How Security Pros Can Incorporate DIY Systems

Selling DIY security systems isn’t as easy as you may think, but there are various ways to include it.

How Security Pros Can Incorporate DIY Systems

More and more, I talk to alarm dealers who tell me that they’re considering adding DIY (do-it-yourself ) alarm systems to their services.

The motivation factors vary, but the two most common seem to be: 1) they see DIY as their competition, and 2) they think they can just create a flyer or add a blurb to their website stating that they now offer DIY and the orders will just flow in.

Then, all they have to do is slap a label on a box and ship it out. Easy! “What do you think?” they ask. Here’s what I tell them. First, I can say with a degree of confidence, merely placing a “special” on your website for DIY won’t drive DIY alarm system buyers to your site.

You’ll first need to hire an SEO (search engine optimization) specialist and then hope you crack the top 10 search results for DIY alarm systems. To get the top placements, you’ll be competing with the biggest names in the business, which are spending millions of dollars on “pay per click” campaigns.

Big DIY companies that are generating eye-popping sales are doing so at a very steep cost. Not only from the web, but other forms of advertising. It is not cheap to run prime-time TV spots or to hire celebrities to endorse your services on the most listened to talk radio shows across the country.

Others generate sales by running massive call centers with outbound calling campaigns to sell their systems. In other words, it takes a great deal of effort, time and money to generate DIY sales.

Their Installation, but Your Tech Support

The good news is all the advertising from the large national DIY companies creates awareness of the need for security which drives sales to the entire industry, including to traditional alarm dealers. They will need to adapt to the changing landscape, which may include offering services on a shorter term or having a DIY solution that you can offer to prospects who are shopping your services against other DIY offerings.

This way, you’re able to appease one-off prospects and still stick to your core competency of professionally installing and servicing alarm systems. Speaking of “sticking to your core competency,” the other big issue about DIY is that when the customer becomes the installer, you become the tech support.

Just like Home Depot and Lowe’s didn’t put builders, plumbers and painters out of business, DIY isn’t going to make a significant and lasting impact on professional alarm companies.

You’re not going to be able to give your DIY customers the toll-free number to your manufacturer’s tech support. You’ll have to give them the number to your tech support to answer questions about installation, programming, and issues with the app, questions on “what ifs,” “how tos” and so on.

In addition, you’ll have to develop processes and allocate resources for preprogramming and pretesting, plus fulfillment and order tracking. Providing a solution that is easy to install will win the day. If the customer has to do all the work for programming and setup, they may give up and never put the system online, which means you’ll never earn the RMR or establish an ongoing relationship.

Room for Professional & DIY to Peacefully Coexist

The electronic security industry is now serving a broader audience and giving more folks what they demand. DIY appears to be taking off because it seems there’s a large segment of the population that places value on convenience, control, connectivity and the other things that now come with electronic security but who were never likely to buy an alarm system from a traditional alarm company; they’re just DIYers in general.

Otherwise, wouldn’t they have done so already? I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. Just like Home Depot and Lowe’s didn’t put builders, plumbers and painters out of business, DIY isn’t going to make a significant and lasting impact on professional alarm companies.

In fact, not only will most commercial accounts generally continue to rely on a professionally installed system, I predict many residential DIY customers will eventually graduate to a professionally installed system as their priorities change. For instance, a young professional living in an apartment often has limited options since many traditional alarm companies won’t even deal with renters.

So, they start with a small DIY system for convenience and peace of mind. However, when they mature, buy a house and start a family, many will not have the time to fiddle with DIY and will likely insist on a professionally installed and monitored system.Therefore, for the most part, I think DIY and professionally installed systems are two separate segments of our industry.

I can’t think of a case where a company has been highly successful at both. Time and money spent on one is a minute and a dollar that can’t be spent on the other. My point isn’t to discourage traditional alarm dealers from trying new things, but rather to share with them the challenges I believe come with the territory.

Offering DIY takes significant commitment and a great deal of money to truly succeed. From where I sit, it doesn’t seem that getting into the DIY market “half way” is worthwhile; it tends to be an “all or nothing” proposition. It might be better to start a separate company to sell DIY versus stealing resources from your core business.

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About the Author


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

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One response to “How Security Pros Can Incorporate DIY Systems”

  1. Sonja says:

    Thanks for the excellent manual

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