Wholesale Monitoring: Four Executives Analyze Prosperity Opportunities, Challenges

The executives offer their experience and advice for dealers as the third party central station market continues to evolve.

Operating an installing security dealer business is oftentimes not a solo endeavor. There is the fundamental role played by the wholesale monitoring provider to support and complement the business of installing alarms and its various revenue-generating services. That puts the wholesale monitoring folks smack in the middle of a uniquely intimate perspective to evaluate, react to and advise about market machinations.

In the best of worlds they do invaluable work to ensure the success and longevity – or early lucrative exit – of the independent security dealer. Their mission should be to reside on the forefront of marketplace disruption; to be a source of education and training for new technologies and services on the uptake. How better to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship? Only you can gauge if you need your third-party central station to be all that, and all else that the best ones provide.

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Security Sales & Integration organized a group of wholesale monitoring executives to facilitate a candid discussion on the market-altering forces affecting dealer operations. The roundtable participants included Sharon Elder, vice president of sales for National Monitoring Center (NMC) in Lake Forest, Calif.; Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations for Rapid Response Monitoring in Corona, Calif.; Kevin McCarthy, national sales manager for EMERgency24 in Chicago; and Tracey Ritchie, vice president and general manager for United Central Control (UCC) in San Antonio.

Read their assessments of a fast-evolving market landscape that is replete with opportunity and formidable challenge; plus beating back false dispatches, RMR-generating opportunities and much more.

Identify a top challenge facing security dealers and how teaming with a third-party monitoring company can help them get over the hump.

Tracey Ritchie is the vice president and general manager for United Central Control (UCC) in San Antonio.

TRACEY RITCHIE: I think the biggest challenge dealers are facing right now is the end of POTS and the changing technology, specifically communications. The way that central stations can assist with that – we work with it every day – is spreading knowledge, trying to educate people, helping them troubleshoot, teaching them about new services and adapting as many services as possible in new technologies so that they have a variety of options to go out there and offer to their customers.

SHARON ELDER: I certainly agree that the rapid of pace of changing technology is key. Dealers need to think long-term for their path of transmission; telephone lines are not that option going forward. Who are they going to partner with in that regard? The other key area is really the advent of social media.
Traditional dealers who have been referral-based dealers – who are not plugged into things like Yelp [an online site and mobile app that publishes crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses] – are finding there is commentary out there about them. It is a whole area they were never plugged into before. A third thing is teaching the technicians how to keep up with the technology, and obviously their office personnel, how to keep up that customer service so that social media has a positive reflection.

MORGAN HERTEL: One of the biggest challenges I see, as they look at the competitive landscape today, is how does the smaller dealer with 200 accounts – practically a one-man show – keep up with all the other services that the bigger players, like an ADT, offer? How can they have the same offering? How does he stay educated on doing it? Or even more importantly, how does he have a better offering? Because it’s not just good enough today to have a “me too”; he needs to have something that is a different widget, a different model, a different methodology. The only place he can really get that today are the various differentiators within the central station world. Equipment is equipment. Alarm.com is Alarm.com. But where else can I be a differentiator for that independent dealer? In addition to what Tracey and Sharon said, they have to keep up in that space as well.

KEVIN McCARTHY: I agree with the panel. We can provide all these technologies and services, but 20% of our dealer base is on cutting edge of technology. They want the new technologies, they want to learn about it, they want to use it, they want to be able to offer it. We have a midrange of dealers who are just kind of plugging along doing the same thing. To speak with the rest of the group, POTS lines are going away and I am amazed at the bulk of activations each month that are still on POTS lines.

About the Author

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Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for latimes.com. Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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