The October issue of SSI features a guide to selecting a third-party central monitoring station in which nine providers are spotlighted. I conducted extensive interviews with executives from all of them, most of which could not be shoehorned into the print publication. In this exclusive bonus blog, United Central Control (UCC) Senior Vice President / Sales and Marketing Mark Matlock discusses signal transmission, new service opportunities and compliance challenges.
How have changing signal transmission methods impacted your company as well as your dealers’ businesses? Challenges? Technical issues? Sales issues? Pros/cons? Opportunities?
Mark Matlock: The continuing issues with PSTN routing has been a challenge. Much of the old POTS traffic has been routed over VoIP and it has caused issues with signal translation due to latency and tones not transmitting properly. It has necessitated a lot of service calls for dealers. Fortunately, UCC has multiple carriers and can usually rectify the situation by routing through another carrier. UCC’s firm stance to dealers is to just stay away from POTS and use IP with cell back up. This creates a lot of opportunity as the IP is faster and can support more services.
Does your company favor owning an account outright or being a monitoring partner/provider? What are the pluses and minuses to each scenario?
Matlock: UCC is a huge advocate of dealers owning accounts outright. His or her future is built on building a large base of accounts and selling them at one time down the road. This is the inherent retirement plan for alarm dealers. The question is, why would a dealer want to sell out their future for some quick cash today that basically gets eaten up with overhead? It’s a zero sum game. The allure of quick money is attractive but we have yet to see a lifetime “dealer program” dealer retire from his or her savings. On the other hand, we have witnessed literally dozens of dealers who have amassed large account bases and sold the accounts and retired comfortably. Many of these people never need to work again.
In what specific ways do you help contracted security dealers increase their recurring monthly revenue?
Matlock: UCC is constantly bringing new recurring revenue generating services to its alarm dealers. UCC utilizes our Dealer Relations Department to apprise our dealers of these services. They will work with vendors and manufacturers to provide training on these services via both Webinars and in-person training. UCC may be the most proactive central station in the country when it comes to informing dealers of new services and training them on the services. All of these services help its dealers grow their RMR.
Describe your company’s approach to newer technologies/service offerings such as PERS, video monitoring, GPS, energy management, managed access control, etc.
Matlock: First, UCC vets the service and the vendors before offering their services to its dealers. If the vendor is too new and does not have a track record of success, the company will take a “wait-and-see” approach before considering them to be a vendor to UCC. UCC personnel will generally use the proposed service and gain an understanding of the product or service in advance. Regarding the services you mentioned, PERS has probably the most potential. The company is seeing a huge uptick in the service on a national level and wants to support it in a big way. The company is also seeing a fairly large increase in video monitoring. UCC resells a good deal of energy management services and foresees a big uptick in the future on those services. UCC doesn’t offer any GPS services due to lack of demand. While the company believes that managed access control is a great service, we just don’t have any demand from our dealer base for this service. The company has actually tried to promote it on multiple occasions with no success.
What are your company’s top regulatory, compliance or operational challenges and how are you managing them?
Matlock: As a national company, licensing is by far our No. 1 challenge. We have the required licenses for all states in the U.S. that require licenses. However, requirements are constantly changing, and cities and counties all over the country are constantly adding regulations and requiring licensing per their jurisdictions. We have a person on staff whose job is licensing and compliance, and she is tasked with maintaining our existing licenses and staying abreast of new requirements.
Is there anything else you believe would be of interest to security dealer/integrators?
Matlock: UCC is all about the relationship. We are active in meeting with our dealers, listening to them, polling them on what they need and responding accordingly. In addition, we regularly host events and invite our dealers to attend and have fun with us. We believe that we can deliver the best service in the business and enjoy the relationship. It is a great experience doing business with UCC and we have unusually good relationships with our dealers. We invite dealers and integrators to come to San Antonio and tour our state-of-the-art facility, and meet our people and make an informed decision on what is best for them and their customers.