Dealers: Grow through differentiating, new technology

Turn challenges into opportunity in today’s marketplace, they say
Wednesday, April 15, 2015

LAS VEGAS—Brand awareness and embracing technological advances like video verification, home automation and the cloud are among the main challenges facing mid-size security dealers today, according to three dealers attending the DMP Owners Forum here.

Those challenges, though, also present opportunities for companies to succeed in a very competitive and changing industry, the dealers told Security Systems News during an informal roundtable discussion after the annual DMP event. Differentiation and promoting new technology is key.

“We have to show customers why we’re different from big national companies and different from the small, small companies who are less expensive,” said John Bazyk, director of sales and marketing for Command Corporation, based in East Granby, Conn.

Command Corporation, which has 30 employees, started out in the high-end commercial side of the industry. “Our techs are trained in high-end, so we play that up to customers, that when they install your residential system this is not some 20-year-old installer, this is someone [who is highly trained] who has made it his career. That’s our differentiation,” Bazyk said.

Dustin Reeves, sales manager for Blue Ridge Security Solutions in Anderson, S.C., agreed that brand awareness is a challenge that requires the right message to customers in order to compete with “the big guys.”

“It’s hard for customers to understand. We separate ourselves with our customer service. We tell them that we own our own central station and that our longevity in the marketplace makes us different,” said Reeves, whose company employs 88.

Customer service is also a key differentiator for Hackett Security in St. Louis, Mo. So is meeting technological challenges, said president and CEO Michael Hackett, whose company has 75 employees. “End users want to use their smartphones. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon to know that the smartphone [and its use in security] is here to stay. The biggest challenge is to be sticky,” Hackett said.

Opportunity comes from home automation and connectedness, Hackett said. Thirty years ago about 21 percent to 24 percent of people had alarm systems in their homes and that number remains about the same, he said.

“What percentage of homes in your market have alarms? Our opportunity [to grow] comes through the connected house," he said, citing the popularity of video verification. “You can check on your dog.”

Alarm verification will “completely change the industry,” Reeves said. “It’s going to be a requirement.”

“Eight to nine years ago we were doing video verification on an industrial basis, now we will move it to the residential level. That’ll be a big plus,” Hackett said. He added the caveat that the alarms need to be monitored at all times because customers don’t always have their smartphones with them.

The cloud is a game-changer, too, the dealers said.

“I love the cloud. The cloud helps roll out new features,” Bazyk said.