Capitalizing on Your Central Station’s Brains & Brawn

Learn how central stations can aid in implementing best practices to standardize installations and maximize overall account value.

The alarm industry has attracted many new RMR-seeking participants ranging from nationwide entities to one-man shops. While the big boys hired industry veterans to establish operations, a small company is likely to take shape after hours and on weekends.

A great majority of viable alarm operations began this way, but there is always an urgency to pick up speed quickly when the ultimate goal is to be your own boss. That’s where a central station can help, particularly training dealers on processes and ways to establish best practices.

Software Guides the Hardware

Learning how to interact with the central station is as important as understanding the hardware you will use in the field.

Just as it’s vital to know how to partition zones in a system, you must be able to assign account numbers, add conditions, parties and call-back options, as well as learn how to verify the origin of alarm signals and understand how to read history logs. These are the basics of the job.

These proprietary processes are not taught in schools, however. You must use your selected central station’s training manuals and follow their flow charts with screen captures to master the dealer interface for account management.

New dealers should also take ad-vantage of “demo sites” that allow them to input mocked-up data to program test accounts and check devices. Being able to practice on-boarding new customers using the same interface as you regularly would use helps ensure it is done correctly for a live, paying account.

Similarly, become intimately familiar with the functions of mobile apps that will help establish efficient practices. For example, when testing an account, a smartphone or tablet should be used to see signals hit the history logs in real-time. That eliminates time on the phone with monitors for commissioning purposes.

Standardize & Streamline to Elevate Efficiency

Central stations have a broader view of the industry and can suggest best practices, such as establishing a company line card. Do this early on to standardize installations and, ultimately, maximize the overall account value.

A dedicated line card increases the value of accounts at the time of a sale because it is much easier – and less costly – for the acquiring company to repoint the phone lines if the accounts are being moved to a different central station. Should your ac-counts be scattered on multiple line cards, the buyer would have to schedule appointments with the end users to reprogram those systems. Having a dedicated line card also allows dealers to organize their accounts numerically by ranges, such as designating fire accounts as 1,000-1,999 and burglar systems as 2,000-2,999.

Another advantage of having your own line card is that all of your subscriber accounts are programmed to dial a single set of telephone numbers and have the same two-character prefix. Not only does this standardize the installation process, it will greatly reduce the number of phantom signals that land on your accounts. That directly minimizes the potential for false dispatches.

You might not have engineers, experienced industry marketers and graphic designers on staff, but your central station most likely does. Tap this talent by reviewing the bulletins put out by the IT department, experiment with suggested sales programs and deliver promotional flyers that are developed based market research. Request any end-user educational and marketing pieces that instruct on proper system use and entice customers with upgrade opportunities.

Another way to educate customers is to review tutorials to become an ex-pert user of online and mobile-compatible portals so you can teach customers how to use the complete breadth of their system. This increases the stickiness and length of the subscriber relationships.

Dealers can also ask their central station to be a buffer be-tween AHJs and their company. Having the central station intervene – as a larger company that likely has subscribers in the same jurisdiction – when there are questions about codes and compliance, often clears up any gray areas.

Obviously, monitoring is the primary function of a central station, but new alarm dealers should look to them as partners because they have the same goal: helping you to provide the highest level of service.

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