HS Technology CEO Talks Alarm Management Tactics

HS Technology Group graces the cover of October’s issue of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION as winner of this year’s Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award. Inside, HST President Stuart Forchheimer and others discuss the company’s approach to reducing false alarms and other management tactics. Below, Forchheimer offers additional insights into how HST developed its successful program, as well as what the PDQ Award and false alarm reduction means for the industry at large. Be sure to also check my other post where he talks about economic, weather, technology and other larger landscape issues profoundly affecting today’s security business operators. 

What kind of feedback have you received from colleagues with other security companies? Have you been able to inspire any of them to be more proactive and conscientious?

Stuart Forchheimer: My colleagues, as well as our staff, are surprised that we won. We used what we felt was a typical approach on how to make the program work. We analyzed the data and worked on what needed to be fixed. Once we had this information and were able to prioritize the issues, the rest came pretty naturally. We developed simple solutions to correct the challenges we faced. Nothing was rocket science, just plain common sense.

We have shared our techniques, literature, brochures, methodologies, etc. with those companies we share working relationships with. All have been thankful; however, it’s very difficult to incorporate only one technique or methodology into a company that is not attempting to make a change. You really need to spend the time to make your outline and develop the program that works best for your company. A friendly tip or brochure will not fix anything long-term. It may spark some interest, which would be great, but it took us several years, to really embrace our program and stay on task.

Is HS Technology’s approach equally applicable to security operators of all sizes? Explain what differences there might be for smaller or larger operators.

Forchheimer:While the approach may be the same for both large and small operators in identifying their problem, the approach to correcting it may be vastly different. A larger company may have resources to allocate to this cause by creating a team to develop a program and to monitor the progress of the program over time. This company will also have a much larger subscriber base for program implementation. A smaller company may have a limited number of personnel in the office, but those staff may be able to provide a more personalized customer experience.  Lou Sepulveda, one of my mentors, once told me it has everything to do with the “whether” and nothing to do with the “weather.” I have found from my past experiences that whether a company decides to make a plan or even address the false alarm problem has no direct relationship to the size of their operation.

Do you believe the PDQ program is valuable to the industry and can help make a difference?

Forchheimer:The PDQ program is very valuable to the industry. For example, as an associate member of FARA, we are able to utilize some of their end-user literature. It would have taken us countless hours to develop brochures, pamphlets and handouts and it is all there on FARA’s Web site for the asking. I would recommend that any company in this business needs to minimally support FARA, and utilize the information and knowledge they provide. For those companies that do have some type of false alarm program in place, the PDQ program is a good way to evaluate potential areas of your program that may be lacking. It enabled us to create a resource for our staff as well as to reassure us that we are covering all the bases.

How was the reaction without your organization in winning the PDQ award? It has been quite a year with also being a runner-up for SSI’s Installer of the Year. What is your secret to such success? How do you plan to market your PDQ accolade?

Forchheimer: We were all very excited and shocked to hear the news. It’s also refreshing to hear a CSR [customer service rep] tell a customer on the phone, “Did you know our company … ” Being recognized nationally as being the best does not happen often. It is very reassuring, to all us at HST, that what we do on a daily basis is not only recognized but looked upon as tops in our industry. It makes us appreciate even more that our efforts and hard work make a difference to others in the industry besides the clients we serve.

As for being a runner-up for Installer of the year, it was actually the first year we entered this category as well as the PDQ. Not bad for having never entered before. The Installer of the Year recognition really portrayed our company as being a diversified service provider caring about its staff, its customers and the community we serve. I know our staff was excited to be honored with this recognition as well.

As far as the secret to our success, for me it’s a combination of a caring staff working together on a daily basis to achieve what I feel very few companies in our industry set out to do. It’s nice when someone asks, “Who is your competition?” and you have to think hard for an answer. We do things differently, “we think outside the box” and we make a difference in the lives of all of the customers and local municipalities we work with. We are celebrating our 20th anniversary next year so we plan on incorporating both awards along with several contests through a social media campaign. We are humbled to be honored and excited to be able to associate our company with the PDQ program and identifying logo. We will begin to place the PDQ logo in our company literature, Web site and other company publications.

Is there anything else relevant to your false alarm reduction program, the PDQ Award or false alarms in general that you would care to add?

Forchheimer: I would encourage smaller companies that have implemented a similar program to submit an entry for next year’s PDQ contest. While there may be some time spent in preparing your PDQ entry, the national recognition and honor your company will receive will far outweigh your investment of time. Knowing that industry peers evaluate other programs and select yours as the best ultimately means your customers are receiving the ultimate benefit, a company that cares about false alarm reduction, the communities it serves and does something about it every day.

For those that have not begun to create a program, looking at your central station reports would be a good start. If any companies are serious about developing a program, I’d be more than happy to discuss their program with them; I’m on Linkedin. In this economy, with so much competition and utility companies now entering the industry, we need to win customers over with service. There will always be a cheaper price, so remember, “The bitter taste of poor quality remains much longer than the sweet taste of a low price.” Make sure your customers know the efforts you take to run an effective program and focus on providing a better service than others. For us, we know having a false alarm program and winning this award will help convey our commitment when it comes to delivering unparalleled service.

To enter your company for the PDQ recognition, click here.

Scott Goldfine

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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