Sell It While It's Hot!

Accessories and add-ons boost profits and retain customers

Integrators need to look at security systems the way their daughters look at their Barbie dolls. Having a Barbie is nice but having all of Barbie's stuff (and Ken's, too) is the icing on the cake.

No matter the season, there always are accessories and add-ons that are hot sellers. Just as Barbie cannot live without her Malibu beach house or convertible, integrators should be able to entice customers with accessories and add-ons that build business and keep the client content and up-to-date with current convenience and technologies.

Focus on enhanced business value

"Dealers have to show they are capable of taking management of security outside and beyond the home or small business," said John M. Brady, president, TRG Associates, Old Saybrook, Conn. "You've got to be able to offer the 'whiz-bang' options on a plug-and-play basis, even if the customer does not buy them on the first sales call."

"Offering an alarm/contact one door is not a good security program," he added. Rather, a dealer has to offer mobile software applications to customers old and new. While the younger generation is more technology savvy, all customers are aware of the many threats to their safety-threats beyond burglary.

"The big attraction is interactive services. That's where we are getting good play. The time is here, the technology is here and the customers are ready," said Bill Graham, vice president of Sales and Marketing, Guardian Protection Services, Warrendale, Pa. He noted that members of Gen X and Gen Y not only want the newer technologies, but they expect it to be in their homes.

He said if security companies do not migrate to upgraded, accessorized systems they soon will be out of business.

"Security dealers need to offer a broader lifestyle package," agreed Mark Fell, director of Sales, Ocenture, Jacksonville, Fla. "Lifestyle security needs to encompass new consumer behavior and activities." He confirmed there are 1.2 billion people who have Web-enabled devices ranging from iPads to smartphones. But last year there were 71 million new virus signatures and over one million new spyware signatures unleashed upon the market.

Identity protection a great add-on

"Their main target is identity theft," said Fell. He added that many traditional alarm companies are missing the opportunity. There are 34 million users of identity theft protection services, spending $3 billion a year and growing at a 20 percent rate. His answer is what the company terms an 'ASAP' strategy: Acquire more customers; Sell more to each customer; Attrition reduction; and sustain Pricing.

Brady concurred there is a huge potential market for security integrators. "On the whole, we have low penetration as an industry," he said. "A lot of people don't even have home security."

Many forward-thinking companies are delving into other areas of the accessory market. Guardian is getting ready to roll out interactive cameras and thermostat controls. Lighting control will be the third step in their plans. Lighting, Graham explained, is more difficult since an electrician must be involved for offerings beyond lamp modules. He said Guardian is working on sales models that will permit the customer to buy a system that Guardian programs or one in which they subcontract the work to an electrical contractor if necessary.

Whichever direction the business goes, "the days of just installing a standard alarm system are gone," Graham confirmed.

Fire detection in the interactive fold

"For residential customers, text message control of systems and fire detection is a hot seller right now," said Jonathan Frase, president, Frase Protection, Memphis, Tenn. "Homeowners want to feel connected to their homes while away," he pointed out, adding that no matter where one lives or travels, people realize that fire is a real threat.

Frase sells service plans that take effect when the warranty expires. "Our customers need to budget for system maintenance and service and they are receptive to deferring the expense until the warranty period ends," he said.

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