Security Options ahead of curve on retailing security

Oklahoma company has had a security store for several years; now Comcast, AT&T, others are following suit
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY—The president of Security Options feels validated by the fact that big companies such as Comcast, AT&T and Lowe’s are now selling home security in a retail setting. That’s because his 50-employee company has had a home security store for several years now.

“Every time I see what they’re doing, I think, ‘I guess if they’re making those decisions, we made a good decision.’ Those guys usually do a good bit of marketing research and figure out what works and we’re really pleased with our results and we’re ahead of it,” Ryan Harvey told Security Systems News.

Harvey said he and his brother-in-law founded Security Options, based here, in his garage 10 years ago. Today, the company has 50 employees and is located in a 12,000-square-foot building. And the fact that it’s the anchor tenant in a strip mall is a factor in the company’s success, Harvey said.

“I’ve got a traffic count of about 110,000 cars a day,” he said. “We built in this location about three years ago and it’s really proven to be one of our better moves over the years.”

The company saw its revenue climb in 2012 by about $800,000, an increase of 15 to 20 percent, Harvey said. And he said of 2013, “I’m thinking this could be our best year ever. … We’re probably on pace for a higher increase over last year.”

Security Options, whose business is about 50 percent residential, was ahead of the curve when it comes to the new trend of both large and small companies selling security in a retail environment.

For example, cablco Comcast is selling its Xfinity Home product in special Xfinity Customer Centers nationwide and telecom AT&T is selling Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, in its retail stores as a key part of its sales strategy. Retail giant Lowe’s also recently announced it is selling its Iris product not only its own stores but in Verizon Wireless stores.

In addition, a small, traditional security company, Madison, Miss.-based The Alarm Company, says the retail location it opened in September has proved a success.

Harvey said he got the idea some years back from looking at places like Office Depot and Home Depot.

Harvey said he thought, “There needs to be a place where people can specialize in just security. We looked at doing Security Depot [as his store’s name] at one time, but knew there would be trade name issue. But anyway we knew there had to be spot where somebody could just come and more or less grab something off the shelf. If they want to install it themselves, that’s fine, but we do prefer the integration side. And that’s part of our model, explaining to folks: ‘This is what we do, we know exactly what we’re doing and you pick what you want, you know what your cameras are, and we’ll come out the next day to install it.”

He said the Security Options store is “right off the main highway and one of the only security stores here.” The company, which does a lot of telemarketing, also has its phone room, warehouse and administrative offices at the site. It’s currently occupying only half the available space, so has an extra 6,000 square feet it can grow into, he said.

Harvey described the Security Options store as unique. He said, “It’s kind of wide open. We have pepper spray, we have Tasers, we have a lot of things really to get consumers inside the door. And then from there is what’s different: They get to pick out their keypad, different styles of keypads, they get to see live access control, they can actually log on from their phone and see the cameras, so we’ve got an interactive showroom here that’s really done wonders for us.”

And he said his staff is much more knowledgeable than the employees customers might encounter when considering a DIY security system at a big-box store. At the Security Options store, Harvey said, “you can pick up a camera system [and] really have … someone explain it to you. … That’s really key—folks coming in appreciate they can sit here and ask questions all day.”