Keep Good Technicians

If you are a systems integrator, and have good technicians at your company, take extra steps to keep them on board. A quality technician provides many intangibles. They include:

• Good people skills. The top people listen to customers, explain the value, equipment and operation of the security system they install or fix. That bond with the customer helps your company build its reputation in a positive way.

• Highly trained. Send your technicians to extra training every year. Get them started with the right training tools, and keep helping them expand their skills. That gives your company an advantage in terms of the effectiveness of your installations, and cuts down on customer service calls.

• On time. Being on time is one of the most important qualities that good technicians have. They set up a time and show up when they say they will. Customers aren’t left waiting. If they happen to be late, they make sure to contact the customer immediately to let her know of the delay. This builds a stronger connection with customers, demonstrates responsibility and shows the customer’s time is valued.
Give a shout out to your technicians. Recognize the important work they do for you. Having the right people, retaining them, and helping them develop is important to the bottom line of any electronic security company. And, as an added bonus, those talented technicians help reduce unnecessary alarm activations. We love that part, too.

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David Margulies a Featured Speaker at CSAA Annual Meeting

As the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) re-imagines its annual meeting, a unique group of speakers will give presentations on a range of security-related issues, including David Margulies, who handles media relations for us here at SIAC. We look forward to hearing David speak during the sessions October 10-14 in Sonoma, CA. His presentations are interesting, cutting edge, and help companies build their brand and understand how to deal with crisis communications situations.
“Over the next several years, CSAA will be restructuring our traditional annual meeting in order to bring the greatest possible value to our members who attend,” said CSAA President Pamela Petrow in a CSAA press release. The security world continues to evolve. CSAA is looking to add content that improves the bottom line for those companies attending the sessions.

Margulies presentation is titled, “Protect Your Reputation: Crisis Management in the Cyber Age.” He will demonstrate to attendees that “what you don’t know about crisis management in the Cyber Age can kill your business.” He will share strategies and tactics for managing unforeseen events to protect company brand and reputation.

The keynote speaker will be Stan Stahl, Ph.D., President of Citadel Information Group, an information security management services firm. He will speak on: “Meeting the Information Security Management Challenge: The Financial Implications of Cybercrime on the Alarm Monitoring Industry” (Sponsored by Honeywell Security Products).

We hope to see you there. You can find out more on CSAA’s annual meeting at:

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Bellevue, Washington Opens Alarm Registration

Bellevue, Washington began enforcing alarm registration earlier this month on its new ordinance. Registration remains open through September 30. By October 1, alarm systems must be permitted or owners face fines of $100. Registration is $25 and permits the site through January 2017.


Bellevue participated in the Model States Project and SIAC volunteer Ron Haner of the Alarm Center in Lacey, Washington has continued that work with Bellevue over the ensuing years. This is one more example where his time and effort have been rewarded as the city moves to a program designed to improve alarm management practices. Like other types of news, sometimes we hear more about the bad than the good. This case is good news. We believe the program will substantially lower the number of unnecessary calls for police dispatch and continue to build a stronger bond between local law enforcement and the electronic security industry.

The new ordinance includes many best practices for which SIAC advocates: Mandatory registration, fines for unnecessary alarm activations, and two-call verification (Enhanced Call Verification or ECV). To avoid the first fine, violators can take an alarm awareness class, which we believe is an excellent step to better educate alarm users about how to operate their system properly, and to understand how numerous alarm activations impact law enforcement resources.

If you run an alarm business in Bellevue, you need to know that AOT Public Safety Corp. will manage the program. You can go to online to complete your registration.

Getting good ordinances approved and adopted takes substantial time and resources. We’re happy to see Ron Haner’s efforts rewarded in Bellevue in this ordinance filled with our best practices.

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Habitec Security Wins Police Dispatch Quality Award

At ESX in Baltimore recently, SIAC and Security Sales and Integration magazine announced Habitec Security as the 2014 winner of the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award: We salute their longstanding commitment to the best alarm management practices.

PDQ award

The award annually recognizes the company with the best alarm management program, working with local enforcement to reduce unnecessary dispatches to alarm activations. Habitec, which operates in the Northwest Ohio area, has a personalized approach to dispatch reduction, one that reflects a close relationship with customers and law enforcement. This type of hands-on approach to dispatch reduction is an important key to successful alarm management practices.

