Many security companies now send their technicians into the field with iPads, laptops or smart phones downloaded with critical data. Several years ago that was not the case. That’s a positive change for our industry.
Improving communications allows technicians to place systems in “maintenance mode” while servicing a customer to reduce unnecessary alarm dispatches due to on-site testing. These devices can also bring up a customer’s history, allowing the technician to analyze signals to determine potential equipment issues or point to additional user training requirements.
Additionally, on-site technicians can show the customer stored “call-lists” to see if information is current, possibly having them sign-off on accuracy so central stations have good numbers to call, a critical requirement for ECV (2-call) verification success.
The advancement of technology is certainly one of the drivers of this trend. At the same time, leading companies adopt these new information-delivering devices because it makes business sense: Their technicians get data when and where they need it, and this improves their ability to properly install alarm systems. The customer is happier and the alarm system operates the way it is supposed to.
Getting information on the run like this is part of our world today. We’re all accessing documents, accounts, emails or reports when we are away from our main offices. Putting handheld devices into the hands of your technicians makes sense.
It gives your technicians the ability to manage their time more effectively, address customer questions more quickly and thoroughly, and prepares the technician to troubleshoot on the go. At SIAC, we believe this is a healthy trend for our industry, and encourage companies to explore the ability to provide these enhanced tools to your employees. They will help you leverage your time, and your employees leverage their time with your customers.
Servicing your customers through the 2G Sunset provisions is one of the most important things an alarm company can do to ensure the system continues to operate properly. SIAC explored concerns security businesses will encounter as they negotiate the 2G Sunset in two previous blogs: http://siacinc.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/after-the-2g-sunset-whats-next-part-2-in-a-siac-series/. Today we share additional tips to help your business run more effectively.
Update Your Customer Records:
Make a customer visit mandatory as part of your 2G Sunset plan. That means getting out and talking with each customer about what the change will mean to them and their alarm system.
No matter how hard we all try, it is likely that a high percentage of your customer records are inaccurate. Having an opportunity to do an updated inventory of customer equipment allows your service department to operate more efficiently.
Signing new 5-year customer contracts could actually increase the value of your accounts by 30-40%. This alone is worth the cost of a customer visit.
Don’t forget to get new emergency contact information and make sure that these updates include cell phone numbers so that you can employ Enhanced Call Verification (ECV).
Similarly, a valuable customer service is to share equipment upgrades with them, and gauge their interest in the installation of new technology. This can also include the replacement of outdated or worn out materials.
Did you know that outdated batteries are the cause of most weather related alarms? A very high percentage of your legacy accounts likely have outdated system batteries that should be replaced. There are many upgrades available today, such as video monitoring. In addition there are non-security devices, such as carbon monoxide detectors and thermostats that can be controlled by a smart phone.
If you look closely at your customers’ needs and what the 2G Sunset provisions will mean to their alarm system, you’ll find opportunities to secure the business for years to come, and grow your own.
SIAC believes implementing provisions from the model ordinance is still the best route for Akron, OH for the city to reduce the number of nuisance alarms within their jurisdiction. While the city has moved forward with a Verified Response policy that takes effect in March, we will continue to work with local officials to maintain police as first responders to alarms: http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/akron-implements-alarm-verification-policy.
Based on SIAC’s experience over the years, the public has expectations of police response, and they feel safer when there are trained sworn officers responding. We’ve seen that most consumers don’t want to use a private responder.
Non-response raises the risk to consumers, who have historically been compelled to respond to alarms on their own or to appeal to neighbors for help. That’s dangerous.
A well-enforced ordinance that places the focus on the chronic abusers, not the 85% that have no alarm dispatches in any given year. Limiting the number of free responses to a low number—between zero and two—is an important measure of this approach.
Reducing the overall number of alarm dispatches by implementing registration provisions also helps, along with two-call verification and canceling response to chronic abusers. Add to that cost recovery for the city through fees and fines and it becomes a win for everyone.
We’ve said it before and thirteen state chiefs associations agree: A well-enforced ordinance that utilizes our jointly developed best practices works. The key word is “enforced.” We understand the resource constraints in communities across North America. That’s why the model ordinance is a flexible document and tremendously useful for heavily reducing unwanted alarms.
