SSI’s annual Best of the Best issue (July 2013) includes profiles of seven of the industry best-run installing security contracting companies. My interviews with executives and managers from runner-up Bates Security covered much ground not included in print. Following is the second of a few bonus excerpts, with Bates’ Sonny Bates, Jeremy Bates and Bryan Bates here addressing business strategies and sales & marketing methods. Be on the lookout for more online extras from Bates Security, as well as other Installer of the Year and Integrated Installation of the Year winners and finalists.
What business practices and strategies does Bates Security deploy to ensure its success?
Sonny Bates, Bates Security Principal Owner: A core business practice is simply to provide good customer service and continually improving that service. This allows us to have a great reputation, sign new customers through referrals and keep the customers we have. Customer service will continually build and reinforce our reputation in the community. Our referral business has increased drastically in the last year and that can only be explained by our outstanding service.
Jeremy Bates, Bates Security General Manager/Owner: Attitude plus performance equals employment, or APE. This is a core company philosophy which we learned from John Jennings of Safeguard in Phoenix. Also, teaming with key partners such as Honeywell, First Alert Professional and the Sonitrol National Dealers Association provides great support. In addition, we conduct bi-weekly “Save Meetings” where we will discuss current and potential cancellations. These meetings consist of a representative from each department who come together to create applicable solutions to customer needs that will discourage the customer from cancelling their services.
Bryan Bates, Bates Security Commercial Sales Manager/Owner: From a sales prospective, we identify the vertical markets we are most successful in and focus our efforts on those markets. We believe in focusing on local events and live events to meet our potential clients. Territory managers work with our marketing team to focus on their territories specific needs. Our solid reputation as a customer service minded company and 40 years in our community generates opportunities. However, we encourage and expect our sales team to generate their own leads. We are fortunate that our owner is willing to invest in the technology such as iPhones and iPads for our sales team. Since 2010, we have had and continue to use these resources for product demos, scheduling, fact book use and more. We have also invested in a new Customer Relationship Management system and quoting software that allow for quick and efficient records on all leads and pending sales.
How are those business plans executed and adjusted? What are your growth targets and strategies?
Bryan Bates: Execution is measured weekly and activity adjusted based on results of individual and team effort, marketing efforts are measured and less productive activities are taken out of the game plan. Internal software is used to track leads and measure our success. It’s simple, we continue doing what works, we cease doing what doesn’t work. We aren’t afraid to try new things and take risks. In the last two years, we have completely changed our tradeshow booth and have invested in new pieces such as banner stands and promotional items that more effectively communicate our value to our potential and existing clients. In the last year, we have doubled our booth size and increased our leads and sales as a direct result of our trade show efforts.
What sales and marketing techniques are used to support those business plans?
Jeremy Bates: We have always had an aggressive sales team, pounding the pavement, seeking the usual referrals and effectively answering our call-ins and online leads. We have moved to build a social media presence as well as an organic Internet presence. We are heavily invested in Search Engine Optimization, blogging and inbound marketing. A new marketing venture is partnering with two local network television stations and beginning in June we launched our first-ever TV commercial campaign. We also began an online banner advertisement campaign with a local news station. Our marketing approach is simple – “less is more.” We value the simplistic but bold look of our logo which is also used as our yard signs, security and locksmith decals, magnets and other marketing materials. A consistent image with the Bates Security brand is very important.
Bryan Bates: Sales techniques are based on what is good for the client and improving their business flow. Marketing techniques are largely focused on improving our presence on the Internet through the use of Web optimization and social media platforms, we believe in going out to end users and educating and saying yes to as many tradeshows that fit our market as we can so that we can “see the people.”
How are these sales and marketing initiatives measured, reviewed and revamped?
Jeremy Bates: We track our lead sources very closely. Call-ins and -outs are recorded and data is saved and compared weekly. We have had our share of successes and failures with specific marketing plans. All data and marketing strategies are tracked, discussed and either improved or retired.
Bryan Bates: Our sales and marketing team are asked to keep a log of daily activities, including incoming and outgoing sales calls and E-mails. After our tradeshows, we meet to discuss what we liked and didn’t like about the show, successes and failures and of course, costs and profit. We have made appropriate adjustments based on employee and customer suggestions and have seen an increase in sales due to trade shows within the last year.