Our judges also felt that Habitec’s training program for new supervisors was exemplary, and their implementation of Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) in 2011 was critical to their success in keeping their alarm rate down. The company also notifies customers in writing and by telephone if they have more than two unwanted alarm activations during a specified period. These are the types of qualities our judges expect and Habitec delivered.

We would like to also thank Honeywell and the Installation Quality (IQ) program for their support of the PDQ effort as well. Key industry partners make these types of awards possible. After 10 years, the PDQ award is a much sought after prize by companies in the alarm industry, as it demonstrates a commitment to best practices, and a badge of success they can share with current and future customers.

To all of those who applied for the award, SIAC appreciates the effort you put into your programs and your submission. There were several excellent entries. Our judges’ job is never easy. Just by applying, each company signifies their interest in the award and its importance to company operations. We appreciate that commitment and look forward to future submissions.

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Don’t Oversell Law Enforcement Response Times

Don’t oversell law enforcement response times to alarm. We can’t stress this point enough.

Members of the alarm industry must work closely with law enforcement officials across North America. That means we are in regular contact with hundreds of different officials on an annual basis, and reliant on sustaining good relationships with them. There are times that SIAC staff have seen or heard of security companies speaking for the ability of law enforcement to respond to alarm activations. It is not our job to speak for law enforcement.

police car

Response times vary by city. It is best to only give a general range or stay conservative with a “high” minute response time, and remind customers about the deterrent effect of alarms. The bad guy doesn’t know whether the police are around the corner or 30 minutes away. The point security companies should emphasize is the reduction in opportunity for a criminal to break in.

It’s not a smart business decision to raise customers’ expectations in areas outside your control. It’s better to go the other way – stay very conservative when explaining police response times.

Years ago, part of my standard training included a statement to stick in the salesperson’s mind, and put this issue in perspective, “Every time you make a presentation to a customer, imagine there is a hidden camera recording everything you say. How would thousands of viewers, or your company management, respond if segments of your presentation played on the local TV nightly news?”

You’d want to sound good. And you’d want to be caught saying the right thing. This has happened many times across the country, so please keep it in mind during your next presentation.

BY: Stan Martin

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Train Sales Staff in Alarm Management

Training your sales staff in proper alarm management practices is good for your business and customers. Though it may sound self-evident, knowing how to operate the keypad and alarm system is a skill set that each sales person should easily, comfortably and thoroughly be able to explain to every level of customer.

sales training

Getting your sales staff to a position of expertise takes a company commitment to train your personnel. SIAC offers a multitude of materials to every business in the electronic security industry. Check out our Web site:

Once you develop a sales training package that includes an alarm management section, make sure that each new hire goes through a class that includes reading, question and answer sessions, video lessons and tests to ensure the right knowledge is gained. Training should also include a section where each sales person gets up in a public setting and goes through his or her presentation and is then questioned by other members of the class from a customer perspective. That builds understanding and the ability to recognize customer wants and needs.

Fundamentally, having your sales staff trained in alarm management best practices helps your bottom line. Your customers will stay with you because their security system works as designed. Customers get their questions answered, so they are happier and refer your company to their friends, neighbors, family and work colleagues.

Good alarm management practices are an important tool in your sales kit. Build a good program and set yourself apart.

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Monitoring Prices Reflect Growing Value

From 2004-2013, monitoring prices for alarm systems slowly rose. That’s good news for the electronic security industry, and reflects the value these companies provide customers. People are willing to pay more to hire professionally trained customer service departments to monitor their homes and businesses.


According to a report with these statistics from the “2104 Security Sales and Integration Business Report,” the average price for monitoring in 2004 was $24. By 2013, it rose to $27. No, that’s not a big jump. But during a significant number of those years, the U.S. economy did not do well. So a $3 rise in monthly fees over 10 years is not bad.

More importantly, we believe here at SIAC that the trend reflects an ongoing desire of customers to hire security industry professionals. One of the major benefits customers receive in return is well-trained central station operators schooled in the best techniques to keep unnecessary alarm activations to a minimum.

When you provide good value, as alarm monitoring centers do, customers recognize this and are willing to incorporate a slightly higher fee into their monthly budgets. SIAC encourages alarm monitoring companies to continue promoting this value. Show how you benefit customers. Explain the skills your people bring to the telephone when they pick up and respond to an activation. The more your customers understand these qualities, the more they will understand why a few bucks a month is worth it to their protection.

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