Tech Talk: No RMR? Are You Serious?

In the security business, you need to provide a product and service, just like many other service companies — but don’t forget about RMR.

Tech Talk: No RMR? Are You Serious?

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Many years ago, I, as with anyone starting a new business, took a close look at becoming an alarm dealer. I could not believe my eyes.

In this business, you needed to provide a product and service, just like many other service companies — but there was one big difference.

I would provide the alarm system and have it monitored remotely by a third-party company for a nice markup. And here’s the kicker: A public service, such as fire and police, would provide the response service to my customers’ alarms!

In the meantime, I would continue to collect recurring monthly revenue (RMR) for my monitoring services. What a deal!

When I recently saw some of the statistics about alarm companies not taking advantage of monitoring and other services, I thought about tennis. Yes, tennis.

Some of you who follow professional tennis might remember tennis star John McEnroe. He would often confront the judges on questionable line calls, and his famous comment to the judge was, “You cannot be serious!”

Exploring Survey Data

Looking back at some SSI survey data on RMR, I felt the same way when I saw alarm companies not providing any RMR services. A recent 2023 survey found that 22% of residential customers provide no RMR.

When I saw this, I could only respond, “You cannot be serious!”

Additionally, the survey pointed out the average dealer RMR is $257,576 for residential accounts and $393,939 for commercial accounts. It’s simple: If you do not have an RMR program, you’re missing the boat big time.

I hope to use the rest of this article to take a closer look at the many RMR opportunities available to today’s diversified alarm dealer. Even small dealers have many opportunities to grow in this high-tech market. Remember: If I did it as a one-man startup, you can do it, too!

Exploring RMR Opportunities

Burglary is a historical and obvious choice for 24-hour alarm monitoring. DIY smartphone monitoring has many pitfalls when it comes to dispatch speed and accuracy. Wherever you look today, companies are selling warranties and maintenance services. So, why not you?

Fire and life safety monitoring should be a no-brainer. Firefighters always say that the first five minutes of a fire are the most critical. Explain to your sales prospects and customers how critical, fast and accurate professional monitoring is.

Alarm Systems as a Service (ASaaS). Customers often do not like to purchase products outright. Paying for a service call and equipment repair can be unpredictable. These days, many like predictable monthly fees for their equipment, maintenance and monitoring.

Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS) represent a great opportunity to get RMR with little installation and equipment cost. Again, professional monitoring should be an easy sale to close. When you install a burglar alarm and fire system, do you ever inform the new customer that you also provide PERS? Remember, they have parents. Make it part of your RMR checklist. You should also consider PERS programs focused on aging in place.

Water Leak Monitoring should be a biggie on your list. Did you know that, according to insurance companies, the number-one property-loss situation is not fire but is, instead, water damage?

Remote Video Monitoring is the hottest thing going right now. Every day, a new algorithm is introduced to help with false or missed video alarms. Explain to the customer that today’s professional alarm monitoring services have direct connections not only to the central station, but also, more importantly, to the police and fire dispatch center.

Panic/Duress: We are all pretty familiar with commercial holdup buttons, but what about residential? Home invasions are on the rise, and they’re a concern for many. Strategically and responsibly placed panic buttons in a home might be something the customer is interested in.

Access Control as a Service (ACaaS) is another exciting service you can provide your customers. Now, with cloud technology, customers and dealers alike can have a reliable, secure method to control and monitor access-control devices.

Maintenance Service from afar is an added convenience and a win-win for both the customer and the alarm dealer. Many systems now allow the alarm company to be notified of system failures before the customer even knows about them. In many cases, technical issues can be resolved remotely, never requiring a service truck roll or a tech.

ASAP to PSAP Alarm Communications. Central monitoring stations are now using software called Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) to send verified alarm reporting signals over a secured network to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).

This ASAP to PSAP automated communication system allows for quick and accurate alarm dispatch to public services, such as police and fire. This is another good argument for your professional monitoring services versus amateur DIY 911 cell phone calls.

I hope that I’ve convinced some of you of the financial value of providing services that can both increase your RMR and provide new and exciting services to your customers. If you’re not providing them, your competition probably is!

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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