Why LVC Is SSI’s Installer of the Year (Large Company)
Hailing from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it seems as if LVC is doing thousands of things right. Excelling both strategically and in execution, the business is enjoying the perks of 20% growth and SSI’s Installer of the Year Award.
High Standards. High expectations. High expertise. High morale. High performance. High growth. How ironic those virtues and accomplishments embody a security integration firm known as Low Voltage Contractors (LVC).
And as the company celebrates its 35th year in 2017 while being recognized with Security Sales & Integration’s Installer of the Year Award (Large Company) it’s time for high-fives all around.
With a strategy centered around a vision of technology, trends and providing clients the very best in products and services, Minneapolis-based LVC has built an impressive business and reputation.
With core commercial security offerings that include intrusion detection, access control, video surveillance, biometrics, analytics and duress systems, the integrator has placed a premium on hiring and training top talent while making ongoing investments in training and certifications for employees.
In addition to its installation divisions, LVC’s service department accounts for a large percentage of the firm’s revenue.
The past few years in particular have seen LVC on a growth fast track, with in excess of 20% year-over-year gains. The business is projected to eclipse $40 million in 2017.
A few key transactions are at the heart of LVC’s rapid ascent. In 2009, it expanded to the Arizona market where its business there tripled in size.
In 2011, a new division was launched to extend product offerings to structured cabling, A/V, phone systems, sound masking and paging, among others.
In 2015, divisions were added for fire sprinkler service and industrial suppression. In 2016 the acquisition of fire protection firm J.N. Johnson rounded out LVC’s offering as a true, full-service contractor able to provide life safety, security and communications solutions.
Earlier this year, the integrator bought Champion Fire Protection out of North Central Minnesota. Today, in addition to its headquarters, LVC serves local, regional and national accounts through offices in Rochester, Hibbing, International Falls, Crosby and Alexandria, Minn.; Eau Claire, Wis.; and Tempe, Ariz.
“We work to engage conversation and collaboration in executing our strategic plans and with frequent checkpoints identify areas for modification, improvement and adjustment,” says LVC President Bert Bongard. “At the end of the day, we just want to do what’s right. We want our clients’ protection and technology systems needs addressed and satisfied, we want engaged employees and we want to be the best at what we do.”
Sure sounds like an award-winning formula. Read on to find out how LVC wowed Installer of the Year judges by scoring slam dunks in the key criteria areas of: exceptional customer service; business practices and marketing strategies that ensure success; properly training company personnel; motivating employees; giving back to the community; and contributing to the betterment of the security industry.
Customer Is King
LVC President Bert Bongard: There are several nuances to our service approach to clients that goes beyond simply completing the task at hand to achieve client satisfaction.
Additional components like being respectful, doing more than is asked, being on time, looking sharp, communicating challenges and results, offering additional options and solutions, consulting and collaborating for the best result are just a few of the components to our service approach.
Additionally, we take the time to recognize that our clients are partners, and we invest in our relationships with them; finding ways to show that we value them as partners and not just an account.
From simple changes to complex redesigns and retrofits, LVC values and embraces each challenge. We thrive on putting plans into place that deliver optimal, long-term solutions.
We evaluate our customer service through repeat business, expanded services, testimonials and open lines of communication.
We hear what we are doing right and we also hear when we need to make improvements. In addition to loyalty, we view a company’s use of LVC for multiple systems as a measure of satisfaction.
Our project management team sends a final email at project completion to ensure satisfaction, which usually generates a reply testimonial. If something goes wrong, we address it and make corrections as quickly as possible.
Bongard: Each year, all departments and their team members build individual and collective business plans and strategy documents.
In this planning process, we vet all aspects of revenue generation, profit influencers and indicators, performance management, industry innovation and long-term potential.
We also assess areas we lack or need improvement — and where we need to grow. Our business plan is built in segments, each area identifying what is critical for their growth and success and then aggregated into a comprehensive plan.
We look at areas where redundancies can become efficiencies, where efficiencies can be replicated, where policy and process can affect profitability and areas we can enhance to provide better service.
Our business plans are active, flexible and strategic guidelines. Our goal is to understand how each area of our company sees their opportunity to establish and grow and what actions, tools, and resources are required to do so.
Our sales manager holds consistent meetings with each member of the sales team to understand their successes, challenges, opportunities and progress.
