Standing Tall in a ‘Wild West’ Security Climate

Embrace do-it-yourself security competitors as your chance to stand out.

Every time I pick up an alarm industry trade magazine, it seems that another “nonindustry” entity is entering the electronic security space. We’ve all witnessed the mass assault of telecom giants, cable companies and the like in the electronic security. In addition, several well-known retailers have entered the space. It is reasonable to assume that more are coming, so if you are of the traditional security ilk, be prepared.

For traditional security companies that desire to compete in today’s market, it’s not just about learning new technologies and offering interactive and home automation services to customers and prospects. It takes more than that to stand out in the current “wild west” electronic security industry.

Charge of Competition Unstoppable

I’ve been in this industry just shy of 30 years and I have never seen anything like what I’m seeing today. The floodgates have opened and for the first time in a long time, I believe that market penetration of monitored security systems is going to exponentially increase.

The concept of do-it-yourself (DIY) security is catching like wildfire and this space is going to propel market penetration in a big way. No matter what anyone thinks of DIY systems, their proliferation is like a boulder rolling down a steep slope – you can stand below and curse the boulder but it’s going to roll over you just the same. It is painfully clear that the traditional security system installed by the “carriage trade” alarm dealer is decreasing in popularity.

As I mentioned, competing today is not about being technologically proficient and offering a wide array of services to customers. While that’s important, it’s nowhere near as important as understanding the competition and where the industry is going, embracing these changes and positioning your company to compete.

I hear a lot of complaining about all the new entrants and DIY and so on. It seems many traditional security companies are surrendering to the new paradigm and selling their monitored accounts and calling it a day. That’s unfortunate.

Embrace Mass Awareness and Re-energize

In truth, the opportunity for traditional alarm dealers has not diminished one iota and in fact is better than ever. Market awareness of the need for a monitored security system has never been higher. The industry is riding the wave of multimillions of dollars in advertising deployed to radio and television. The key to success for the traditional security dealer is to understand consumer demand and to understand competition and to be prepared to counter competitive offers.

In addition, alarm dealers need to be prepared to articulate the strengths they bring to the table. Their sales forces need to be retrained to deliver unique value propositions and to focus on real differentiators versus saying, “We do that too.”

Some alarm companies might want to consider rebranding and think more about their public image. If a company wants to be perceived as cutting edge and future oriented, it should be reflected in their logo, advertising materials, van wrapping, Web site, dress and culture. I’m talking about a radical retooling of the company where mindsets are changed and where innovation is rewarded.

I encourage traditional alarm dealers to reinvent themselves and to declare that they are here to stay. Fear of the future and fear of competitive forces is tantamount to being stuck in reverse. The companies that refuse to change and to adapt to the market might as well sell now before they suffer losses to equity. These are strong words, but I encourage traditional alarm dealers to receive them as a rally cry, not a death sentence.

Take a step back, examine your companies. Examine your public image. Examine your competition. If you aren’t closing sales the way you used to, don’t complain, but investigate why and then react and adapt. It may mean hiring someone to recreate an image and bring fresh ideas to the table. Now, more than ever, we all need to be open minded and willing to change the way we do things to maintain success.

About the Author

Contact:

Mark Matlock is Senior Vice President at United Central Control, a division of Lydia Security Monitoring Inc.

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