When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
That’s certainly an appropriate expression to describe Kerry Egan’s mindset when she put rubber to road on Nov. 9, 2010. As vice president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Security Partners, a wholesale monitoring provider, Egan embarked on a nationwide voyage she calls her “road to recurring revenue tour.” With a 42-foot fifth wheel RV in tow — joined only by Kyla, her eight-year-old Boxer — Egan is still out there today and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
What drove her to the ply the country’s white lines in search of new business? In short, a rough economy and losing 9,000 accounts in one fell swoop after one of Security Partners’ clients was acquired by a company that operates its own central station.
“That reduced our customer base by approximately 30 percent. It obviously took a chunk out of our revenue,” she told me the other day while traveling through Southern California.
I first got wind of Egan’s road trip during the California Alarm Association’s (CAA) winter convention in December. Egan took part in a roundtable interview I conducted with other young security professionals for SSI‘s March issue. (You can read the article here.)
She was about 30 days into her journey at that point and not having much luck getting face time with prospects, let alone opening any doors. Frustrated, her concern mounted that maybe this wasn’t such a hot idea after all. Important lesson No. 1: The holiday period is a lousy time to go cold calling.
“By the second week in January things turned around and I have been running about on average four appointments each week since then,” she says.
Egan says in the five months she’s been on the road she has picked up nine dealers to date who have signed agreements to begin using Security Partners’ central station services.
“A lot of that is for live video monitoring services. That is our way in the door. We have a very aggressive video platform compared to other centrals. It gives us something to go in and talk about and offer the dealer that they might not already have with their existing relationship,” she says.
Egan’s ambitious sales drive wasn’t exactly a willy-nilly impromptu act. Prior to making the commitment she had been working diligently educating herself on the latest video monitoring technologies and software applications. She hit the road already prepared to speak intelligently on new business applications and answer questions confidently.
“I didn’t know at the end of the day the preparation was going to lead to buying an RV, but I was prepared,” she says.
And fit to operate a 42-foot RV pulled by a large truck? Not so much. “I had zero experience. They spent two hours showing me how to use the remote control on the TV and nothing about the mechanicals!”
Egan’s learned being on the road allows her a far greater ability to nurture individual relationships with prospective clients. So much so that she maintains the road tour will continue for several years with periodic returns to her home base in Lancaster.
“The No. 1 thing is the ability to network with the dealers and take part in the association meetings, the social settings. I have the ability to meet them outside of their office when they are in a more relaxed mode and then I can schedule a follow up meeting,” she says. “It gives me a longer window of opportunity to create that relationship without flying across country and flying back.”
So who is minding the shop while she’s on her business sojourn? Well, she is. Egan continues to lead all of the operations at the monitoring center. For instance, she conducts daily dealer support meetings via Skype with her staff beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Her appointments are scheduled thereafter.
The RV is even equipped to host demonstrations, Egan says. “I have an outdoor setup with an alarm system and cameras hooked up so we can demo the services. It’s nicer than the house I live in. I can demonstrate opening a door and closing a door, video escort service and video verification.”
After holing up in Las Vegas for ISC West in early April, Egan will set an eastward course to spend some time in Lancaster and be in Charlotte, N.C., in time for ESX. Then the “road to recurring revenue tour” begins anew.
“I have my schedule laid out through 2012,” Egan says. “Only this time I am going to be at home over the holiday.”
Rodney Bosch | Managing Editor