Fortress Security’s Houston expansion nets customers, techs

The company also plans wider regional expansion across Texas and into Oklahoma
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas—Fortress Security, based here, expanded its reach into the Houston metro area this summer, drawn by a strong demand for its services, a slightly larger Houston market and a larger pool of technicians, said company founder and owner Jerrod Smith.

“The technician availability was a big one,” Smith told Security Systems News. He estimated that, based on market research, for every one technician for hire in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) market, where Fortress is based, “there are four in Houston.”

Fortress, a 13-year-old company whose business currently is about 70 percent residential and 30 percent commercial, also plans to introduce service to Austin and San Antonio by the end of 2015 and in Oklahoma after that, Smith said.

He predicted that Fortress’ account base in DFW “will nearly triple in size over the next three years.” Also, he said, “the addition of the Houston market will aid Fortress in its goal of becoming a strong regional player providing both Texas home security systems and Houston home security systems.”

Since Fortress expanded into Houston, it’s already seeing results, Smith said. He declined to reveal specific figures regarding the company’s accounts and revenues, but said that on a month-to-month basis, Fortress saw a 30 percent increase in new Houston home and business security systems customers the first month after the launch and a 31 percent increase the second month.

The company does a little bit of door knocking but mostly it sells through “a lot of online marketing, a little bit of offline marketing and a lot of referral business,” Smith said. “We’re getting about one referral of a new customer for every three installs, so every third customer is getting us a new customer.”

The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Smith said customers give Fortress five-star ratings because “we are a small company and we take a little more time with our customers in the sales process and also the installation process and then … making our customers feel like they’re not just completely forgotten about after the install is really important to us.”

The company didn’t establish a brick-and-mortar office in Houston at this point. It has found technicians are more efficient and it is more cost effective to give the techs fully stocked, branded trucks and have them work from home. “We’ve got everything on i-Pads and our system is all in the cloud and it makes sense just to dispatch from home,” Smith said.

Launching in Houston opens a gateway to Austin and San Antonio, Smith said. “Geographically, [Houston] is obviously a much closer base than DFW would be, so when we have some installation overflow that we need techs to handle, it would be much easier for them to go from Houston to Austin for support than it would be from DFW to Austin,” Smith explained.

Smith said Fortress also is preparing strategically to offer commercial access control systems in all markets very soon. “We are experiencing a lot of demand from our existing commercial clients in the greater Houston area and we feel the timing is right for us,” he said. Fortress aims to have its residential/commercial mix eventually be 50/50, Smith said.