Services shine at central stations

Superior support drives the monitoring market

McCarthy: Our alarm dealers can offer almost any service and develop many revenue streams from both residential and commercial customers. If a device has a sensor, our in-house software analysts and developers can create custom applications to satisfy almost any customer need in any setting. Trained for both commercial and residential alarm systems, EMERgency24 understands that end-users look at us as an extension of their alarm dealer. Each alarm scenario is examined thoroughly to ensure the proper actions are taken and that every communication is accomplished in the utmost efficient and courteous manner. We staff a team of multi-disciplined engineers, software developers and analysts. In fact, our in-house talent installed the operations and data center infrastructure, meaning the servers, telephony and data equipment, to operate our new state-of-the-art central station headquarters facility located in Des Plaines, Ill.

Joseph: We like to think that we are the 'the biggest little central station in the industry.' We are big enough to offer the most sophisticated technologies at reasonable costs and yet small enough to always answer the phone with a SentryNet employee. We know our dealers on a personal level and treat them as individuals with unique personalities and needs. We join them in growing and maintaining their businesses and strive with them every day to reach the ultimate level of success.

Q. How has support changed to keep up with the changing technology and times?

Hoffman: The presence of IT professionals is a must now for central stations. With so many different forms of technology including video, Internet communications, cellular and more, you need people who can keep up with these technologies. Our research department, led by my IT manager, stays up on all the current trends and is constantly testing new products and services so that we can offer them to our dealers. We support most forms of Internet and cellular communication including AlarmNet, Bosch, DSC, UTC (GE), DMP and others, as well as Videofied and other video products.

McCarthy: We have to be able to respond to dealers who use a wide variety of hardware. Our technical staff constantly educates themselves on new products and services so we can give our input as to the viability, marketability and profitability of the industry's latest offerings. In effect, we are our dealers' technical experts. They come to us for technical knowledge, and we have to be ready for their questions and have the right answers they can use.

Joseph: We take a full service approach to delivering services to our dealers. We have a library of "on demand" end-user marketing pieces that dealers can embed their logo on and order small quantities to test a marketing concept or order large quantities for a full scale blitz from our Web site. Our Web portal was developed as a tool for our dealers providing access to reports about their subscriber's accounts in our database. It has evolved over the years to become a vital business tool for the dealers and soon even end-users will have limited access.

Q. What support services do you offer to customers?

Hoffman: In addition to alarm monitoring, we provide billing services and answering services. Our answering services include a voice mail account for each dealer that transmits their messages to their Web-enabled phone via e-mail. We also provide customer-centered marketing materials about our central station to reassure the customer that they have made a great decision to go with their alarm company. We provide both dealers and end-users online access to their accounts.

McCarthy: To keep alarm dealers apprised on the newest service offering, legislation and other issues that impact the security industry, we publish the Transmitter, which is a quarterly print publication. As another value-added service for our dealers, EM24 commits resources to educate end-users about new capabilities and the immense value of a monitored alarm system. The foremost element of this campaign is our end-user newsletter, Security Seeker, which is folded to fit into a billing statement. EM24 also offers billing inserts to alert subscribers of important news that impacts their security. This helps educate end-users about the importance of a monitored alarm system and the latest capabilities and helps dealers minimize attrition and sell new services.

Joseph: Our support department includes experts in business management, alarm technology, IT communications, Web development, sales and marketing and finance. We have a full suite of "Enhanced Services" including: managed and/or hosted access control; hosted video storage; video verification; subscriber billing; answering services; financial consulting; and more. We look at technology and analyze it from the perspective of the independent dealer. We attempt to package technology for the dealer and hand it to them ready to sell.