It's Crunch Time

Hearts and minds echo 'now is the time' as dealers look for success in the residential market


Traditional security dealers and alarm companies, as well as central station monitoring firms are struggling to make the move to new technologies but they know they must to survive.

No surprise. According to recent SD&I research, more than 85 percent of readers said keeping up with new technology is their biggest challenge. In the morphing landscape of residential systems, nowhere is that more evident.

The world of residential systems has morphed into wireless and Internet-driven technology big time. Apps, smartphones, iPads and other remote connectivity devices rule. Video is prevalent and expected especially to look in on the home and check occupants. The good news is these conveniences and functionality may finally help penetrate the market beyond the current 20 percent installed base of security.

Energy management is an up-and-comer for users who want to save money and assist green efforts. Especially as Generation Y customers, also known as Millennials (born between the mid 70s to the early 2000s) come on as customers, security dealers and integrators will have to learn new technologies and train technicians for these new subscribers. Another piece of good news: subscribers more engaged with their systems tend to be stickier, meaning a lasting customer and possibly ones less prone to attrition.

Not only is technology a challenge, but so are sales. The days of leading with selling a motion detector, keypad or contact are gone. So are profit margins on products. Not to say these devices aren't necessary, but the focus is on customer convenience and staying connected to the protected premises.

Snapshot isn't rosy; better days to come

No denying, the residential systems market has had a tough go of it the last several years. New construction ground to a halt and foreclosures rose to all-time highs. Moving and upgrading to bigger homes is a thing of the past for the time being. For those with systems hit by the recession or who lost jobs, they may have dropped services or landlines and stuck with cellular only, good for adding value but bad for the uninformed central monitoring station.

While some in the industry have been concentrating their efforts on installing products-central vacuums, theatre systems and the likes-the RMR is just not there as it is with other emerging technologies. This is where the systems integrator has to concentrate their efforts-on convenience, connectivity, remote operations, smartphones and more.

Energy management is a big deal for APX Alarm, Provo, Utah, which began offering the wireless Z-Wave-based 2GIG Technologies(r), Melville, N.Y., Go!Control security and home management system. They continue to go hard and fast after emerging technologies and it's improving their bottom line. APX Alarm focuses on same-day installation for its customers, another competitive edge.

"We're seeing a lot of exciting innovation in the residential market," said Jim Nye, vice president of Business Development, APX Alarm. The company OEM'd a smart thermostat and lighting control compatible with the Go!Control security system when it began its energy management endeavors last summer.

"It's these kinds of home services customers are looking for," Nye continued. "We offer security in the traditional sense, but enhanced services go above and beyond. For current subscribers, there's no additional base equipment needed for the energy management component. When they have the security system it's ready to upgrade. We simply add a thermostat and it works via the Z-Wave protocol and then they have the energy management component when they are ready, including smartphone control," he said.

Nye said APX Alarm continues to look for other smart features to add to its portfolio. "The Z-Wave Alliance is working with lock providers on a smart deadbolt with a wireless module that integrates with the security system. GPS tracking is another opportunity."

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