On March 31, I again had the distinct honor of being able to reveal and present the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award’s annual winner. This year it was Atronic Alarms of Lenexa, Kan., with Custom Alarm of Rochester, Minn., and ADT Security Services of Boca Raton, Fla., being the other finalists. You can read all about it in the May issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATON.
The PDQ program is near and dear to my heart as it developed out of a concept I presented to Stan Martin, now executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), and Larry Dischert, now retired but at the time director of industry and regulator liaison for ADT, during an ISC West show earlier this decade. A couple of years later the vision was realized with the addition of the False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA).
Established jointly in 2005 by SSI, SIAC and FARA, the PDQ program aims to curtail the false alarm problem by recognizing installing and monitoring companies that follow established industry best practices and partner with law enforcement to achieve the highest quality in police dispatch requests. The goal is to raise industry-wide awareness, motivate alarm firms to be proactive and provide models that work for others to follow.
As is often the case, I gathered far more material than could possibly be shoehorned into the print article and so here I give loyal Under Surveillance readers the first part of five bonus postings covering this year’s PDQ program. This installment allows you to learn more about Atronic’s winning ways.
What are some of the areas you would still like to see improvement in and what are you doing to achieve it?
Nell Mathews, General Manager: We would like to see local authorities recognizing special circumstances and have a little more flexibility for the conscientious alarm users who quickly repair any mechanical problems, and have set up annual inspections to prevent false alarm problems. There are several cities whose alarm coordinators work very diligently with us and then there are some who exhibit no flexibility at all, for any reason.
How costly of an undertaking was this; how did you budget for it? How does it fit into ROI terms?
Mathews: It is more time consuming than anything. It involves the cost of the labor to get the job completed, but it also increases postage, envelopes, letterhead and postcard expense to keep our customers updated on changes in their municipality. It is one of those items you can’t specifically budget for because you don’t know when the changes might take place. We also use our quarterly newsletter to reach customers or include additional paperwork along with their monitoring invoices. Our Web site is updated continually as well.
How difficult was it to get Atronic’s personnel to conform to the new policies and procedures? What has the internal feedback been?
Mathews: Not difficult at all. We are all well aware of how critical it is that clients have a strong comfort level in using their systems. False alarms are one of the reasons they might not use it and, as we all know, nonusage leads to cancellations of the monitoring service, which leads to a reduced RMR. Our customers are very complimentary of our phone calls and additional services because they know we have their best interests in mind.
Nell Mathews, general manager for Atronic Alarms.
What were the challenges in implementing the plan on the customer side? Did any problem accounts become more problematic?
Rob Kemp, Quality Assurance Specialist: By working our dispatch reports and multiple alarms reports on a daily and weekly basis, we can definitely be proactive and, with our customers help, prevent problematic accounts. Most of our customers felt that by installing a security system in their home they were helping to deter the criminal element and ease some of the burden placed on law enforcement.
How have the results meshed with your projections and expectations?
Mathews: It is hard to say exactly, but we definitely make and receive fewer calls regarding customer issues with false alarms. If it results in one less fine for our customer and one less unnecessary response by law enforcement it is a move in the right direction.
Do you believe your approach/plan should serve as a blueprint for other alarm companies to follow?
Perry Atha, President: Each company must determine how much they are willing to invest in way of manpower, services and what sources are readily available through reports and other types of communications. Our plan is not difficult, but to succeed you need the dedication of those involved to make it work and to have total commitment from your employees and your clients.
Perry Atha, president and founder of Atronic Alarms.
Is Atronic Alarms’ approach equally applicable to security operators of all sizes?
Mathews: I don’t think size matters because as you work the plan and educate the customers, and seek and gain the respect of law enforcement. You are continually working toward the same goal: reducing the false alarm issue.
How do you feel about finally winning the PDQ Award after coming so close in the past?
Atha: I was extremely pleased as the owner, and when I announced the results to the staff there was an immediate excitement in the room. It delivers the “job well done” to all of the employees because they are the reason this has worked. Their day-to-day diligence and their personal pride to provide quality client service and develop those on-going re
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