Big Idea of the Month: Prioritize Proprietary Service for Residential Success
Allstate Security Industries’ Randall Renfroe tells Ron Davis why proprietary solutions and personalized services can win over residential customers.
I’m really proud of Randall Renfroe. He’s the president of Allstate Security Industries in Amarillo, Texas, and the grandson of Dale Elliott, the man who built Allstate into a Texas powerhouse.
Elliott passed away seven years ago, leaving the reins of operating the business to Renfroe. I had met Renfroe a couple of years before, and had known Elliott as a friend and a client for more than 30 years. He was a tough act to follow.
To me, it seemed Renfroe would have more than enough on his plate to accomplish before he could think about actually growing the company to the next level. But he did, magnificently. He took a local alarm company with a strong presence in Amarillo and reimagined what the company could be like for the balance of the decade, and even the next decade.
So when I called and asked him our signature question — “If you had just one really great idea that you could share with alarm dealers everywhere, what would it be?” — I really didn’t expect the answers that he gave me. His insights blew me away.
Personalized Solutions Include Monitoring
“Ron, our industry is changing,” he began. “The residential market has been impacted dramatically by the do-it-yourself companies, mass marketers, direct-selling companies, etc. So when I think of the business that we had back then, I saw a residential component that was hard to predict what was going to happen. And I saw a commercial component that was limited by the size of our market and is having to compete with major nationals and regional integrators. So my idea for residential companies is to protect yourself. And by protect yourself I mean not just use a proprietary panel that you sell, but also have proprietary monitoring that could be customized exclusively for your customers.”
And so, following his own advice, Renfroe set out to find manufacturers and distributors that would help him differentiate the products he sold by customizing them. Then he developed a world-class monitoring facility that was fully capable of customizing all of the responses for a customer to feel they were being monitored by a local company, even though the provider might have been thousands of miles away.
The firm started doing it in Amarillo and later offered it to other dealers including direct competitors. Today, that service is protecting 28,000 customers, with projections of 60,000 by the end of the year, and the sky is the limit from that point forward.
In fact, that element of the business (wholesale monitoring) became the dominant portion of the company, and it is now licensed to do business in 45 states. However, wherever the company is the operators still respond as though their customers are right around the corner. They call them by their name, when applicable, and they do other things to personalize the service.
Capitalize on Demand for Commercial Video
Allstate didn’t stop there; company leadership took a hard look at the commercial side of their business and recognized how integral video was going to be to proprietary and personalized security services. It was here that Renfroe articulated the second portion of his answer to my question, as it relates to the commercial sector.
“Make sure video is integrated into your product line and wherever applicable make sure that monitoring video is exactly as good as the services on the residential side,” he says. And that’s what Allstate has been doing.
In Amarillo alone, the company recently aided 33 apprehensions during a month-long period, and management anticipates they will have a significant number, certainly more than 100, during the balance of the year. The police departments locally are thrilled; the bad guys, not so much. Renfroe? Couldn’t be happier!
As I mentioned, I couldn’t be prouder of Renfroe. He has become the manager he always wanted to be. On his desk sits a marble paperweight inscribed, “The common denominator of success is doing the things that failures don’t like to do.” I gave that plaque to Renfroe’s grandfather almost 40 years ago, and now it’s there to remind Renfroe of the difference between success and failure.
For Renfroe, there is little patience for even a small failure, and seemingly, great capacity for unlimited success. Before I hung up with Renfroe, thinking we were through, he commented about a weight loss program that he had been on, dropping more than 150 pounds.
I will bet somewhere in Renfroe’s office is a recording of a talk that self-help guru Earl Nightingale made famous. It was called the “Strangest Secret,” and the secret is nothing more than thinking and acting as though you were the person you wanted to be. Renfroe wanted to be successful, thinner, healthier … and look what happened!
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