False Alarm Reduction Is Customary at Custom Alarm

Proven techniques that cut false alarms and police dispatches are business as usual for Custom Alarm. The company’s assimilation of practices like two-call verification and following up on all false alarms helped it earn the 6th annual Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award. Find out what makes its outstanding false alarm management program tick.

[IMAGE]12230[/IMAGE]There are three other essential factors contributing to Custom Alarm’s high standard of alarm monitoring: dispatcher training, owning and operating its own facility, and its familial culture.

Besides the availability of training resources discussed regarding installers and technicians, all of the company’s dispatchers and supervisors are now required to complete the Central Station Alarm Association’s (CSAA) 40-hour online certification course. Dispatchers also have SIA certifications that are valid nationwide.

Having its monitoring center located within the company’s headquarters helps Custom Alarm produce a well coordinated effort. Managers of sales, operations and customer services/dispatch team can interface on a regular basis. “We see a distinct advantage to being one company working together in one building,” Brinkman says. “If there is an issue everyone is easily accessible to help resolve it; it particularly helps to have the salesperson involved. Every department brings a different perspective on how to best take care of the customer.”

While size or ownership should not be determinants of the energy devoted to an effective alarm management program, there can be something to be said about a smaller, family friendly atmosphere. “As a smaller security company with our own central station in a concentrated market we are able to work with the key people in law enforcement in the communities we service,” says Brinkman. “Virtually all of our dispatchers know our ‘regular’ customers, and the customers know our dispatchers by name. We are able to build rapport and loyalty.”  

Clients, Police Must Be in the Loop

Relationship building is a pervasive theme underlying effective alarm management. This applies to both customers and responding law enforcement. It’s about open, ongoing communication to address their individual needs and keep them engaged.

Immediately following an installation, Custom Alarm sends the new customer a welcome E-mail that includes a link to the company’s Web site where they will find common causes of false alarms and reduction tips, and permit information. The link is also embedded in all outbound E-mails and the company’s monthly e-newsletter, which always highlights a specific false alarm reduction tip. Welcome packets that include an alarm system quick guide cheat sheet and a refrigerator magnet with the central station’s phone number are also mailed out.
Printed information on the back of subsequent invoices reinforce the company’s alarm response procedures, tips for reducing false alarms and a note on keeping keyholder lists updated.

[IMAGE]12231[/IMAGE]As demonstrated by the police chief’s comment at the outset, Custom Alarm excels in forging a cordial partnership with local law enforcement. “We have established a great deal of trust on both ends of the relationship,” says Johnson. “Additionally, we are proud of the professional relationships we have with the fire departments.”

As an example of this collaboration in action, the company has agreed with police to immediately dispatch on commercial alarms between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. before contacting a keyholder. This has resulted in quicker dispatches and several apprehensions. In this circumstance, the police department has agreed to waive any false alarm fees that would otherwise be assessed.

In 2007, Custom Alarm got buy-in from fire responders in the development and implementation of a CO detector monitoring procedure. The firm provides those customers with code-protected lockboxes to hold entry keys the fire department can access to avoid having to break down the door.

Custom Alarm also distributes to police and fire departments a monthly alarm report of calls by county. Authorities say these reports help them double check their records.

“In our community, the police response to burglar alarm systems situation is great,” says Brinkman. “We can attribute that to a great relationship that has been built over the years with our local law enforcement. The key is having an open line of communication.”

Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 12 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.



About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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