly 99 percent of its new business is generated from referrals. That is a chief reason why the company earned a nomination for the 2011 Installer of the Year (small to midsize company).
Founded in 1976, Act Now Alarm has 30 employees, including an IT specialist the company recently added. It services about 10,000 customers in the Detroit metro area with a 60-percent residential and 40-percent commercial split. The company’s portfolio of services includes access control, fire/life-safety, intrusion and video surveillance systems. Operating from one location, the company also operates its own central station.
In order to help keep new business coming in, Belisle’s philosophy is to hire personality over experience.
“The idea is that if you find the right person who is honest and has a good work ethic, he will take care of other people and put the customer’s needs first. We can then train him to do technical details and sales,” he says.
Belisle notes it takes roughly six months to train new technicians before they go out in the field. It then takes an additional six months of training before installers can become comfortable with the company’s craftsman-type installation processes.
“Everything’s got a personal touch to it, so it takes longer to train our techs,” he says. “Most of it is hands-on training with our senior staff, but we also rely heavily on manufacturers.”
To foster a creative and interactive work environment, Act Now Alarm executives make a point to include employees in decision-making processes. For example, as senior management contemplated using Honeywell products for its installations, the higher-ups had both its senior installation and technical staffs interview manufacturer representatives.
“Our folks are very bright people, and they’re gifted,” Belisle says. “We try to involve everyone at the company when making decisions like that. Our employees have empowerment over their own jobs and careers while they’re at work.”
Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.
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