Knocking door-knocking

Readers overwhelmingly disapprove of the summer-model
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine--Summer-model sales companies and door-to-door salespeople have been in the news lately, with demands for a code of ethics and industry-initiated law suits against individual door-to-door salespeople dominating headlines. To see what its readers thought, Security Systems News conducted an opinion poll from late July through early August. Is the summer-model legitimate? Is a code of ethics necessary to regulate door-to-door salespeople? What has the impact of the summer-model been on the industry as a whole?

As of August 3, roughly 33 percent of voters thought going door-to-door was a "great way to generate new accounts." Far fewer of you--roughly 18 percent--were lukewarm on the topic, claiming you thought whatever worked was fine. The greatest portion of voters were of the opinion that going door-to-door was not legitimate, with roughly 49 percent knocking the sales practice.

Industry consultant Albert Janjigian, of Watertown, Mass.-based Expedeum, says legitimacy means simply that the model gets results, not that it is necessarily desirable. "Unfortunately, the model has seemed to be extraordinarily effective from a sales perspective," Janjigian said. "If the model were tweaked such that it provided decent service, perhaps it should be an approach that the industry needs to investigate."

The second question in the poll asked if the NBFAA's general code of ethics ( was sufficient to govern door-to-door salespeople. Roughly 15 percent of you said yes. Nearly double that number--27 percent--voted the general code of ethics was not sufficient. Perhaps tellingly, the majority of readers who voted--a little more than 59 percent--had, in fact, never read the NBFAA general code of ethics.

Fort Smith, Ariz.-based Guard Tronic's regional manager Jordon Brown believes the industry has no place getting involved in a code of ethics. "It is the state's responsibility to determine what is appropriate for their state," Brown said. "National associations, including NESA, have the responsibility of educating alarm companies, employees, and to a large part, customers, on ethics and professionalism."

Mark Matlock, senior VP of San Antonio-based United Central Control, believes a code of ethics is definitely needed. "A real code of ethics needs to be adopted and the offenders must be punished. The sanctity of existing alarm contracts must be protected and upheld, as well," Matlock said.

The poll's final question on the impact of door-to-door sales on the industry as whole showed the biggest discrepancy in votes. Almost 15 percent of you thought door-knocking had a positive impact, introducing the industry to those who would otherwise remain ignorant. But almost 74 percent believed door-knocking negatively impacted the industry and angered potential customers with pushy and dishonest tactics.

Rick Echternacht, GM of Edina, Minn.-based National Home Security--an authorized GE and HAI dealer--thinks door-to-door sales damage the industry. "The high pressure tactics used by many of the salespersons door-to-door gives all of us dealers a bad name," Echternacht said. "If door-to-door is allowed to continue, then the companies that do use it must police their employees and not allow them to bully/high pressure the potential customer."

Sean Bell, IT director for Orem, Utah-based Pinnacle Security, agrees there is an issue, but lobbies for a more balanced view of the summer-model. "The negative publicity seen in the news represents a very small percentage of these companies' total sales," Bell said. "As an employee of one of the largest summer sales companies, I know firsthand the extreme amount of effort that goes into maintaining our reputation and that of the alarm industry."