Washington Alarm changes tack with fire business

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Monday, August 2, 2010

SEATTLE—Offering bundled services to their existing and prospective fire customers has helped keep Washington Alarm's fire business cooking during the current construction slump.

"[If we don't already] we get a radio in there, do the annual inspection, and we also build in monitoring and maintenance," said Shannon Woodman, VP of Washington Alarm.

Based here, Washington Alarm is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Founded by Woodman's grandfather, Washington Alarm is a full-service, mostly commercial security company with a central station. Roughly 70 percent of its commercial work is in fire. The company is a Silent Knight dealer, has 42 employees and 5,600 subscribers.

Washington Alarm is requiring longer contracts with its bundled services offering. "We offer some incentives, a couple months free monitoring or one year of free inspections," she said. The program, which Washington Alarm started about one year ago, is working well. In fact, it may lead to another full-time position, Woodman said "if it keeps going the way it has been."

"We have a lot of subscribers now on a five-year agreement," Woodman said. Normally, property managers don't like to sign agreements for longer than a year, she said, but they like this particular offering, and it helps that Washington Alarm has been doing business here for decades: "They know we do a good job at their existing properties, and they're willing to make that switch with [this offer] with their other properties."