While this may be the big job you've dreamed about doing someday, your alarm company may not be able to afford the extended payout and longer timeframe schedule typical of these bigger projects. Make sure all installers are well-versed on OSHA safety requirements since the project manager most likely will be keeping a close eye on your technicians. OSHA isn't the only one that can throw your installers off the job- so, again, read your contract.
Have your residential salespeople take their winning personalities to the small business owner to help you get your feet wet in this scaled down market. Since the residential fire alarm requirements are fairly easy to learn, your home security salespeople should already be selling smoke and heat detection. Most homeowners already realize that a burglar may take their valuables, but a fire could take everything. Sales to small business owners is not as an emotional purchase since most small business owners believe their insurance will replace everything a fire takes. Still, it's one-on-one selling, direct to the person that makes the decisions. In this market, subtle 'learning mistakes' and delays are less critical since there's no looming deadline for an occupancy permit. However, the permit, paperwork, meeting, inspection and training duties still apply to these smaller fire alarm installations.
Once your salespeople begin to learn the issues that may make the job unprofitable, the better experience your company will have. There is a learning curve, but the commercial fire alarm market remains profitable, even in today's sluggish economy. The "value add" will be your ability to use your new fire alarm market expertise to leverage sales for your other services as well.