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.
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
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.
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: http://www.siacinc.org.
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.
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.
New home construction is up across North America. That trend appears strong for the near future. And within new home construction, more and more builders are offering security features to buyers. Eighty percent of home builders now offer service to install monitored security systems, according to the Consumer Electronics Association in their 13th Annual State of Builder Technology Market Study (http://bit.ly/1QfBYxr).
That’s a good growth measure for the electronic security industry. It also means technology and installations need to meet high industry standards to curtail unnecessary alarm activations. Growth for growth’s sake, as the saying goes, isn’t always the best thing.
It’s always important to figure out what “smart” growth is. Smart growth is more than ensuring your people are trained properly to correctly install and maintain new technologies. Always consider the impact on alarm management.
For the electronic security system, smart growth means technology is designed to minimize inadvertent alarm activations, customers know how to properly use their systems and proper support is provided by the monitoring company to ensure two-call verification is employed. SIAC recommends these measures, and more, as part of a high quality home alarm management program (www.siacinc.org).
Making sure new home installations get it right from the start requires education and good information. SIAC is here to help.
The battle over fire monitoring continues in Illinois. Over the past several years, private industry has won several costly lawsuits to prevent government entities from creating monopolies to monitor fire alarms (See: http://www.siacinc.org/). Despite the best efforts of the electronic security industry, that could change.
Kevin Lehan of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA) recently issued a communication regarding a June 25 meeting in Chicago. If you are a member of NFPA as of December 24, 2014, it is critically important that you attend, and vote on two issues that address the fire monitoring issue.
Go to SIAC’s Web site to read more, and the message from Lehan. We’ve attached the link above for your convenience.
If you are not a member of NFPA, you can still get involved. This is not just about Illinois. If efforts are successful there to restrict who can monitor, that could spread elsewhere in the country. The time to stop this is now. We urge you to step up.
Informed decisions when purchasing a home or business security system help reduce unwanted alarm activations. Monitoring that is Underwriter Laboratory (UL) certified or has a 5-star Diamond rating from the Central Station Alarm Association (www.csaaintl.org) help demonstrate an effective alarm monitoring program is in place.
Proper licensing is further insurance against nuisance alarm activations. The Electronic Security Association (www.esaweb.org) provides excellent advice in this area.
Finally, installing companies should provide a full explanation on how to operate the system properly. It’s important users understand how to easily arm and disarm the system, without causing any unnecessary alarm activations. Installing technicians should see if the customer has any questions and ensure they are all effectively answered. Installing companies should also follow-up, if necessary, so that customers know exactly how to use the keypad and any other technology in the system.
If these steps are followed, unwanted alarm activation that could cause consumers fines down the road will be minimized. Further help/tips can be found at: http://www.alarm.org.
The use of professional alarm monitoring services continues to rise. That’s according to a report from: Parks Associates, American Broadband Households and Their Technologies. From 2013 to 2014, professionally monitored security systems rose from 17% to 18%, while self-monitored, fee-based security systems dropped from approximately 3% to 2%.
The figures demonstrated that approximately 26% of homes have some form of security system or monitoring in place in 2014 (out of 100 homes, 18% have pro monitoring; 2% self-monitored; and 6% with a stand-alone security system – 18% + 2% + 6% = 26%).
As we noted in this blog several weeks ago, professional monitoring is important for the consumer to ensure the best trained and prepared representatives are handling your calls. This report bears that out.
For more on the issue, check us out at: https://siacinc.wordpress.com/2015/04/28/professional-monitoring-is-here-to-stay/.