7 Success Strategies for the New Year
The 3G communications sunset, pandemic and supply chain struggle have security pros’ heads spinning. Fear not as here are tactics to forge ahead as 2022 beckons.
It’s almost here and we are fatigued hearing about it, so let’s quickly go over the basics. At the time of authoring this article, AT&T had not moved off its February 2022 sunset timeline. Regardless if AT&T should extend its sunset date to coincide with Verizon’s Q4 sunset, 2022 will still be the year of the ultimate sunset.
MacGuard Security Advisors has worked with dealer/integrator clients the past few years where we uncovered a laser focus on LTE upgrades, getting through the pandemic, hiring employees and attempts to retain quality ones. However, many integrators have been so totally focused on getting through the LTE push and the pandemic that they have lost sight of “what’s next.”
It is time for dealers and integrators to be proactive and set their course. We will address what great companies are or should be doing to take control of their destiny.
In November, MacGuard surveyed residential dealers and commercial integrators across the United States asking critical questions about the sunset, growth opportunities, concerns and excitement looking to 2022 and well into the future.
MacGuard took those results and overlayed them with feedback from industry sources, clients and industry leaders to develop top traits that MacGuard believes will help catapult growth in 2022 and beyond.
To determine where we are headed, let’s review where we are now and what was uncovered in the MacGuard survey and client evaluations. Here is a snapshot:
- 76% of dealers surveyed are 70%-90% completed with their upgrades.
- 73% of the respondents generated additional equipment revenue, with the majority in the $100-$300 range.
- More than 50% generated additional recurring monthly revenue (RMR), at an average of $6 to $10 per month.
- 41% were able to sign a new term contract. MacGuard believed this number would have been higher. However, when we dug deeper, one large dealer indicated it did not want to add more complexity to the sunset issue and just performed the radio upgrades as a system inspection rather than an attempt to extend the contract term.
- Almost 80% conceded that the upgrade enhanced the relationship with clients.
The past few years have taught us that the electronic security industry is essential and resilient. It has also led many to understand that operational efficiencies and staying close to the customer are paramount for long term viability.
New entrants and new thinking like DIY can help re-educate us. It can also show us that our most important asset, our employees, need to be nurtured and never ever taken for granted. Following are the top seven things to focus on in 2022 and beyond.
1. Make Upselling Standard
Based upon the MacGuard survey, more than 70% of dealers/integrators were successful in gaining additional equipment revenue. In excess of half generated increased RMR of $6-$10 per month. Many were able to garner a new agreement, which is excellent news if the dealer updates its consumer agreements with the most recent required legal and insurance mandates.
Upselling should be part of your company DNA. If you are not upgrading your accounts, someone else will. Upselling positions you as the expert in the home or business by offering the latest technology which has been vetted by you.
2. Engage Employees
According to the Gallup organization, which studied more than 2.7 million workers across 100,000+ teams, 12 core elements were uncovered that prove to be the most effective in determining employee engagement (see sidebar below). Astonishingly, companies have panicked and spent more time finding new employees than holding onto ones they have and collaboratively working with the staff, making their work and personal life better.
One benefit you will realize is better and more consistent bottom-line revenues year over year if you place your employees at the top of your priorities. A quick handwritten note, a personal phone call of thanks, a small gift or a token of appreciation goes a long way. The key is that it must be repeatable.
1. I know what is expected of me at work.
2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
3. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
4. I have received recognition or praise for doing good work in the last seven days.
5. My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
6. There is someone at work who encourages my development.
7. At work, my opinions seem to count.
8. The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is essential.
9. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
10. I have a best friend at work.
11. In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
12. This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
(Source: Gallip Q12 Employment Engagement Survey)
Read the book, “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It is a great read and essential for any leader. Greg Burge, former president of GE Security, wrote personal notes of thanks quite often, but he also set his expectations in the note: “A quick note to thank you for the attitude and tenacity you bring to the job each day; I look forward to prioritizing, simplifying, and executing with you and your team to hit it out of the park.” These words of encouragement were well received. The directness of prioritizing, simplifying and executing was apparent to all.
Team-focus matters. Leaders should be direct, compassionate and trustworthy. If you desire greatness from your employees, practice these.
3. Focus Differently on Growth
Achieve topline growth by controlling demand and increasing output/throughput. You can control demand by initiating a price action; yes, a price increase. Now is the time to consider adjusting your pricing strategy. Many trades and businesses are doing so.
