Subscribe to

Blogs

No. 1 ADT dealer: Doing good is good for business

 - 
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

David Lindsey, the founder of Indianapolis-based Defender Direct, the nation’s No. 1 ADT dealer, recently stepped down from his position as CEO to focus on philanthropic mission work and encourage other companies to do the same. He said that will not only help companies do good—but it will do good for their business by increasing things like company dynamics and productivity.

Lindsey is one of the founders of Companies With A Mission, which its web site describes as “a movement dedicated to helping business leaders create opportunities for employees and their families to reap the rewards of service.”

At Defender, which he founded in 1998, Lindsey has had a more informal focus on mission work. Over the past five years, he said, Defender has sent several thousand people down to Mexico to help build 125 homes for the needy there.

Now Lindsey is formally devoting himself to philanthropy as Defender’s chief missions officer. “I look at much of what I’m doing as still an extension of the Defender story,” he told me. “We’ve always been a giving and a missional company and I’m trying to just continue to focus on that piece right now.”

He called Companies With A Mission a “ministry” and said, “We’re taking a lot of things that have been a blessing and powerful for our company and sharing them with other companies …right now our main focus is on U.S. companies [and some Canadian as well], but we do see it as a worldwide effort.”

One plan, he said, is to take as many as 100 business leaders and their families on mission trips to Mexico or the Dominican Republic by the end of the year, “so they can have a mission experience.”

A second objective, he said, is a “service challenge” the ministry is extending to companies. One challenge is in Indianapolis and another will be in New Orleans this fall, he said.

Companies are challenged to put teams together to go out and do community service work at nonprofits, then submit short videos of their work and answer three questions on the ministry’s web site to win prize money for their favorite charities.

In Indianapolis, Lindsey said he expects as many as 100 teams to compete for $100,000 in prize money.

Obviously the charities benefit, but how does that help the businesses?

Lindsey said he knows philanthropy helps companies because Defender tested the service challenge among its own employees before taking it citywide.

“It was a huge success,” he told me. “We worried that during the time we had everyone out doing projects, we’d have our sales go down but actually we’ve had six record months since we started the contest, the two months that we were in the contest, and then the four after.”

He added: “What we attribute that to is we just changed the water cooler conversion at our office. Everybody was buzzing and talking about their service project” [and what other teams were doing] … There’s nothing like the workplace going out and serving together—what that does for the work dynamic is really almost unbelievable.”

He said about half Defender’s teams are continuing to do community service on a regular basis. “It just brings a life and a spirit into our company that’s making a difference, and we want to share that with more companies and help them see that increased productivity, as well as the retention, recruiting and loyalty … that has been enhanced by this,” Lindsey said.

Bonifas heading home after being stranded on remote island

 - 
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Talk about overages.

Stranded on a remote island in the South Atlantic with more than 70 other travelers, Bob Bonifas had the distinction of being the only person with a satellite phone. That meant using a lot of minutes: about 1,500 as of Wednesday, with five or six more days of dialing ahead until the group finally gets back to the mainland.

Bonifas, president and CEO of Aurora, Ill.-based Alarm Detection Systems, is among 73 passengers who were diverted to South Georgia Island last week aboard Plancius, a 293-foot polar cruise ship. The vessel was en route from Argentina to Ascension Island on a 31-day sightseeing tour, but engine problems brought the trip to an early end. That resulted in nine-day stay on South Georgia, a desolate former whaling outpost near Antarctica that doesn’t have much to offer beyond gulls and grass.

The layover wasn't easy for Bonifas.

“He’s not a guy who sits around a lot,” said Connie Busby, Bonifas' daughter, who told Security Systems News on Tuesday that she had talked to her father every day of his layover via his satellite phone. “On the nice days like yesterday—he said it was 45 and sunny—they did get out and do some hiking. There’s a chapel on the island that’s not inhabited, and they went to that on Sunday and just kind of hung out for awhile.”

A chartered relief ship picked up Bonifas and his fellow passengers Wednesday and is bringing them to Uruguay. They are expected to arrive on April 24.

Bonifas isn’t a stranger to spending time in remote places. He is ranked No. 3 on MostTraveledPeople.com, a website that tracks adventurers trying to become the first to visit 872 global destinations. South Georgia Island was the 800th destination for Bonifas, but his quest is on hold while he bides his time and tacks on phone minutes.

“When you’re an extreme world traveler, I guess sooner or later it kind of catches up to you, and I guess it did this time,” Busby said.  

