You've heard it from me, you may have read about it from others in the industry, and now I've listened to a man I truly respect and have known for decades proclaim it as well: "Dealers need to start offering their clients remote services or the telephone companies, cable companies or other competitors will take their customers away."
These are the cautionary words from Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security Group, as he addressed the recent First Alert Professional (FAP) dealer program convention in Scottsdale, Ariz.
I've written about this topic in previous articles and in my blog, but it bears repeating. Technology, remote services and the path of communications are essential elements that need to be discussed and kept at the forefront when selling security and supporting existing clients.
Rothman challenged the hundreds of FAP dealers in attendance at the convention to consider: "If you don't think there is going to be a difference between the digital dial-up version of RMR and the remote services version, I think you better take another look because it's coming and it's coming fast."
This is not about passively offering some additional "cool" gear. This is about educating one client at a time, and working toward gaining and maintaining more clients through the communication and implementation of services they will engage with, want and ultimately need. If a security dealer believes it can be reactive and offer these services only to clients who ask for them, I believe these are the dealers that will end up with a shrinking subscriber base. Why you ask? Because the competition that is getting more sophisticated will approach your clients and sell them before you have a chance to react.
The telecommunication companies, cable companies and many independent dealers are getting smart and aggressive. They are wise to understand that an alarm on a POTS line is an account that has a high probability of attrition. The client who subscribes to services beyond traditional alarm monitoring represents an account that will stay longer because they can appreciate the service they pay for every day rather than waiting for the alarm to trigger.
Engage Clients With New Services
There is no question that two primary factors are driving the current market: broadband and smartphones. The population of broadband subscribers and smartphone users grows exponentially with each passing day. This reality is more than a wakeup call for your business plans in 2012 to market and gain new clients. It is equally (and maybe even more) important when looking forward to how you intend to hold on to your existing clients and maintain and grow that RMR stream.
The security industry has never been adept at going back and touching existing clients to emphasize good customer service or even upselling. The essence of embracing remote services is much more than increasing sales and profits. It's about keeping your existing clients and keeping them engaged in your services. The nice part about this is while doing so, you will increase revenues.
It puzzles me when I hear dealers panic when taking into consideration the notion of "self-monitoring" or how smartphones and automation could have a negative effect on RMR. These concepts are opportunities that many dealers are missing out on. The automation and smartphone interfacing is a wonderful augmentation to what we do.
The hybrid of wireless and IP services, along with mobile devices and our core business of providing monitoring services and comprehensive systems is the great union that will allow the savvy dealer to grow. The opportunity to offer remote services is also promoting the installation of additional devices that directly relates to additional revenue for new clients and add-on sales to existing clients.
Don't be afraid! Understand these services, the connectivity challenges and the market dynamics, and you will persevere better than ever before. I don't believe anyone has a doubt, including my friend Ron Rothman, that the dealers who don't engage will be, sadly, left behind.
Peter Giacalone is President of Giacalone Associates, an independent security consulting firm.