Trouble maker turned profit taker

"Learning troubleshooting, service and maintenance can help systems integrators develop new recurring revenue streams."

TROUBLESHOOTING is defined by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, as a form of problem solving most often applied to repair of failed products (systems). It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem so that it can be solved, and the product or system can be made operational again.

Troubleshooting is not an evil, but a necessity to develop and maintain complex systems where the symptoms of a problem can have many possible underlying causes. Done properly, it requires identification of the malfunction(s) or symptoms within a system. Then, experience is commonly used to generate possible causes of the symptoms. Determining which cause is most likely is often a process of elimination and comes by examining potential causes of a problem.

Finally, troubleshooting requires confirmation that the solution restores the product or process to its working state.

Troubleshooting, as defined by your alarm company, could and should be a significant profit center for your business and now there is a way to get trained in this area to take advantage of all it has to offer.

New industry training coursework

The Electronic Security Association (ESA) has developed a first of its kind training course intended at teaching these principles and is rolling it out as part of the National Training School or NTS. The new course: Troubleshooting, Service and Maintenance (TSM) focuses on what is described as the “Troubleshooting Mindset.” So just what is this troubleshooting mindset? Simply put, it is as described above—a systematic approach to identifying the problem or fault in a system and then implementing the corrective action in the most efficient and effective manner.

This troubleshooting mindset is presented using system diagnostic flowcharts and real-world system fault exercises. Students are given the opportunity to navigate through system problems involving power supplies, intrusion, fire alarms, access control and video surveillance systems. These practical application exercises afford the student the opportunity to learn the process and fine tune their understanding without having to learn the hard way in the field by trail and error, which is time-consuming and an unproductive use of time. And the bottom line is that once you are well-versed at figuring out system problems, you’ve become even more valuable as a systems integrator/problem solver to the customer. Think about the additional revenue you can generate from service and maintenance when you sell these contracts on a regular basis to your customers—and you should be doing just that.

Understanding 3 key elements

Students attending the Troubleshooting, Service and Maintenance course are taught not only the technical aspects of each of these three key elements, but also the potential impact each element can have on their businesse’s bottom line.

Troubleshooting–the methodical approach to identifying faults in a system.
Service–the effective and efficient methods for repairing faults in a system.

Maintenance–the conducting of regularly scheduled tests and inspections of the various system components to ensure desired performance and operation.

Specifically included in the course materials is information provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) on NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code and NFPA 731, Standard for the Installation of Electronic Premises Security Systems.

Both of these referenced documents are used as part of the course instructional materials, specifically aimed at teaching students the proper service, test and inspection procedures for the referenced fire alarm and intrusion systems.

By understanding the opportunities presented by the referenced codes, the three key elements and implementation of the “troubleshooting mindset” alarm dealers will be able to identify numerous new revenue generating opportunities for their business.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University.

Dale R. Eller serves ESA as director of Education and Standards. A 25+ year industry veteran, Eller’s firm ITZ Solutions! provides consulting, training and management services to the ESA, PBFAA, PaFED, NYBFAA, Installation Quality Certification Program and WISE.