Technology pays off in hands of techs, sales reps

 - 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

There’s a growing trend in the security industry of companies leveraging the latest technology by putting it in the hands of their frontline employees out in the field. A recent story I wrote about ADT putting iPads in the hands of its 4,000 sales reps to help boost sales is a good example.

Here’s another example, announced today by Vivint, the Provo, Utah-based home automation/home security giant. The company says it has developed a new app for field service technicians that makes them more productive.

Here’s more from Vivint’s April 11 news release:
 

The app was developed completely in-house, and was designed specifically to address the needs of Vivint service technicians, who are stationed throughout Vivint’s service area. By using the app, technicians can receive schedules, manage inventory and interact with the customer service center remotely – spending less time in planning and logistics and more time working with customers. Built using HTML5, the web-based application enables technicians to access the information they need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently from wherever they are on any internet-enabled mobile devices.

“What we’ve developed with this Vivint app has really increased the functionality of what we had been using before, and we couldn’t be happier with the results so far,” said Scott Taylor, director of field services. “This app will really help us give our customers the high level of service they have come to expect from Vivint. We’ve already seen response time increase by 20 percent.”

Since rolling out the new app, the first-time fix rate average for Vivint customers has increased to 95 percent. Other features that increase productivity and efficiency include a mapping option that provides the best route to get to a job and a tech-locating element that helps Vivint technicians connect with other technicians in the area.

 

ADT announces new management line-up

 - 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Taking another step toward independence, ADT on April 10 announced the post-split management line-up, highlighting the appointment of Kathryn Mikells and laying out ADT North America’s financials, key performance metrics, strategic priorities and more in a Form 10 registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The form says that Tyco, ADT’s parent company, “does not intend to comment publicly on ADT Form 10.” Tyco announced in September 2011 that it would split into three separate, publicly traded entities: Flow Control; the The ADT Corporation; and Tyco International (comprised of Tyco Integrated Security and Fire).

In addition to Mikells, the management team reporting to Naren Gursahaney—current president of Tyco’s ADT North American residential and small business security segment and future CEO of The ADT Corporation—will include David Bleisch, legal; Anita Graham, HR; Don Boerema, corporate development; Mark Edoff, Business Optimization; Steve Gribbon, sales; Shawn Lucht operations. The eighth member of the team, in charge of marketing will be announced in the future.

Not listed on the managemtnt roster is John Koch, current president of ADT, who plans to leave ADT, sources told Security Systems News.

According to the filing, ADT had 2011 operating income of $693 million and revenue of $3.1 billion, with 89 percent of that revenue being recurring. It has 6.4 million customers and estimates that it owns 25 percent of the $12.5 billion residential and small business security market in the U.S. and Canada. A chart says ADT and IMS Research estimate that Protection 1 has 4 percent of that market, Monitronics has 3 percent and Vivint has 2 percent. “Thousands of others” share the remaining 66 percent of the market.

Among ADT’s stated strategies is growing its small business segment. ADT said it will expand its  “small business field sales force, which currently represents only about one-third of our overall direct sales force. We plan to provide strengthened small business marketing support to this enhanced sales force, including by building a larger, more robust partner network to improve our lead generation capabilities and by assisting in marketing additional value-added services, including ADT Pulse,” according to the Form 10 statement.

ADT intends to continue to “explore opportunities to provide ADT-branded solutions through additional channels, including telecommunications companies, broadband and cable companies, retailers and public and private utilities.”

“In addition, through our efficient operating model we believe we can significantly reduce the cost of basic security installation and services, opening up the potential for a much larger portion of households to purchase monitored security,” the form says.

Metrics noted on the filing include the following: The company’s attrition rate dropped from 14.3 percent in 2009 to 13.3 percent in 2010 to 13 percent in 2011, while ARPU (average revenue per user) went from $35.92 in 2009 to $36.10 in 2010 to $37.24 in 2011.

On the appointment of Mikells, Gursahaney  said in a prepared statement: “Kathryn brings impressive financial leadership expertise and a proven track record of managing transformation while driving financial discipline,”

Mikells, joins ADT from Nalco, a water treatment and energy technology company, where she was CFO. Previously, she worked for 16 years for UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, where she was EVP and CFO.

Can Tweets hurt your central?

 - 
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Social networking is a double-edged sword. It can be a boon to communication, but an ill-advised post can rebound to haunt you—and maybe your central—even if it’s quickly deleted.

So how do you manage the use of these sites and actually get them to help your business?

A CSAA webinar, “Social Media in the Central Station,” will take on the topic from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 18. The session will be presented by Annie Roderick, monitoring center manager for Wayne Alarm Systems of Lynn, Mass., and Melissa Courville, a marketing executive with DICE Corp. and chairwoman of the CSAA Social Media Committee.

“Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter … give way to fast blurb results that can be easily found over the Internet at any time, sometimes linking to your business,” Courville said. “Not only are these social media outlets quick and easy to use, but they offer both helpful and hurtful connotations to business reputations.”

The webinar, adapted from material shared at the 2011 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar, will teach attendees how to harness the power of networking sites and how to address central station staff about their use. Case studies will be shared to illustrate the do’s and don’ts.

Space for the session is limited. To reserve a seat, go to the CSAA registration site.

Fire alarm + ECS = Award-winning combo

 - 
Friday, April 6, 2012

I wrote recently about a new “all-in-one” fire alarm and emergency communications system just introduced by Silent Knight by Honeywell. Now the new Farenhyt Emergency Communications System has been honored by the Security Industry Association with an award.

The company says the combo fire alarm/emergency communications systems is an easy and cost-effective way to respond to a growing demand by such customers as schools, hospitals and government and military facilities for more than just a fire alarm system so they can also address emergencies such as severe weather or an armed intruder. And SIA categorized the Farenhyt ECS as one of the “leading edge” products helping to drive the industry forward.

Here’s more from a Honeywell news release today:
 

NORTHFORD, Conn.—Silent Knight by Honeywell announces its new Farenhyt Emergency Communications System has been recognized by SIA (Security Industry Association) as the top Mass Notification solution in the 2012 NPS (New Products Showcase) competition. In its 33rd year, this annual SIA contest received 70 entries, all vying for the top seed in one of 21 categories.

"Once again, the companies competing in the NPS presented the kinds of leading edge entries that are the hallmark of the program," states SIA CEO Don Erickson. "These new technologies and solutions are the drivers that are moving the security industry forward."

Silent Knight's Farenhyt ECS (Emergency Communications System) provides both cutting-edge fire protection and a system for broadcasting real-time communications within a facility, big or small. By integrating mass notification capabilities with its proven fire alarm technology, Silent Knight aims to offer an all-in-one system that is easy-to-use, cost-effective and benefits from the stringent requirements placed on fire alarm systems …

The Farenhyt ECS line delivers real-time, intelligible communications over a completely supervised system that meets the latest NFPA 72, UL 2572 and Department of Defense (DoD) standards. Farenhyt ECS control panels include customizable switches for as many as 15 pre-recorded messages and a microphone for live paging - all simple-to-use technology which enables users to direct general or emergency communications to all or select areas of a facility.

As many as seven Farenhyt ECS-RCUs (Remote Command Units) can tie into a facility's Farenhyt ECS and be conveniently placed throughout a facility to provide a quick means for live paging. Complete operation of fire alarm and ECS functions can also be performed through an ECS-RCU, which is UL-listed and meets the DoD mass notification system requirements of an LOC (Local Operator Console).

The Farenhyt ECS runs on most wire-types, making it a cost-effective retrofit option when existing fire alarm wire is used. Fire alarm speaker intelligibility requirements combined with regular system testing code mandates ensure this integrated fire alarm and ECS communicates clearly and is well maintained.”

For more information go to www.farenhyt.com.

 

NPR program rips industry over false alarms

 - 
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

American Public Media’s “Marketplace” weighed in on false alarms this week, with the featured guest delivering a decidedly unfavorable verdict for the security industry: Alarm customers might be better off relying on a dog.

Program host Kai Ryssdal interviewed Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics.com, who cited a litany of figures and study results that don’t reflect well on alarm companies. Here’s a bit of what Dubner had to say on the show, which aired on National Public Radio:

—“We talked to Simon Hakim, an economist at Temple who’s been studying this issue for a long time. He says that in a given year, U.S. police respond to more than 35 million alarm activations. … Something like 95 percent of them are false alarms and the cost is about $2 billion.”

—“Financial analysts say that industry leader ADT ... has an operating margin of about 25 percent on roughly $3 billion [in] annual revenues. So these false alarms pose what economists call a negative externality. That is, the provider charges you for the service, but then they pass along a big part of their costs to someone else. In this case, the police departments and the taxpayers who support them.”

—“Well, it’s probably a good idea to make the alarm companies more accountable in some fashion, including having them make alarms that don’t fail so often. … As for me, I think I’m just going to ditch my new alarm that seems to go off every five minutes.”

Dubner then referred to his new deterrent—growling can be heard in the background—and told Ryssdal, “Go ahead. Make my dog’s day.”

