ESTS Fosters Dealer-Vendor Ties, Delves Into Industry Trends & Challenges

A common theme at the Electronic Security Technology Summit 2014 was the need for installing security contractors to keep pace if they hope to remain relevant.

Jennings cautioned to beware the “cycle of doom” in which company owners and executives look to change everything in an effort to land upon a strategy that works. For those company owners who ultimately elect to remain complacent and content with doing business as they always have done, the sometimes jokester let out with a solemn admonition, “Your days are numbered if you don’t think someone is coming after your business.”

He emphasized the need to build and foster good customer relationships as a foundation for success. A gratified customer isn’t going to call you up and say, “You made me happy,” but they are going to tell a friend, and another and another. It’s about building your business on referrals, Jennings said.

“The relationships you have with your customers are what will save our industry. The small dealer will survive [because of those close relationships],” he said. “Cable companies think they are content providers but what they don’t realize is they need to build relationships.” 

For those owners who may be struggling to focus on a particular business strategy or vision in this time of great transformation, Jennings strongly suggested they read “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t.” The bestseller by Jim Collins identifies and evaluates the factors and variables that allow a small fraction of companies to make the transition from merely good to truly successful.

Among other sage advice offered by the industry veteran Jennings, who is an inductee to the SSI Industry Hall of Fame, hire good people and empower them. “Your staff will take you to places you never thought you could go,” he said.

Amy Kothari, CEO of Alarm Capital Alliance, schooled attendees the following morning about “Attrition: The Silent Killer” during a breakfast presentation. While her in-depth discussion provided rich detail about how to track attrition, as well as best practices to prevent and improve it, she also spent copious time focusing on one factor in particular: The customer experience.

“That is more important than ever before. We all sell the same products; we all sell the same services. There is no difference between us, Comcast, ADT. The only way you can differentiate is on the customer experience. That’s it. That’s the only thing that it comes down to,” Kothari stressed.

Providing a quality customer experience starts at the top of the organization in the front office, but where it is delivered is on the front line. Company owners must communicate to their staffs what they need to know about how to differentiate themselves and the need to “take care of the customer as if it is their mother on the phone,” she said.

Gone are the days when a dealer, as a rule, would never reach out and communicate with a customer so long as they were paying their bill on time. “That doesn’t work anymore. You want them to know who you are because Vivint is going to knock on their door. Comcast is going to knock on their door. They are getting direct mail flyers every single day,” Kothari said. “You want to be touching them and letting them know how you differentiate yourself. Start a move program. Be aggressive. Know when every one of your customers is moving. Put marketing in place so they know what to do when that happens.”

And for those installing security contractors who are of the mind that all cable companies and telcos are ultimately doomed in the security space because they will never be able to improve their customer service reputation, you could be sorely wrong.

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About the Author


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 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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