Don't let attrition get the best of you

It used to be that if your company revenue decreases by a certain percentage in a given amount of time, the bank will give you from 30 to 60 days to rectify the situation. Many financial institutions have somewhat covertly replaced the word "revenue" with the words "earnings to debt ratio." Today, money lending institutions are under a great amount of pressure to hedge their bets and have broadened the scope of these protections by intentionally making many of them considerably less specific. Some examples of the new generation of adverse change clauses can include changes to your company's percentage of gross attrition, changes to your management team or in your operating costs and any number of changes that would pose a potential threat to a business's ability to remain gainful. A negative change to a company's debt to Earnings Before Interest Tax Appreciation and Amortization (EBITAA) raises a lenders eyebrows when reviewing business loans. Another clause more commonly found in loan covenants today is if the company debt goes beyond the threshold of X times the earnings to debt ratios you might have a problem.

Sales professionals have to become enthusiastic and empowered to differentiate their company outside of the normal criteria of price, technology and products. All of those elements are what everyone is competing on and it is the responsibility of the sales professional to be able to grow and separate their company from the competition in terms of an added-value benefit. And it's largely not happening. A lot of the training occurring right now is generic-there are a few people who are doing it well but there's not a lot going on specifically geared for our industry that really works. By providing training only on product and technology and investing nothing at all on sales, retention and customer service training, you are merely helping your team maintain a lack of energy, passion and competitive advantage needed to grow-and are most likely taking out nearly as many systems as you install each month.

Training is a value-add

Bringing an industry trainer in from the outside to work with your team not only can help add some much-needed enthusiasm, but also brings in fresh ways to eliminate more cancellations. When it comes to your seasoned sales people, most of them may feel they do not need any training. Some may get angry at the mention of it. No matter how good you already are, today is perhaps the best time to train your team to take full advantage of every growth opportunity you have. Sadly, too many security dealers still provide little more than product and technical training for their employees. But it only takes one person bringing forward some real tangible specifics, or even a new program full of effective tools with specifics and not syrupy generics, that can rejuvenate a sales professional who feels beat up, tired or unenthusiastic. It's all about generating new ideas that can make someone who has been in the security industry for 30 years say, 'Oh! I didn't think of that!' And it works. Just like any good team, amateurs need training so they get it right. Professionals need training so they do not get it wrong!

For many in the industry, it is about staying positive and looking forward to better times ahead, and perhaps that is the 'mantra' that has helped those, like Security Networks, work through today's hard economic times.

"Our industry has typically been fairly solid in recessions," said Perry. "I've been in the industry for 25 years and have been through a few recessions and one of the pluses of our business is it does seem to be fairly resilient in recessions and I don't think this one is any different."

Harris' Tips and Tricks

Here are three helpful tips in staving off attrition. If done properly, they will help put you and your whole organization on the right track.

1. Create a list of the most common reasons people want to cancel and ask your entire team to come up with as many ways to save that customer as they can for each reason. Continue to modify it and find the ones that work best for you.

2. Come up with as many "value-added" services that would both excite and entice your customers to bundle these services with you.

3. Put a think tank of your top people together and identify the most attractive unmet needs you'll address to exceed your customer's expectations.

Bob Harris is president of The Attrition Busters seminars, consulting, and workshops. He can be reached at