The sky is NOT falling.
That’s your competitor making it rain by going to market in a new manner. Instead of fretting over it, alarm dealers must adapt to the market conditions and work with their central station to position themselves to not only compete, but to thrive.
If that means creating a market niche, offering a new service or promoting the private industry’s technical superiorities, you better do it. If you don’t, your business will suffer.
Yes, We Can Do That!
Increasingly, alarm components are being integrated with other electronic elements in a building, namely audio/visual entertainment systems. It’s natural then for A/V system installers to branch out to offer security devices in their packages.
For example, many building owners now choose to have cameras trained on points of entry so a motion sensor can trigger a video system that displays real-time images on monitors or televisions in a picture-in-picture manner. They may even incorporate access control capabilities to allow entry into the premise. Once this step is taken, it makes sense for A/V installers to offer interior motion sensors, as well as PIRs, glass-breaks and so on.
The impact of this integration is that alarm dealers now have a new class of competitors in their marketplace. However, that does not mean you have to cede the territory. Instead, alarm dealers should branch out to A/V systems, market their security expertise and leverage knowledge of working with a central station to incorporate other unique capabilities, such as fire systems, environmental monitoring and two-way voice.
Think about it. If you, as a prospect, had to choose only one company with similar offerings to install these two distinct systems, wouldn’t you hire the professional with specific skill set who could help protect your family or employees?
Additionally, making the decision to offer A/V installation services may present an opportunity to focus on vertical markets, such as multifamily housing or assisted-living facilities to name a couple.
Look for New Revenue Streams
In addition to planting your flag in new ground, alarm dealers should examine their core competency to find ways to expand their service offerings to existing customers — and their families.
Although personal emergency response service (PERS) is not new, the demand for it is growing as the cost of assisted living and nursing care continues to outpace almost all investment portfolios. That’s why many central stations have begun to offer it in recent years.
PERS presents a great opportunity for alarm dealers to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR) stream with minimal service outlay because most installations require only an electrical outlet and a telephone line.
Competing With the Public Sector
In an age during which local government bodies are strapped for cash, alarm dealers may find themselves competing for customers with the public sector.
When this happens in a market, alarm dealers are usually handicapped by the local authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) in multiple ways, including mandates for fire systems to connect to a municipal fire-alarm board and AHJs “influencing” potential customers to use the government’s services.
Faced with these conditions, alarm dealers must demonstrate the private sector’s superiority in technology, physical plant requirements, service and price. Fortunately, most potential customers would prefer to work with the private sector — especially after they are informed of the higher central station standards that must be met compared to the local public safety answering point (PSAP), which is not audited by third parties like UL or FM Mutual.
To make this point, alarm dealers should use their central station company as a direct comparison to the local PSAP and educate the market about its redundancies, performance standards and physical plant capabilities, which will far surpass those of the PSAP.
Also, the end users must understand that private sector central stations provide services the PSAPs cannot, including notification of party lists and implementing false alarm prevention tactics like multicall verification, cross-zoning and video monitoring. (You should also point out that PSAPs actually increase their revenue via fines when there is a false dispatch.)
Lastly and most importantly, let your customers know that central stations are constantly competing with each other for business, which raises the performance bar yet keeps costs in check. By simply asking the customer if they believe the government has their best interests in mind, you will have made a very valid point as to why they should choose the private sector over the public sector.