Don’t run from DIY, pros say at ESX 2015

Learn from it and leverage it
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Monday, July 6, 2015

BALTIMORE—DIY is everywhere, the consumer-driven products are polished and are connected to powerful mobile apps, and it’s up to traditional security companies to decide whether they’re going to embrace it or dismiss it, according to panelists at ESX 2015.

“DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity?” was moderated by Kirk MacDowell of Alarm.com. Brian Leland, VP sales and marketing of Interlogix, and Sterling Barnes, COO/GM of Melaleuca Security, were panelists.

DIY security is the fastest growing security market, and traditional security providers would be wise to learn from it, because there’s a lot to be learned, Leland said during the June 24 discussion, here.

Both the business-to-consumer market and the business-to-business professional channels have taken off, and Interlogix is leveraging the latter, he said.

The tech revolution and the Internet of Things, crowdfunding and the marketing impacts of social media along, importantly, with consumers’ desire to be connected 24 hours a day are driving the market, he said. That’s why Interlogix views DIY as a long-term strategy and will continue to work closely with its partners on it, he said.

DIY is nothing really that new, Barnes said. Big-box stores have tried to get into security for a number of years and previous attempts have failed. “But is it different this time? I think it is,” he said.

He gave a long list of those marketing DIY security products, including Protect America, FrontPoint Security, SimpliSafe, LiveWatch, Costco, Lowe’s, Amazon, ADT and Google.

“But I don’t think we have to directly compete,” Barnes said. “Our customers come to us because they want a professionally installed system” and professional monitoring.

His company has a tiered technician system. Customers who call in wanting to know how to replace a battery to those who have more serious issues speak to appropriately trained reps, he said.

“We’ve FaceTimed with old ladies to put their own thermostats in,” he said.

In addition, he said there are three ways to market to customers and “all of the business models work out in a similar fashion” when it comes to the bottom line. A traditional alarm company or dealer program has a “low down-payment option.” Then there’s the more aggressive marketer, such as a summer sales company that has higher equipment costs and higher monthly monitoring to offset those costs. The third model is the “very inexpensive DIY company that has low equipment costs, no technician costs … and low monitoring charges.”

“There are blurred lines,” Barnes said.

Panelists said customers will want some of the DIY features they hear about from their providers, but marketing by DIY companies will only help the industry.

The panelists said they didn’t expect DIY to “cheapen the industry” or drive down what customers perceive to a reasonable price. Attrition and customer satisfaction are what matters.

DIY is blending with the traditional security model, MacDowell said. “Next year we’ll be talking about MIY [Monitor-It-Yourself].”