On the positive side, Dubner quoted Hakim as saying that alarm systems deter burglars to some degree, citing “the sign in the yard and the threat of the alarm and the police.” He also quoted Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, who said false alarms are SIAC’s “No. 1 priority. This is the one issue that we have decided has to be addressed.”

The incidence of user error was briefly mentioned, along with the move toward more video monitoring to verify whether an alarm call is legit. But that was about it for the bouquets, which points to the long-standing need to better educate customers and improve relationships with law enforcement to reduce false dispatches.

It’s either that or the doghouse.  

A Platinum Protection founder goes solar

 - 
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chance Allred, one of the founders of Platinum Protection, has come home to Vivint again—in a way.

Platinum, a summer-model sales company based in American Fork, Utah, in February this year abruptly laid off virtually all its employees and shut down its summer sales program. The company, founded in 2006, hasn’t talked publicly about the reasons why, but it appears to be in severe financial distress.

Since then, Vivint, a summer-model giant based in Provo, Utah, has hired about 130 of the unemployed Platinum sales reps, Vivint told me. It’s not clear what percentage of Platinum’s former sales force that represents, but it’s just 4 percent of Vivint’s sales force, that company said.

In addition, Allred in March was hired as VP of sales for Vivint Solar, a sister company of Vivint that offers residential customers the opportunity to purchase power generated by Vivint solar panels on their homes.

That’s kind of interesting because before helping to found Platinum, Allred used to work for APX Alarm, which is what Vivint was called before it rebranded last year to highlight the fact it offers home automation and other services beyond security.

Great finale in Vegas; onward to ESX

 - 
Monday, April 2, 2012

ISC West 2012 is in the books.

As expected, Day Three was a bit quieter than the opening two acts, but there was still plenty of action for those who chose to stay for the duration. Here are a few details from my stops on the final day:

— Don Maden, executive VP for COPS Monitoring, said the company is putting the final cosmetic touches on its new central station in Dallas, with an anticipated opening sometime in May. COPS has also rebranded its COP-A-Link online management tool for dealers as MPower and has added "a whole series of technical improvements to make the customer experience more seamless."

— Uplink VP Michael Gregory provided a rundown of new offerings from his company, including the Uplink 5100 universal broadband alarm communicator. The device is the company's "first broadband solution," enabling a dial-up alarm system to transmit signals and two-way voice over an Internet connection.

— Micro Key Solutions President Victoria Ferro detailed the company's new WebTech app, which gives technicians access to accounts in the field with any Web-enabled device. "It gives techs remote access to tickets, Google directions, signature capture and credit card payments," she said. "It's green, reduces the costs of paper, and provides better customer service by putting information at [techs'] fingertips."

— Wayne Alter, chairman of the board for Dynamark Monitoring, was still meeting-and-greeting during the final two hours of ISC West. Alter, who was joined by Tom Piston, VP of sales and marketing, and Michael Hutcher, VP of product services, said it had been "a great show" for the Hagerstown, Md.-based company.

That sentiment seemed to be echoed across the expanse of the Sands Expo, with many exhibitors predicting better days ahead for the industry as the economy continues to rebound. As the show ended and the booths were broken down, thoughts turned to the next big event on the calendar. For the monitoring industry, that means ESX.

See you in Nashville ...

Onward through the blog: Day Two at ISC West

 - 
Friday, March 30, 2012

ISC West kept up a strong head of steam on Day Two.

It started at 7:30 a.m. with the Security 5K to benefit Mission 500, a nonprofit group that aids impoverished children. An impressive turnout of runners raised an equally impressive funding total, according to race organizers, and the group later said it had topped its goal of 500 children sponsored.

Then it was on to the show floor for another day of networking and discussion among the thousands, with no letup from Day One’s brisk pace. Here are a few details from my stops along the way:

— Secure Global Solutions announced a May 1 launch for a new app, Stages Metrix, that will give users tablet access to key central station performance figures.
— Keith Jentoft of Videofied provided an update of the growing alliance between insurers, law enforcement and central stations to increase arrests and reduce false dispatches with the use of video alarms.
— Cliff Dice of Dice Corp. detailed his company’s Matrix software, which brings video into a browser environment and opens the door to continuous RMR for integrators.
— Morgan Hertel, the new VP of operations for Rapid Response, disclosed that the company is planning to build a new central station in the West sometime in the next year.
— Gordon Hope of AlarmNet at Honeywell talked about the move to 4G and the June 1 release of the LYNX Touch 5100 wireless control panel with Wi-Fi communications module, which finds the best signal—2G, 3G or 4G—in the user’s area.

Like Day One, there was obviously much more, but I’ll put it to bed for now and gear up for tomorrow’s finale. See you there …  

 

Pages