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Fire Can Breathe Life Into Your Business

Does fire/life-safety work scare you a bit? It’s OK, you’re not alone.

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Does fire/life-safety work scare you a bit? It’s OK, you’re not alone. Admit it, you’re among friends and no one is going to think any less of you. There now, feeling nice, relaxed and safe? That’s great … NOW WAKE UP AND GET WITH THE PROGRAM! Consider this an intervention because the fire/life-safety market has never been a more viable option for electronic security professionals seeking to maintain a steady stream of business during these vexing economic times.

Sure, there are more codes, standards and regulations to deal with, along with perhaps increased liability exposure and having to deal with persnickety authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs). And yes, it may mean additional training and certification for some of your technicians/installers or bringing some new blood or electricians on staff, as well as educating your salespeople about how to sell these types of systems and solutions.

Well, guess what. Regardless of all that, the upside far outweighs the down. Despite the slowdown of new construction, installing company CEOs I have spoken with say their fire business has been one of the few things they have been able to count on during the economic downturn.

There continues to be high demand for upgrades and modifications in existing homes and buildings. Changing codes and abolished grandfathered regulations have quite nicely positioned contractors serving those markets and given newer entrants exciting opportunities. Additionally, the fire/life-safety market has benefited from an acceleration of technology and products entering the marketplace.

Still not sold? Then consider this: Although SSI’s 2009 Installation Business Report (IBR) found that the average number of fire installations per dealer was fl at, all other sectors (video, intrusion and access control) actually declined. And the fire market has been the most stable of them all the past seven years. But the best part is that commercial fire/life-safety business not only brings in the highest per-project dollar amount ($15,566), but also saw a 4-percentage-point spike in average gross profit margin (39 percent) in 2009.

One area with a huge upside is carbon monoxide (CO) detection. According to IBR data, only 18 percent of fire alarm installations include it. However, CO awareness, codification and legislation have risen substantially. Stories like the one out of Florida in early April where a woman succumbed to a power generator’s CO fumes inside her home have become all too common. “Firefighters say carbon monoxide detectors are just as important as smoke detectors,” said the NBC-TV news affiliate report.

This is a golden opportunity to help save lives and turn a tidy profit selling, installing, maintaining and monitoring CO detectors. Such equipment and services can be sold to new and existing customers, and can be used as an add-on, standalone or point of entry to pitch other products and services. What really excites me about fire/life safety is it engages installing and monitoring companies before really bad things happen. Detection is essential, but contributing to the prevention of death or injury and minimizing property damage/loss is pretty darn gratifying. It’s also nice to be crucial in the response process, aiding firefighters to not only help the public but reduce their own risk.

So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of the valuable information in this, our annual fire/life-safety issue. And keep up with Al Colombo’s “Fire Side Chat” columns in SSI and online, bone up on NFPA codes, get your people trained, align yourself with leading fire/life-safety equipment suppliers, prospect via services like LeadTracker, and make nice-nice with your local AHJs.

Article Topics
Business Management · Fire/Life Safety · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Between Us Pros · CO Detection · Installation Business Report IBR · MarketingPromotions · Selling Systems · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott joined SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in October 1998 and has distinguished himself by producing award-winning, exemplary work. His editorial achievements have included blockbuster articles featuring major industry executives, such as Tyco Electronic Products Group Managing Director Gerry Head; Protection One President/CEO Richard Ginsburg; former Brink’s Home Security President/CEO Peter Michel; GE Interlogix President/CEO Ken Boyda; Bosch Security Systems President/CEO Peter Ribinski; and former SecurityLink President/CEO Jim Covert. Scott, who is an NTS Certified alarm technician, has become a respected and in-demand speaker at security industry events, including presentations at the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Annual Meeting; California Alarm Association (CAA) Summer and Winter Conferences; PSA Security Network Conference; International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC); and Security Industry Association (SIA) Forum. Scott often acts as an ambassador to mainstream media and is a participant in several industry associations. His previous experience as a cable-TV technician/installer and running his own audio company -- along with a lifelong fascination with electronics and computers -- prepared Scott well for his current position. Since graduating in 1986 with honors from California State University, Northridge with a degree in Radio-Television- Film, his professional endeavors have encompassed magazines, radio, TV, film, records, teletext, books, the Internet and more. In 2005, Scott captured the prestigious Western Publisher Maggie Award for Best Interview/Profile Trade for "9/11 Hero Tells Tale of Loses, Lessons," his October 2004 interview with former FDNY Commander Richard Picciotto, the last man to escape the Ground Zero destruction alive.
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Between Us Pros, CO Detection, Installation Business Report IBR, MarketingPromotions, Selling Systems