So You Want to Own and Operate an "Alarm Company" – What is Your Plan of Attack?
There are an immense amount of things to consider once you choose to enter the electronic security and alarm field as your next business. In my experience, the people who take this endeavor on, are coming from careers as alarm installers or have a great amount of engineering experience. What attracts a person to the alarm industry and makes them want to run their own alarm company are usually the recurring revenues from monitoring. There is a great amount of money to be made in the monitoring side of the business. Many also find the industry to be somewhat recession proof as it is a product that is both needed and accessible to all, no matter what their financial status might be.
Alarm installers have an advantage over many that open an alarm company. I equate it to opening a restaurant, you can have the nicest dining room in town and the best service in place as well, but if the chef is no good, your restaurant will fail. Installation is the one side of the business that controls the quality of all other aspects. As with most things, when you sub work out, you will sacrifice quality unless the owner of the company comes from an alarm installation background and can supervise and train other installers, to maintain the highest standards of the industry. Many municipalities and state governments have extensive licensing and background check requirements to operate or even work for an alarm company. Other states require minimum experience and their licensing is as informal as getting a permit. A good starting point to research these requirements would be to contact the (national) NBFAA or (your state) burglar and fire alarm association.
When you decide to build an Alarm Company from the ground up, there are many considerations that one must take into account. As there are few places to turn where all the needed information is under one roof, you may find yourself speaking to many experts in individual aspects of business and alarm company operations. After a great amount of information is gathered, you can then begin to put the puzzle together.
The inherent problem with this approach is that the information taught by one was not designed to flow with the information taught by another, and you end up putting out many fires, at a time that you should be learning how to prevent them.
Here are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself at the beginning stages of starting your alarm company:
*Do I join an alarm dealership program or run an independent alarm company?
*How will I set up administration for the daily operations of my alarm company?
*What should I pay all the crucial positions?
*How does the paperwork flow from sales, to alarm install, to administration?
*What numbers should I target and expect?
*How is my alarm sales department structured?
*How is my alarm installation department structured?
*How do all of these positions get managed productively?
*What equipment should I sell and install?
*What is normal industry pricing?
*How do I find potential customers?
*How do I efficiently convert these people into clients?
*Who does the monitoring of these alarms?
*How do I hire for all the necessary departments?
*How do I train them and make them accountable to success?
In order to fully understand your options and be able to make decisions that will be both financially beneficial and easily assimilated, you should seek expert advice and training from a singular source if at all possible. This way the programs you learn are designed to interact with each other. Below is a list of the training modules that you will need to learn in order to complete the picture and compete in our field.
Hiring- A sales manager is only as good as their ability to hire new employees. Learning to hire quality employees is multi- faceted endeavor with an emphasis on time management. Seek out the best concepts in ad writing, ad placement, cost controls, ad calls, interview process, time management and employee retention.
Training- Buildings that last the longest are built on the most solid foundations. New hires are evaluating their future with the company on their ability to learn the job as quickly as possible, and to make themselves productive members of a team. Experts will teach you methods of training, and help you add structure and accountability to your in house training programs.
Scheduling- Understanding time management and scheduling, allows you to get the most out of each day without sacrificing or delaying other tasks. A manager must be able to perform all necessary roles without the sinking feeling of never being able to catch up. An employee must be able to attend training and meetings and still be able to use the available workday productively.
Pay Plan- Experts will introduce you to some of the most cutting edge and motivating pay-plans in the industry. If your pay and commission structure is not consistently benefiting the company and its employees equally, it is time to learn about alternative concepts.
Time Management- Explore how all the necessary growth in your Management, Sales and Marketing divisions can be accomplished, taught and maintained on a daily basis, while affecting your bottom line positively from day one.
Accountability- Accountability programs are controlled by both supervisors and the employees that are holding themselves accountable to the highest standards. Learn how to make these programs work for all parties involved. When accountability programs are administered improperly they will create the perception of baby-sitting. When done properly they will provide pride in workmanship, a feeling of accomplishment, and job security.
Reports- Accurate and comprehensive daily record keeping and periodic reports to teammates and officers of the company will keep all players on the same page. Experts can help you design a custom database that will take minimal time for a team manager to maintain. Experts will teach you how to share this information with your superiors and employees alike. A comprehensive daily report is a “Crystal Ball” and will guide your individual training needs.
Forms- There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Experts have a complete database of the forms necessary to maintaining daily training and record keeping in our industry.
Motivation- Learn the methods for team motivation which include employee acknowledgment programs, bonus programs, team display boards and most important, earning genuine loyalty and respect as a manager.
Bonus Programs- Explore new concepts for employee bonus programs that work in conjunction with production growth, without becoming expected and repetitive. Learn how to create the budget for these programs and manage them from request for funding to distribution of bonus awards.
Meetings- Productive team meetings are a privilege and something to look forward to. Are your employees seeing the opportunity to get together with teammates and grow as positive? If your answer is anything less than an exuberant YES, you should be looking for methods of creating positive and constructive team meetings.
Goal Setting- Individual goal setting is the most important tool a quality sales manager has at their disposal, for growing a consistent and loyal employee. It allows you to get to know an individual’s hopes and dreams on a personal level, while helping them to accomplish the steps necessary to success. Experts can review any existing goal setting programs or concepts that you have in place and suggest alternative ways to manage this program.
Lead Production- Explore field proven programs that have been created to increase your dealerships lead production. Residential Referral Programs, Canvas Lead Production, Exhibition Lead Production and Preferred Partner Programs are a few of the methods that should be learned.
Protocol-Consistent handling of each possible situation creates accountability. Learn to teach employees how to report in on all aspects of daily work. Teach employees how any breach in protocol will be recognized and addressed in a constructive manner.
Lead Runners- Develop your lead runners as specialists in the art of the first visit close. All aspects of lead runner’s daily requirements are taught, from time management to the actual processes of:
Rapport, Body Language, Equipment Presentation, Product Knowledge, Cost Analysis, Creating the Greed, Creating the Need,
Assumption, Walk Through, Creating Possession, Take-Away’s,
System Design, Parts Sales, Pre-Pays, Paperwork, Cancel Killers, Self-Generating. (Sales without leads)
Canvasser’s- Masters of the doorstep with proficiency in all the modules above. Teach your canvasser’s not to burn doors, and to stop turning their jobs into door to door sales. An effective canvasser should speak to only four homeowners to put two on paper. This is taught through constant roll playing and attitude adjustment in the arena of creating opportunity. Explore field proven methods of converting your canvasser’s into an elite team of productive experts with a high quality of life as a reward.
Telemarketing- Time tables, concepts and controls for development of an in house telemarketing department for creation of sales and promotion leads.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of all the things that need to be considered when opening an Alarm Company. Set yourself a consultation with an industry expert that can help you decide on the complete structure. This way your chosen path will have continuity and flow, while saving you time getting to where you are going as a
competitor in a complicated but lucrative venture.