Q. Are dealers taking advantage of these support services?
Hoffman: Yes and no. As with any service, some of the dealers will use everything, while others do not take advantage of the services or already have existing processes set up.
McCarthy: A good example of this is one of our dealers who recently took over a large account with multiple locations. The subscriber's hardware was 10 years old and there were difficulties connecting with the central station, as they previously used their local phone service providers. Drawing from our in-house experience-we have other dealers who use the same technology-we shared our experience with this product and reviewed the situation. Ultimately, we determined it was a phone provider issue. The issue was resolved once we supplied the toll-free lines to connect to our central stations.
Joseph: Our dealers' profiles range from small family businesses to corporations with many layers of management. Larger corporations that have the resources to analyze and direct activities are obviously much quicker on the uptake. Smaller companies focus on day-to-day survival. They are always interested and eager to learn new technologies and services but it takes them a little longer to adopt them.
Q. What are some of the critical needs of monitored accounts today?
Hoffman: We live in a "get it now" society and alarms are finally starting to catch up to those needs. Everything has an app, yet very few alarm panels are providing that service. Consumers demand instant access and I think this will only continue to grow in the future. It is important that as an industry we recognize this trend and meet it head on. With the announcement that POTS lines will be going away soon, reliable cellular and Internet communication must be built into every alarm panel. While the instant technology is important, customers still need a live person to talk to when they have a problem. Customer service will continue to be the differentiating factor between the mass market companies and the local alarm dealer and the independent central station.
McCarthy: Our subscribers always have direct access to a live person-you can't replace that type of service with an auto-attendant. As for applications, our goal is to streamline the process to help our dealers become more efficient in their day-to-day operations.
Joseph: We see more end-user participation in their systems. The new technologies are developed for end-users and they want or need remote access to more and more of their systems. Large companies like ADT or Protection One spend marketing dollars advertising to the public. Independent dealers need to be able to compete on a level ground. The central station needs to provide the independent dealer that ability to compete. We believe that SentryNet provides that capability to our dealers. We have those technologies and we offer that support.
HOW TO FIND A CS PARTNER
Just as with any aspect of the business, who you keep company with in the central station monitoring market is key to an integrator's success. Central stations have long been working to help the systems integrator. Here are some things you can look for in your monitoring provider:
A good fit; do they have a philosophy that's in tune to yours and your company?
Look for a range of support services; from marketing and technical expertise to that ever-important phone call answered by a live person and with the name of your company.
Find providers who are up on communications, for example, have the latest radio, cellular and Internet technologies and are always one-up on what's coming next.
Curt Harler specializes in the construction and electronics industries. He can be reached at email@example.com.