Comtronics’ Success in DIY Market Complementing Traditional Business

Discover the ROI, sales compensation and go-to-market retail and online strategies that are giving the company a competitive edge.

“If you can’t beat them, join them.”

That is the idiom to which veteran security integrator John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics in Jackson, Mich., subscribes to in terms of addressing the do-it-yourself (DIY) and monitor-it-yourself (MIY) smart home security market.

Campau and his team have adroitly bundled a Honeywell-based “Comtronics Interactive Home Security Package.” The initiative includes a slew of creative ad campaigns with a defined retail, in-home and online go-to-market strategy, live demo display kits for the sales team and rejiggering their sales compensation plan to attack the DIY/MIY markets head-on with a highly competitive (and profitable) solution.

“We believe firmly that DIY is part of our future and not a fad. MIY is part of this too … we let people be more interactive with their system,” says Campau. But even though he is bullish on self-installation, Campau does not believe it will “take over” his traditional professional alarm installation business, or anyone else’s for that matter. He says even a newbie security company has “a strong industry future because he has to have trucks and technicians. We believe this is only going to complement our traditional business.”

What’s in the Package?

Comtronics has been in business since 1958 serving the state of Michigan. The company is already unique compared to most other security integrators because Campau also owns 12 Verizon Wireless stores across the state. Those retail customers are the primary targets for Comtronics’ DIY offering. But Campau insists this market opportunity is available for traditional security integrators even if they do not have a retail operation.

“This is driving business we’ve never had before; it’s driving opportunity we’ve never had before. Every DIY sale is another kit we would have never had in the market without this program,” he states.

This is driving business we’ve never had before; it’s driving opportunity we’ve never had before. Every DIY sale is another kit we would have never had in the market without this program. – John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics

So what exactly is it that Comtronics is offering? The free kit includes three door contacts, one motion sensor, one key-fob and a Honeywell L5200 alarm panel. The kit is housed in a specially made retail-oriented white cardboard box, about the size of briefcase, emblazoned with powerful marketing images depicting the functionality of the system (opening the garage door, lighting control, home security, climate control, etc.). The box has a handle so it can be carried just like a briefcase.

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Inside the box is a custom foam insert housing the devices, an inside-lid sticker describing each device, and additional instructions and internal brochures. The system is preassembled and features include GSM Radio, WiFi and Z-Wave communications, a 24-hour battery, desk mount and a transformer prewired to the panel. The store also includes individual devices available as add-ons, such as additional motion sensors, thermostats, lighting control modules and IP cameras.

Inside each retail store is also an attractive demo display table that allows prospective customers to physically touch and feel the equipment. Every one of Comtronics’ 90 salespeople in the Verizon stores is trained (and compensated) for conducting demos.

DIY customers are required to sign a two-year monitoring agreement at $45/ month. The company is still fleshing out its exact MIY strategy, but among the options would be to charge a price point that covers the equipment cost (approximately $500) and require MIY customers to sign a contract for at least $15 per month (the minimum required to cover monthly Total Connect fees from Honeywell). Campau worked closely with alarm industry legal expert and SSI columnist Ken Kirschenbaum of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum to develop the contracts.

According to Anne Walker Campau, executive vice president and general counsel, getting a contract signed even for a client who is refusing monitored security is vital.

“There always must be a contract,” she notes. “That puts all the liability and responsibility back on them.” Those MIY clients would then be methodically communicated with by Comtronics, revealing data about what times of year and times of the day homes are most likely broken in to, etc., to attempt to draw them into a monitoring contract.

Continue to the next page to learn about Comtronics’ two-phase go-to-market strategy and its calculating costs/ROI

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About the Author


Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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