ADT gets back to basics with dealer training effort

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

LAS VEGAS--Back in the days when ADT was making an acquisition every time you changed your socks, brand new ADT dealers seemed to pop up on city streets daily. Since parent company Tyco International's management imbroglio in 2002, however, ADT has put the brakes on acquisitions, and consequently, most of North America's 540 ADT dealers have at least a little seasoning.
Nevertheless, ADT has kicked off a revamped training program aimed at all ADT dealers, even long-time veterans. The program, which Bill Barnes, ADT's vice president of dealer development, discussed at ISC West, has been in place for about four months and is designed to make all ADT dealers more successful.
"We're holding three-and-a-half-day training sessions in Denver," he said, where the approach is "block-tackling the basics."
On the agenda are: "products, selling, looking at margins, P&L, and how to maximize profitability," Barnes said.
It's easy for a dealer who's got a good business to get complacent, Barnes said, and not realize that there's more money to be made by improving business practices or upselling with additional and upgraded products and services--such as new video products, two-way voice or cell service.
All dealers need to be current with issues such as VoIP as well, he noted. ADT has traditionally held two annual gatherings, one for owners and one for upper management. Those meetings will still take place. The new training program is reflective of ADT's focus, since Ed Breen took over at Tyco International in July of 2002, on organic growth.
"We want to give our dealers ongoing help with their business," Barnes said.
Ann Lindstrom, ADT's director of corporate communications, noted that other than Retail Expert, a recent acquisition on the Tyco Fire & Security side, Tyco hasn't been acquisitive in recent years. "We're really putting our focus on operations and putting metrics behind our business, making sure that a dealer's business is running efficiently and effectively."
The business of ADT home security dealers has progressed from the time when most systems were "free" or "$99 systems," she said, to where the "system is a lifeline and a thing of value and really should include [a variety of] components that could possibly save someone's life. That isn't necessarily cheap anymore." ADT dealers are seeking customers who value the "system and who have layers of protection available to them."