PERS: The Perfect RMR Opportunity

To accommodate varying customer needs, Caldwell sells Visonic’s Amber solutions, a product line that can be easily adjusted to fit any end user’s requirements and budget. AmberBasic is the standard personal medical alert system, and AmberSelect offers a comprehensive lifestyle and safety management solution with the option to add tele-health for Bluetooth-enabled vital signs monitoring. 

The PERS solution provides an emergency calling function with built-in two-way voice functionality and a speakerphone. Calls can be directed to a central station or private telephone. In addition to producing alerts when specific dangers are sensed, the unit fosters independence by providing daily activity and medication reminders and inactivity monitoring.

Follow-up customer service is all in a day’s work for Caldwell, and subscribers who started out resistant come around and find comfort knowing help is just the press of a button away. Caldwell checks in on his customers when monitoring reports show they have not been regularly testing their systems.

“Given the age of my customers, they can forget, so I call on them to be sure everything is OK,” he says. All of Caldwell’s medical accounts are handled by Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS) of Longwood, Fla. “They’re taking great care of me, have online data management accounts, and provide a high level of service.”

Central Station Partnership Is Key

Partnering with a reliable monitoring station is obviously a critical customer service component in PERS. Several are leading the way in this arena, including CMS, Rapid Response Monitoring and Chicago-based EMERgency24. It’s a fast-growing market for the central stations.

“We expect PERS to represent a significant portion of our revenue within five years,” says Kevin McCarthy, national sales manager for EMERgency24. To encourage entry into the market, EMERgency24 is offering free customized marketing materials to dealers that educate end users about the benefits of PERS.

“All alarm dealers have to do to launch this service in their area — or nationwide – is inform their security-minded subscribers about PERS by mailing the series of three letter-sized flyers with customer invoices,” McCarthy adds. “Alarm dealers now have the opportunity to expand their service offering with a program that can be marketed directly to existing customers, as well as other security-minded people across the entire United States.”

According to McCarthy, dealers that offer PERS will be able to build a RMR stream with minimal service. “F
or most installations, all that’s needed is a working electrical outlet and a live telephone line,” he says. “Also, because installation is simple enough that senior citizens often do it themselves, EMERgency24 will even take receipt of the hardware from the dealer, preprogram it and drop-ship to the end user for a small fee.”

Independents Can Prosper Too

For the past two decades, PERS was marketed almost exclusively to the consumer by national companies. But alarm dealers now realize PERS is a natural extension of their existing security businesses, McCarthy says. “One advantage for independent alarm dealers entering the PERS market is that they’ve already created a local brand,” he says. “Plus, their existing customer base will help get them started because everyone knows someone who could use this service.”

Rapid Response, MacDonnell reports, is seeing significant double-digit growth in PERS monitoring accounts. They dispatch all over the country and in Bermuda, and the operators in their Life Safety Monitoring group are specially trained to handle PERS calls. Rapid Response requires all of its operators to have a two-year degree or equivalent military experience. They must pass drug testing, reference checks and three weeks of in-house training.

“After that, we select the best of them for the Life Safety group and send them on to EMT training,” MacDonnell explains. “We vector all the calls that come in on PERS and tele-medicine to our Life Safety Monitoring group because they’re specifically trained to handle all those incoming calls. Our operators stay on the phone with the subscriber after calling first responders until help arrives.”

Although privacy laws preclude monitoring personnel from dispensing medical advice or instruction, EMT-trained operators do have a better idea of what the person on the other end of the phone is going through, MacDonnell explains.

“We can also patch in the responder so they can hear what we’re hearing and arrive better prepared to assist,” he says.

Sales of PERS products indicate that the market is indeed growing at a steady pace. “We are definitely seeing increased demand for PERS products as more dealers are recognizing the revenue and growth potential in this sector,” notes James Rothstein, senior vice president of Tri-Ed Distribution.

Caldwell is a case in point. Although some of the dynamics are different, the mantra for success is pretty much the same.

“My motto is that I want to compete and I approach PERS customers like any other. I find people who are valid prospects for my services, and offer personalized service,” he says. “I want them to know they can trust me. And that personal service is my largest competitive advantage.”

Mark Ingram is vice president of sales, Visonic Americas,located in Bloomfield, Conn. He can be contacted at (860) 243-0833, ext. 214 or


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