Installing vehicle security systems can increase revenue and offers an extra service to prospects an

If you’re looking for new ways to diversify and expand, vehicle security might be an obvious choice. You have a built-in clientele of homes and businesses where you’ve already installed security.

While vehicle thefts have declined 4 percent nationally from 1994 to 1995, there still were about 1.5 million vehicle thefts in the U.S. in 1995, according to the 1995 FBI Uniform Crime Reports.

“The nature of home and car alarms is that people usually don’t come shopping for either until they get broken into,” says Gary Ziegler, owner of Black Dog Integrated Systems in Tulsa, Okla. Sixty percent of his business is auto security.

Vehicle security business is becoming increasingly competitive and installing it requires knowing the schematics of every vehicle you touch.

Has Offering Vehicle Security Been Successful for Dealers?

For Glenn Thomas, owner of Wireman Security Systems in Simi Valley, Calif., providing vehicle security in addition to home and commercial alarms has definitely helped him build both sides of his business.

Thomas sells most of his vehicle alarm systems for about $500. A basic system generally includes a kill system, shock detector, protected openings, including hood and trunk, a door lock controller and trunk pop, and concealed installation. One of the most important features included, according to Thomas, is the wiring. It’s a loom wiring that matches the factory wiring. Wireman also hides the alarm brain.

Vehicle security installation is one way to get in the door and install a home security system. “I usually do a car, then my client sees my truck, which is a rolling billboard, and they notice I do homes as well,” says Thomas.

Ziegler of Black Dog Integrated Systems hasn’t had the same experience. “If a house gets broken into, it doesn’t mean they’re going to spend money on a car alarm,” he says. “There’s a little bit of overlap but not as much as I had hoped.”

Alarm Competitors Include Car Dealers, Manufacturers

Vehicle security installers compete with car manufacturers and car dealers. “Car manufacturers are trying to keep us out,” says Warren Sullivan, owner of Ace Electronics in Pittsburgh, Pa.

“I’ve lost business to people with new vehicles because they [manufacturers] have told consumers that they can void their warranties.”

According to Sullivan, there is a law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that prohibits the invalidation of a warranty due to the addition of accessory equipment.

Car dealers have the advantage of adding a vehicle security system to the cost of a new car and attaching it to the payments. “I don’t have the opportunity to get that customer because now they are looking at a system with no out-of-pocket expenses,” says Sullivan.

Vehicle Security Installers Must Study Car Schematics

“It’s a whole different ball game,” says Ziegler. “We’ve never had an installer who could do both home and auto.

Thomas agrees, “A car is a lot more difficult than homes and businesses. It requires an extensive knowledge of electronics and of the vehicles you’re working on. When we do a new vehicle, the first thing I’ve got to do is go to the schematics and study the car. I usually study the vehicle for about an hour.

“The automobile is the worst environment for electronics. It can be excessively hot, or excessively cold. There’s moisture and vibration. If you don’t install that system properly, and I mean properly, you will have nothing but headaches,” says Sullivan.

Correct Tools, Trained Installers Are Essential

All agree that choosing the right equipment is equally important. Buy equipment that is well-known and get recommendations from others.

Then there are the installers to consider. Ziegler says, “If installers are certified through the Mobile Electronic certification program, I pay them more.” He took the test himself and admits it was the hardest test he has ever taken.

There’s a lot to learn and things are constantly changing. There also are sensors, shock protecting devices and kill switches. The buzzword though seems to be convenience, which is why keyless entry, remote start and trunk releases are so popular.

Today, car alarms, like home alarms, are zoned. “We can even control the person’s home alarm from their car alarm transmitter,” says Ziegler.

Some things just don’t change. While dealers are deciding which directions to diversify and expand, technology is already taking the next step and starting to do it for them.

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