Ackerman tests fleet GPS

Monday, May 1, 2006

ATLANTA--A company that offers technologically advanced security systems should have equally sophisticated internal systems, says Bruce Turry, president and chief executive officer of Ackerman Security.
That's why, for the past three years, Turry's technicians have used Nextel devices for tasks such as viewing account history, closing out service tickets and billing customers. Two years ago, Turry bought laptops for his 35 residential sales reps and, this year, the company is testing a GPS system for its fleet vehicles.
Founded in 1992, the company started with seven employees and fewer than 700 accounts. Today Ackerman has 130 employees and more than 30,000 accounts. It has its own UL-listed central station and offers the full range of security and fire services to customers in greater Atlanta and Northern Georgia. Its growing commercial side has many national accounts, "from New York to California. We've been very successful attracting fast food chains and other affiliated businesses," Turry said.
"Sixty percent of sales are residential and 40 percent are commercial," said Jim Callahan, vice president of sales.
Callahan said the laptops ensure consistency in sales presentations, are better for lead management, eliminate the need to return to the office to file papers (the contract process can be initiated via laptop) and have increased sales. "In 2003 our closing rate was approximately 30 percent, that increased to 38 percent on the new system and, thus far in 2006, our closing rate is close to 48 percent," he said.
He emphasized that Ackerman is not a mass-marketer, selling residential systems in the $1,500 to $2,000 range. He estimated that a closing rate of 30 percent is the norm. "To be at 48 percent is considerably above the norm."
The GPS ideally will allow Ackerman to "utilize the fleet in an efficient manner, by properly manning and managing where the vehicles are," said Bill Rawlings, director of operations.
Turry would like to double the account base within five years, and although the company has not previously made any major acquisitions, Turry would jump at the right acquisition candidate, which he said would need to "fit our existing footprint and the company could not be a mass marketing model."