By: Ron Walters
After the 2G Sunset, what’s next? Continuing in our series on what alarm companies can do to take advantage of the sunset provisions, we look next to the SIA/CP-01 standard.
Here’s what you can do at no cost while you are at a customer’s premise.
First, there should be no one-plus duress codes in any alarm panel. Manually activated alarms should be of dual action.
Check the entry-exit delay periods. Exit delays should be a minimum of 60 seconds and entry delays no less than 30 seconds. This helps address 77% of all false dispatches, which of course is user error.
Check the swinger shutdown feature – it should be set between 2 and 6.
Stay tuned to our blog for what’s next on the 2G Sunset and how our business can benefit.
Bill Moody was and is an amazing man. After decades serving the security industry, including service with SIAC, Bill retired approximately six years ago.
Before his retirement, we named an award for him, the “William Moody Award,” in 2004, while he was still working. When you think of awards to honor someone’s service, that usually happens after that individual retires. It says a lot about Bill that we named one for him while he continued to serve.
The SIAC Board of Directors established the award to acknowledge those special few individuals who unselfishly give their time and talents to alarm management issues and who reflect the attributes of Bill Moody, which include integrity, fairness and perseverance in the face of adversity. We believe those are very unique qualities in honor of a very special person. Visit our page at: http://www.siacinc.org/MoodyAwards.aspx.
Recently we had the opportunity to email with Bill, and he remains on top of the issues. Few will ever truly understand the obstacles we overcame and challenges that our industry faced in those early years. Bill was a pioneer who was never deterred. For those of us who have worked on these issues for years, we can say in full honesty that we wouldn’t live to see the day that the overall dispatch rate went down to about 0.8, with residential down to 0.21. Bill was instrumental in putting us into this position, and the winners of the Bill Moody Award are the types of individuals who contribute tirelessly to do the same.
We now have data proving that when a good ordinance is in effect with strong enforcement, 85% of the permitted systems will not have a single dispatch in any give year. The next 8-9% will only have one dispatch per year.
Thanks again to Bill and all the winners of the award in his name. Your contributions to the industry are timeless.
By: Ron Walters
There is probably no issue that has caused more confusion in our industry than the 2G Sunset by cellular radio carriers. On the other hand, there is probably no other issue in the history of the industry that provides as much opportunity.
Ambivalence or procrastination that exists over 2G can be scary for anyone in the security industry. Certainly, those that belong to industry trade associations are being provided ample opportunities to become informed, but what about the smaller companies with no industry affiliation? From everything I have heard, we can expect very little, if any notice of the due date.
It is unfortunate that some companies will likely not meet the deadline, and ultimately, many customers will be left without service. If you are using contract monitoring, you should be asking what their solution is and how it will impact you and your customers; and you should do this immediately!
This conversion will provide the entire industry a unique opportunity to meet with your legacy customers and to upgrade systems that were installed many years ago. A very high percentage of our equipment has features that may not have been programmed at the time of installation. When used, these features are very effective in reducing false dispatches.
Stay tuned to this blog in the coming weeks, as we outline business opportunities for security companies as part of the 2G Sunset.
(Ron Walters has worked at SIAC for over 10 years, and writes regularly for state and national newsletters on security-related issues.)
For the first time, SIAC will be a sponsor (Bronze) at the Major County Sheriffs’ Association (MCSA) Winter Meeting, January 21-22 in Washington, D.C. We’re proud to be able to participate with more members of the law enforcement community.
Over the years, we have built and sustained strong working relationships with the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and State Association of Chiefs of Police (SACOP). Our ability to work closely with these associations helps us refine new ordinances that meet the needs of law enforcement, protect public safety and reflect best practices from the security industry. We believe these relationships are tremendously important to SIAC’s mission.
MCSA’s membership represents counties with populations of 500,000 or more. These are the larger areas outside areas serviced by city police departments. They are on the edge of many security issues facing our industry, and we’re looking forward to hearing their challenges and how SIAC can help provide solutions.
A main focus for MCSA is legislative issues, along with education and enforcement strategies. Much of the security industry’s work on alarm ordinances involves local and state legislation and ordinances, education and enforcement strategies. This provides an excellent forum for SIAC to contribute information that advances the dialogue. We’re looking forward to it. We hope it’s the first step in strong relationship.