Unlike the typical quick-turn sale, Black Lab often will be on an installation for hundreds of hours. “These jobs are time consuming and tie up labor,” Broyard continued. “We sell the job at a profit. We try not to lose money on installations.”
Billing, contracting and collections must be resolved in light of state laws. Some states have licensing requirements to sell security systems. Typically, an alarm dealer will carry special insurance that an A/V dealer will not have.
Broyard likes his niche. He said there are not many security companies who concentrate on serving the custom, high-end residential market.
That may be because most dealers focus on signing up monitored alarm accounts.
He said too many security companies are unwilling to adapt to the new panels they may find on a job. “You have to be willing to work with different cameras that work with your displays and touchscreens,” he added.
“That is our business model,” Broyard said. “Knowing what to integrate with which panel made a huge difference. We can work with the A/V company and the builders like that. It makes life easier for the builder—we are easy to work with.”
Todd is a graduate of the University of Vermont. His wife, Michele, is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island in finance and she assists with the day-to-day operations. He started in the alarm business 22 years ago in Hartford, Conn., working with Doug Curtis at Sonitrol Communications Corp. “It was a great operation and I got great training,” Broyard recalled. He moved to the Boston area and worked with Curtis Anderson, president of Sonitrol of Boston, for a year and then transitioned into distribution with Varitec Inc.
In October, 1994, he decided to go into business on his own. However, he had no network with the upper crust. “I had nobody to tap,” he said. So, he went to the building departments in the upper-end Boston suburbs and looked to see who had pulled building permits. “I was hungry.” He cold-called job sites and got some work. Eventually, an electrical contractor he knew introduced him to a top-end contractor. He followed through with premium work execution and was in a good position to talk to other premier builders.
“Word spread that we had a good group of technicians,” Broyard said. Now, they are one of a couple of companies that work on the $20 million to $40 million single-family home jobs.
“These customers, both the contractors and the homeowners, require special handling.” –Todd Broyard
Not many security companies concentrate on the custom, high-end residential market. Some accounts generate $700 a month in revenue.—Todd Broyard