At the recent Total Tech Summit held in Orlando, Fla., Randy Stearns, CEO of industry software leader D-Tools, related that companies might want to maintain their current size; exercise hiring discipline during these tough hiring times and instead focus on EBITDA. A $5 million business with 10% ($500,000) in EBITDA suggests if you raise prices by 10%, revenues go up to $5.5 million, and EBITDA doubles to $1 million. That is music to your bankers’ ears.
According to Stearns, increasing output/throughput, which is the productivity of your workforce, does some good things. For example, minor changes to schedules, service routes, taking trucks home, adjusting pay for hours onsite vs. travel time can all yield significant benefits.
In addition, using existing staffing requires minimal training and clients keep seeing the same faces instead of a revolving door of new and untrained employees. Finally, having software systems in place to prevent duplicating efforts also contributes to a better bottom line.
4. Engage Customers
According to the MacGuard survey, only 47% of dealers use transactional surveys and 43% use customer satisfaction relational surveys. Transactional surveys are performed after an event, such as an installation or service call. A customer satisfaction relational survey is usually performed annually according to Deb Moretti, former director of customer experience at Guardian Protection, a top super regional company.
Moretti is now a senior advisor with MacGuard conducting end-user satisfaction surveys for clients. “A customer satisfaction survey delivers insights every business needs to make better decisions,” she says. “Before launching a survey for overall satisfaction with the brand, it is important to identify the touchpoints in the customer’s journey to construct a customer journey map for inclusion in the survey. The customer feedback data uncovers what matters most to your customers and even more significant, the data identifies pain points to guide in solving the problems and close the customer experience gap for overall satisfaction and brand loyalty.”
5. Solidify Supply Partners
Manufacturers and service providers such as SaaS platforms and distributors look to gain an additional share of wallet from dealers and integrators. You may always want a secondary source of product selection for supply chain disruptions, like the one we are in the middle of now.
However, loyalty is a crucial component of any relationship. After the supply chain correction, if your partner is falling behind others on an ongoing basis that is the time to look for alternatives. Any vendor can get behind and lose focus from time to time.
Look at the big picture. Many companies launch new products and the industry is enamored by the shiny penny, but the effects often do not live up to expectations. They are ultimately scrubbed or create service nightmares for your team.
Work with your vendor partners to understand their roadmap and make sure it aligns with yours. Treat your partner with respect and do not begin every discussion focusing on price. It gets old for your partners and does nothing to solidify a win-win relationship. Again, read the “Go-Giver.”
6. Keep Tabs on Tech
Voice recognition, facial recognition, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cybersecurity, IT convergence. It is enough to make your head spin! Here is the thing: Your clients expect you to be knowledgeable and only introduce products and services free from creating issues, operating seamlessly and making life easier. So where do you find the best sources of information?
January’s Security Sales & Integration 2022 forecast feature with industry experts is a good starting place. In addition, the Security Industry Association (SIA) recently published its 2022 Megatrends study. Parks Associates, a leading firm specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services, is an excellent source to validate strategy and consumer traits.
Your vendors and distributors are also a source of reliable information and feedback. I have found that industry associations, national, state and local are all great sources of information.
7. Take the Lead
What is next after LTE? The ability to lead your company forward through the post or new standard pandemic times, ushering in an economic boon or recessionary times, working through skilled employee shortages by creating an environment where people want to work all lie on the shoulders of the leader.
But there are mentors whom you can lean on. Again, connect with your national, state or local security associations. They will make recommendations, and many will help you pro bono. If you elect to engage a professional consultant, check references extensively from past and present clients and make sure they will not derive revenue from the recommendations you receive or implement.
In sum and to review, life after LTE is about using the lessons learned to increase your bottom line. First, stay close to customers. Ask them how you are doing and evaluate your results against yourself year over year. Second, motivate employees and create an environment where people want to come and work and most importantly, where people want to stay.
Third, focus on EBITDA and right-size your business based on economic conditions. Fourth, treat your vendors like partners. Be loyal and demand more from them if you are willing to commit more revenue to them. Lastly, have someone look at your business from the outside and give you an honest opinion on where you are headed. Are you headed for smooth skies or into a turbulent and maybe unforeseen storm?
Kirk MacDowell is Founder and CEO of MacGuard Security Advisors. To obtain a summary of the MacGuard survey and whitepaper, visit macguard.com.
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