Guardian minds its business in Detroit

Commercial sales climb in Q1
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SOUTHFIELD, Mich.—With commercial installs up 37.2 percent in the first quarter this year compared to last, business at Guardian Alarm has been as good in 2010 as its new president predicted at the end of 2009.

“We did what we said,” David Goldstein, Guardian president said, referring to a prediction of increased sales he made in an interview with Security Systems News in December.

Goldstein, a former ADT executive, took over as president of Guardian Alarm in August of last year. Owned by the Pierce family since 1930 (several family members are among the executive staff), Guardian is a 600-person super-regional security company and central station, with a 60-40 mostly commercial account balance.

Guardian’s residential business is doing swimmingly as well. “We were doing 105 residential installs a month. Over the past three months we’re averaging 300 new systems a month. We’ve increased RMR by 18 percent and installation revenue by 23 percent,” Goldstein said.

He’s beefed up the sales staff, hiring back some former Guardian sales stars who’d gone elsewhere, and he’s changed the sales management structure slightly. Goldstein now has two sales managers who report directly to him: One commercial sales manager who has nine new commercial reps and seven customer service reps, and one residential sales manager who has 11 new sales reps and 4 customer service representatives.

The structure serves to keep the two separate, with one exception. “Each commercial rep is required to sell two residential accounts per month,” Goldstein said. These reps are calling on company owners, so they use that opportunity to sell home systems to company owners. “If we’re protecting your business, we may as well protect your home,” he said.

“That adds up to 25 systems a month, which is like having another residential sales rep,” Goldstein explained. His commercial reps have to meet their resi quota to qualify for a promotional trip, and at the very least “they make $100 extra for each resi sale.”

On the resi side, Guardian is selling a lot more Airlink radio transmission. Airlink, made by AES, is competitor to GSM back-up. “We propose it to all of our customers and we have a 35-percent hit rate.”

Guardian’s first radio advertising campaign in 10 years is also driving residential sales. “Program leads have doubled,” Goldstein said, who installed Salesforce.com when he joined Guardian to track leads among other things.  “And we attribute that the radio ads.”

On the commercial side, sales reps have gone back to existing customers to offer services they didn’t have “we do a lot of CCTV, a lot of replacing black-and-white cameras with DVRs or event-triggered CCTV. We’re updating cameras to IP cameras.”

The biggest success, he said, has come from recruiting back successful sales reps. “We’re minding our own business,” he said. “And believe it or not, in the Michigan area there’s a lot of opportunity.”