We also meet with our operations team to understand performance to expectations, project success and customer satisfaction.
Our goal is to ensure that clients’ expectations are clearly stated, understood and successfully met.
With recent acquisitions and business changes, we are looking to expand our national presence in all disciplines we pursue, in addition to expanding our base of business with current clients.”
Grooming Sales Stars
LVC Sales Manager Keith Kranz: In collaboration with the sales team, a marketing budget and plan are prepared every year.
We evaluate the successes and lessons in previous years and decide to continue, revamp or drop initiatives. We also look at new initiatives based on areas we see opportunities for growth.
We use a variety of techniques to support our sales initiatives that include both traditional and nontraditional methods. In a traditional context, it’s much of what one might expect: brochures, line cards, rack cards — supporting each area of our business.
As we have expanded into regional markets, most are in communities with a local mindset, we’ve taken a more traditional approach.
We’ve joined chambers, regularly attend meetings and events and network heavily, volunteer on committees to build visibility and brand awareness.
Radio advertising has been another successful vehicle for supporting our sales initiatives. We change our spots monthly to promote various aspects of our business.
As a result, we’ve attracted new clients, regained clients and get feedback from our existing clients, generally in the form of “we didn’t know you did that.”
Lunch-and-learn events have been another way to support the sales efforts. On occasion, we will bring in a product or subject matter expert to address a technology item or area of need that multiple clients are faced with.
This provides a setting where our clients, as a peer group, can gain ideas or form a strategy to address the challenges they are facing.
Right People on Bus
Bongard: We recruit, identify and vet all talent we consider adding to our team. We use local print, electronic media, employee network and word of mouth.
We vet by digging into resumes, experience and education along with requiring everyone to complete a personality assessment.
There are a variety of reasons people enjoy working for LVC, and it is demonstrated by years of service. Many of the core employees who helped build our company are still part of the company today.
We have worked hard to build a dedicated team, always putting the right players on that team. The upfront investment has proven to be a crucial factor in selecting the right employees for our company and culture.
To work at LVC, you need to have an entrepreneurial mind, be mentally tough and acute, hardworking and constantly evolving.
Employees at LVC are on a perpetual quest to be better informed and equipped to solve problems. A natural sense of curiosity drives our team.
All our field people have completed or are currently enrolled in the Minnesota Joint Apprenticeship Training Program.
The JATC is a three-year educational classroom and hands-on program that teaches electronics, safety, multiple technology platforms and prepares students to take their Minnesota Power Limited technical license test.
All our technicians hold this license. We also have multiple people holding NICET and BICSI certifications. We host in-house training programs where we identify one or two employees who can serve as subject matter experts on topics ranging from “how to use Excel” to specific technology topics.
Doing so allows all employees in our company to be both students and teachers in their peer group. We keep employees motivated by acting on some very basic practices:
- Communicating fair and reasonable expectations
- Providing employees with the right tools and training needed to perform their jobs
- Asking for feedback and input and keeping an open mind
- Trusting each member
- Correcting mistakes when they happen and addressing the source issue
- Expecting accountability from all employees for performance
- Recognizing, acknowledging, praising and rewarding team members
We also have several events each year that allow for personal interaction, communication and celebration. LVC employees are rewarded for providing excellent customer service and for their time with the company.
Model Corporate Citizens
Kranz: LVC has a long history of community service. Throughout the history of our company, we have been involved in financially supporting many organizations in addition to employee involvement supporting causes that have personal significance.
Another way LVC keeps employees motivated and fulfilled is by promoting opportunities to give back to charitable organizations.
An annual tradition is our Ronald McDonald House Charity holiday gift drive. Our employees who donate money and donations receive a company match.
We have a longstanding partnership with a national retail department store that contributes additional discounts to be used for the holiday gifts for families.
Our commitment to the integrator community is a companywide initiative. Numerous employees have participated in PSA roundtables and served on committees.
We have helped produce integrator community resources such as a sales playbook, marketing guide, guest video training, product evaluation tool, training video and guest contributions on the PSA Blog.
One of the best things we do for the integrator community is assisting them across the country in solving technical or operational issues. We provide support and resources and serve as a partner to the community, helping them be more successful.
BEST OF THE BEST: See runners-up Protection 1, Select Security & Vector Security here.
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