Shopping for a dealer program might be likened a little bit to undertaking a home improvement project. Embarking on the process can be a daunting proposition. When executed thoroughly it can be time consuming, demanding work that requires a business owner to consider numerous details and possibilities in order to achieve a successful result.
SSI spoke with several proprietors of authorized dealer programs to learn more about their offerings, as well as find out about the qualities they look for in potential members to build successful partnerships. Also consulted were two industry experts who lend their advice on what information dealers and integrators will want to ascertain in order to protect their business interests when entering into a dealer program agreement.
What follows will equip independent security dealers to properly research and understand all the dynamics of a healthy, stable and growing relationship with their program providers — be it manufacturer, national dealer, third-party monitoring station, financial services specialist or other partner.
Getting the Right Training, Services to Match Your Needs
With the right partnership small, entry-level installing security contractors can find the training they need to help lay the foundation of their business. A well-rounded dealer program makes available not only industry-based training, it should also provide comprehensive training that covers fundamental business operations, creation costs, sales, marketing, funding, installation and field service policies.
Some programs give dealers the freedom to operate under their own brand, while others offer their members the marketing power of a nationally recognized company. They can provide such customizable marketing materials as contracts, direct-mail pieces, apparel and vehicle wraps.
Dealers and integrators may want to consider programs that offer ancillary events to their members as a means to receive education about key industry trends as well as technological developments. One example is Monitronics’ quarterly Monitronics Experience (MoniX), an event for members to network with each other, tour the operation’s headquarters, and take part in a private tradeshow with manufacturers, distributors and other service providers.
“The Monitronics Experience is a real key to our program and our partnership with the new dealers that we bring on board every year,” says Bruce Mungiguerra, Monitronics vice president of operations. “We spend a lot of time and a lot of effort to ensure that our new dealers get off on the right foot.”
Along with the up-front cash from sold accounts, dealer programs are available that provide the option for members to keep a portion of their portfolio — making those monitored contract accounts — to collect and keep recurring monthly revenue (RMR). Some programs allow customizable pricing that can create a desirable package for every customer. There’s also flexibility for dealers to choose which products they want to sell from a variety of leading vendors and services to their customers.
The interactive services boom — the ability for homeowners to remotely manage their alarm, lights, locks and thermostats with Web-enabled mobile devices — has revolutionized the convenience dealers can offer customers in addition to the general peace of mind that comes with owning a security system. Combining those services with two-way voice technology, which provides the ability for central station operators to directly communicate with customers during an alarm event, further increases the quality of accounts dealers can produce and sell.
Curtis Kindred, center, is the owner and president of Dallas-based American Defense Systems. He is a member of Monitronics’ authorized dealer program, which offers customizable marketing templates for sales sheets, brochures and even vehicle wraps.
Added Resources to Support Dealers in the Field
There is a diverse range of support services and assistance available to dealers in some programs. Since licensing and permit requirements vary greatly among jurisdictions, dealers and integrators may want to seek a program that can bolster their awareness to keep customers — and themselves — in accordance with state and local laws.
Another potential benefit is field service knowledge. Dealers can avoid spending money on truck rolls by resolving a high percentage of issues over the phone and/or remote access to a customer’s panel. A strong field service department can provide online tutorials and Webinars on programming and wiring, line seizure and home automation.
It’s also helpful to have access to mobile technology like eContract, which enables dealers to submit contracts to customers via an iPad or other touchscreen devices as soon as the sale is made. Some programs offer apps that help pull and manage homeowner data right in the field and increase effectiveness of various sales strategies such as a door-to-door sales model.
DART or Dealer Automated Real Time services is a proprietary Web-based service that allows Guardian Protection Services’ authorized dealers to quickly upload documents and be paid electronically. The Web-based application was created after gathering feedback from Guardian’s authorized dealers and built to match what they requested, explains the company’s Mary Lynn Moriarity, vice president, marketing.
“The end result is a money-saving and time-saving service for both Guardian and its dealers,” she says. “Instead of physically mailing all of the paper documents to the company, dealers upload them electronically, and Guardian begins processing them more quickly, ultimately paying the dealers more quickly.”
DART also serves as a portal where authorized dealers can access and download marketing and training materials electronically. Another proprietary Web-based service offered by Guardian is STORM, which shows dealers all of their customer service requests and service tickets, allowing them to manage this type of activity from anywhere with Web access.