The Rise of Mandates
Another trend in the security and fire/life-safety industries is the growing number of mandates facing installing dealers and contractors. Those who have long incorporated fire and life-safety products into their offering understand the various building regulations that exist across the country, on a state and local level. But dealers who are new to the fire and life-safety world need to familiarize themselves with mandates that may apply to them.
“More and more municipalities continue to mandate early-warning systems in the residential and commercial segments,” MacDowell says. “CO detection is now mandated in more than 30 states, and that’s because a blend of early-warning fire or smoke detectors and CO detectors can save lives.”
Licensing is another concern for many dealers. Dealers do not have to be licensed to sell CO detection; however, many states require licenses for smoke and fire detector sales.
“Every dealer should contact their local agency having jurisdiction to find out what mandates and licenses apply in their area,” says Reginald Blakely, senior product manager at Monitronics. “Especially for new dealers, this will help them to decide whether to incorporate fire and life-safety products into their offering.”
Other Hurdles & Opportunities
Despite the challenges, now is a great time for the security and fire/life-safety industries. As consumer awareness and demand grows for these products, dealers and contractors have an opportunity to grow their business in new ways.
McAward agrees that fire and life-safety products provide the dealer or contractor with many opportunities to expand their business. For consumers, a fire or life-safety add-on can be the difference between saying yes and walking away from a contract.
“If a security-only buyer is ‘on the fence’ about signing a contract, adding a life-safety component may convince them to proceed; protecting the lives of their family and pets is a very impactful message,” McAward says. “However, the contractor needs to overcome a number of objections: although it costs more to add fire and life-safety devices, the benefits are very real and can be priceless.”
MacDowell agrees that adding a life-safety option can help seal the deal with prospects who are on the fence, leading to more revenue and “stickier” customers.
“The life-safety add-on to an intrusion system can be a simple sale,” he says. “Not only is the consumer better protected with life-safety products, such as smoke and heat detection, many manufacturers also offer wireless heat detectors and new seven-year life CO detectors. This provides dealers with opportunities for additional revenue and a longer lasting and satisfied account base.”
At Honeywell, internal studies have shown that a sizeable portion of security rejecters still find a life-safety message appealing. That’s why some contractors lead with the life-safety message: their core offering is monitored fire, and the burglary features are secondary. With this approach a dealer can reach those consumers who are less concerned about crime, since the threat of fire, CO poisoning and personal injury exists in every neighborhood, regardless of burglary rates.
If a dealer is considering expanding their product offering, it’s important to remember that consumers expect providers to be well-versed on even the newest products.
“Really, the largest challenge is keeping up with consumer expectations of technology,” McAward says. “The customer is looking to you to be the expert on a much wider range of technologies, which means the contractor or dealer needs to be recruiting the best talent and investing in their training.”
The good news is, with the economy showing signs of improvement, many dealers are seeing sales increase. Now is a great time to invest in growing your business with high-quality employees and ongoing training. Many manufacturers and dealer programs offer ongoing training for new sales professionals and technicians.
“Hiring, training, and retaining great employees seem to be at the top of our customers’ list of challenges,” MacDowell says. “Dealers are telling us that sales are up, and the need for quality installations and service technicians is paramount for growth.”
Morgan Dobias is a dealer marketing coordinator for Monitronics Int’l. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
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The Rebirth of Residential Revenues