Idea of the Month
If you had just one really big idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month, we feature Rodney Hooker, president of San Antonio-based Dispatch Center Ltd.
Hooker’s big idea:
“View your relationship with a wholesale monitoring company as an equal partner. Make occasional visits, and always be asking, ‘What can we do better in the future that we haven’t done in the past?’”
I have known Rodney Hooker, president of Dispatch Center Ltd., a wholesale monitoring company in San Antonio, for the better part of 20 years. We met when the company I founded, Security Associates Int’l (SAI), started acquiring wholesale monitoring providers throughout the United States.
Hooker was managing a company in Dallas that was purchased by SAI; he remained onboard and we became friends. He has gone on to become the president of the Texas Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (TBFAA) and is recognized as a leader in the industry. Before I delve into Hooker’s big idea, let me quickly tell you what precipitated my call to him. While attending a recent Tennessee Electronic Security Association (TNESA) meeting as a guest speaker, I was wandering around the exhibit floor and realized that fully one-third of the exhibitors were wholesale monitoring companies. I’ve seen this same phenomenon at other state meetings as well. I asked Hooker to comment about this seemingly endless proliferation of wholesale monitoring firms.
Hooker said he has seen the same trend in Texas. We agreed it is only likely to increase. That makes it incumbent upon you, the independent alarm dealer, to constantly assess the contributions and value your central station is delivering to you. That was my hook to seek his insights for this column.
Does your monitoring center provide you with quality training? Your own telephone lines? Competitive pricing? Dealer-friendly software? Fully trained operators? Innovative and groundbreaking telecommunications services? Over-the-top customer service for your clientele and your employees? Do you get straight answers to business questions? Is billing software timely and competitive? And finally, does your monitoring facility really believe they are partnering with you or just providing a service?
Conversely, since we are viewing this as a partnership, are you unrealistic in your expectations of what a third-party central station should provide? Do you berate operators? Do you help your monitoring company to better understand your business? Do you pay your monitoring bills on time? Do you send thank you notes when they’ve gone out of their way to do something special for you or your company?
Build a Thriving Alliance
You should consider providing your central station with a report card to illustrate how they’re performing. And of greater importance, with the rise in wholesale monitoring operations, have you been less than loyal to your monitoring company for a nominal savings and monitoring fees? Those new companies must be getting customers from somewhere!
Based on my travels around the industry, most of the operations I have observed have been well run, competently managed, staffed by seemingly qualified individuals who enjoy the work that they do. To paraphrase Will Rogers, who once said he has never met a man that he didn’t like, I’ve never met a monitoring operator who didn’t appreciate positive reinforcement after doing particularly well with a problematic issue. Why not make this part of your communications with your central station? If you are really treating the central station as a partner, then it follows that the employees there are also your partners. Let them know it when they’ve done particularly well.
Like any good relationship, the future of your business and the monitoring business is co-dependent upon each other. Just make sure you doing your share. I assure you Hooker would agree with just that.
Ron Davis is a SSI Hall of Fame inductee and President of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group Inc. Also known as The Graybeards, the company is active in acquisitions and mergers exclusively in the alarm business.