Ask Not What NBFAA Can Do for You …

Have you heard Aesop’s fable about a farmer’s quarrelsome family? In it, the farmer lays out a bundle of sticks before his sons and challenges them to break it. After the sons fail, he unties the bundle and gives them the sticks to break one by one, which they do with the greatest of ease. “Thus, my sons, as long as you remain united, you are a match for anything, but differ and separate, and you are undone,” says the father.

That quote brings me to this month’s subject: The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA). The NBFAA acronym summons up different sentiments for security professionals, depending on how long they have been in the industry, the size of their company, their geographic location and their personal experience. Regardless of what that perception may be, I believe we cannot let financial issues cause this association to whither on the vine like some forsaken grape drying up into a raisin.

No, we need the NBFAA. Before you say, “Ah, who cares, we don’t need ‘em! My business will be just fine with or without them!” — you had better think again. The NBFAA is a brand. It’s a 57-year-old, established name that is referenced and quoted several hundred times throughout the year by consumers and mainstream media as a reliable source representing the security industry.

If you regularly read my editorials, you know I frequently address the importance of being vigilant about doing all we can as an industry to present a strong, positive image to the consumer world.

For example, I have discussed how we should put together a public relations campaign similar to “What’s for dinner” by the American Beef Council. I have also talked about how people will spend $3 for a cup of over-roasted Arabica bean coffee, but can’t find a dollar a day for alarm monitoring to protect their biggest investment — their family.

The bottom line is we need to create a stronger perception about our industry to the general public. I am sick and tired of seeing TV stations and newspapers interviewing people that denigrate our industry (especially false alarms) without a soul standing up to tell our side of the story to consumer media! Whether or not your company installs or monitors any of the 30 million burglar alarms out there or concentrates on large commercial projects, our entire industry is judged by the performance of those systems.

To help stem the tide, I believe the NBFAA’s role moving forward should focus on being at the forefront of public-awareness campaigns. I would like to see the association attack this mission with vigor and hire a well-known figurehead to be a spokesman to mainstream media.

Improving this situation takes money. Recently, the NBFAA raised its annual membership dues structure. For example, companies that have 1-5 employees that were paying $175 will now pay $228, companies with 6-10 employees went from $300 to $390, and so on. Quite frankly, I believe these dues are still way too low! No wonder the association had a financial deficit.

Commonly, the dues for other industry associations range annually from $500 (company membership) to $150 (individual membership). Amazingly, there are member companies within the NBFAA that are complaining about the increases! These people are the same ones who complain the NBFAA is not doing enough. I just can’t believe it; talk about a trunk-slammer mentality!

I sense a shift in the NBFAA. Executive Director Merlin Guilbeau is making positive changes and has good ideas for the future (see “As I See It”). I say it’s about time the NBFAA sought out the best companies in our industry and charged membership dues that are a fair value for the benefits received.

If you are currently not involved — take heed! Our industry is changing rapidly, more now than in the 24 years I’ve been involved in it. Your membership is vital to the health and future direction of your own destiny. Whether or not you actively participate, the NBFAA would like your help — join today. Tell them Mike sent you!


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