Amherst Strong-Arms False Alarms

Discover the commitment and techniques that allowed Amherst Alarm to break the ice and capture its first Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award.

THANKS TO THE PROACTIVE, conscientious efforts of upstate New York’s Amherst Alarm, police have to shuffle off to fewer false alarms in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. The company’s outstanding alarm signals management has resulted in it capturing the 2016 Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award.

For more than 30 years, Amherst has led by example as an upstanding member of the local business, regional trade association and national security industry communities. At the same time, its professionalism has spurred growth that has the firm about to break ground on a new $3 million headquarters that will expand its operational base to more than four times its present size.

Founded in 1984 by CEO Tim Creenan and his wife, Maryann, Amherst Alarm is a full-service installation monitoring provider serving Western New York. With 65 employees, Amherst operates its own computerized UL monitoring center and its .037 police dispatch rate for the city of Buffalo in 2015 helped it finally bag top PDQ honors after being named as a runner-up each of the previous three years.

“What struck me most about Amherst was their perseverance. Undeterred after being a runner-up several times, they continued to pursue the PDQ Award and with each application they improved in all categories,” says Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) Managing Director Ron Walters. “This is obviously a company that constantly reviews their methods and results, and it shows. The PDQ application process requires a real effort to complete and I was very pleased they pushed through until they came out on top.”

As a subscriber of the you-get-back-what-you-put-in school, Creenan is very active in industry groups and visible at events. His current and past roles include president of the Western New York Alarm Association; two-time president of the New York State Electronic Security Association; and multiple committee stints with the Electronic Security Association (ESA). However, the initiative and position of greatest impact where reducing false alarms is concerned has been his participation on the Installation Quality (IQ) program board.

“I encourage other security system companies to apply for the IQ certification, and by doing that it will give them the opportunity to [potentially] be recognized with a PDQ award in the future,” says Creenan. “The IQ certification process we’ve gone through has been a key business method of growing our operation and we are glad to be recognized by SIAC with the PDQ award.”

Founded in 2005 by SIAC, the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) and Security Sales & Integration, and subsequently officially endorsed by the IQ program, the PDQ Award annually recognizes a security company that best demonstrates a proactive, cooperative and successful effort in false alarm reduction strategies. The PDQ program’s mission is to raise industrywide awareness, promote partnering with responding agencies for public safety, motivate alarm companies to be proactive and provide workable models.

Applicants participate at no charge and are evaluated by three judges in a rigorous and thorough process that analyzes 14 areas (see box). In another very tight competition, Amherst Alarm nudged out runner-up Engineered Protection Systems (EPS).

Go inside Amherst Alarm in this photo gallery.

Amherst’s authoritative program includes: a letter on Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) that demonstrates the process when an alarm occurs; sales staff uses an IQ script about procedures and client duties; employs ANSI/CSAA CSV-01-2004 Alarm Verification and Notification Procedures; from central station to service department, uses SedonaOffice to track and follow-up all dispatches (false or real); holds weekly meetings to address problem accounts and action plan; and invoice notices, newsletters, IQ info brochures and website show clients ways to prevent false alarms.

While those are all key ingredients, an element that helped Amherst finally get over the hump to win its first PDQ Award was establishing the new position of client satisfaction specialist. Designed to ensure clients are consistently operating their system to its fullest potential, this person contacts anyone having trouble to offer training and uses analysis tools to identify those not using their system.

“A reason this may be happening is that they may have had a difficultly with the system or a false alarm in the past and are now hesitant about using the system, thus not getting the protection desired,” says Creenan. “Being proactive in this, we hope this effort gives the client confidence in using the system and that they use it in a way that does not create false dispatches.”

Just ahead, Creenan explains other factors, nuances and strategies that have and continue to set Amherst Alarm apart. SSI congratulations everyone at Amherst as this year’s PDQ winner.

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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