Best of the Best: A Bates With Destiny

Bates Security is finding first-rate customer service, quality personnel, savvy management, smart marketing and industry involvement are making the Kentucky-based company destined for greatness. Freshly rebranded and on a growth fast track, this SSI 2012 Installer of the Year is already well on its way.

Call it a Bates-and-switch. Putting a positive spin on a familiar phrase, fast-rising installation and service firm ADR Security Services spent 2011 rebranding itself as Bates Security. Adopting the namesake of the family that acquired the business in 1984 when it was known as Sonitrol of Lexington, Bates’ banner year not only included a marketing blitz but also substantial growth and overall operational excellence. Those efforts have earned the firm SSI’s 2012 Installer of the Year (Small to Midsize company, <150 employees).

“We are a ‘big fish in a small pond’ and get a lot of referral business,” says company President William “Sonny” Bates, a former Dallas police officer who with wife Pat bought the business nearly three decades ago, and whose sons Jeremy and Bryan now hold managerial positions. “A core business practice is to provide good customer service and continually improve that service. This allows us to have a great reputation.”

Indeed although the name of the business may be new, the association its 4,400+ commercial and residential Central and Northern Kentucky customers have with the company is integrity, safety and being well taken care of. That high level of service has helped Bates Security and its nearly 60 employees realize annualized growth of more than 16% the past five years, with 2012 revenues projected at $8.2 million. 

Last year’s brand reboot included unveiling a new logo, Web site, signs, decals, stationery, van wraps and other marketing materials. In addition, press releases were circulated to print and online media outlets, and information pushed through social networking channels. At the same time, Bates made a number of acquisitions and also doubled its organic sales numbers.

Join us for a close-up of a winning security business that — in the shadows of horseracing’s world-famous Kentucky Derby — is a thoroughbred in its own right.  

Using Technology to ‘Wow’ Customers

Bates Security’s guiding principle is, “Do what’s right for the customer,” says Sonny. “If we make sure our customers are well taken care of, deliver our services in a quality way, resolve any concerns quickly and efficiently, and always communicate well with them, then we are doing a good job — one of which we can be proud.”<p>Bates Security GM Jeremy Bates (left) accepts the 2012 Installer of the Year award from Honeywell’s Rich Simonetti.</p>

Although serving the customer is a mission deeply ingrained throughout the organization, Bates has a dedicated Customer Service Center (CSC) at its Lexington, Ky., headquarters. The team is responsible for aligning, scheduling and prioritizing resources. Two customer service reps work primarily in the field to provide training and other assistance. An ongoing goal is continually — and literally — “wowing” customers.

“One of the ways we keep our employees motivated is through our ‘Wow!’ program,” says Jeremy, general manager. “We like to recognize employees for doing a good job and providing great customer service at our quarterly company-wide meetings. After describing the event or circumstance, we award the individual with a ‘Wow!’ button.” 

In addition to tremendous effort, Bates Security leverages technology, such as SedonaOffice, to enhance efficiencies and provide improved service in just about every area. The firm also utilizes a GPS software program to track its installation and service vehicles to better facilitate timely response. The CSC and technicians from the field can interface real-time with Bates’ monitoring partners (C.O.P.S. Monitoring and Sonitrol of Southwest Ohio) to swiftly resolve customer needs. Online services allow customers to request service, change codes, access and data, pay bills, access alarm permit information, etc. 

“We always listen to our customers’ concerns,” says Bryan, sales manager. “We strive to find an answer and explain it to the customer so they understand what happened and why it happened. We strongly believe in satisfying our customers no matter the cost.” 

An example of Bates’ service in action is a follow-up phone call to every customer after any incident in which authorities have been dispatched to that location. Even though Bates uses third-party monitoring, the company has found the procedure helps it stay in close touch with customers and affords the opportunity to address lingering questions or issues.

“We recently had a new customer who was scared to use her alarm system even though the installer had shown her how,” says Olivia Duval, CSC manager. “We had a customer service rep go onsite and teach her how to use the system. Letting the customer physically take part in the training until she was comfortable took the fear of using it away. She was very grateful.”

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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