Sell It While It's Hot!

Accessories and add-ons boost profits and retain customers

Small business owners, for example, love video that allows them to see what is going on at their business. Are workers on time? Are they working? Is the overhead door on the dock open or closed? Even if the customer does not buy it initially, it pays to let him know the features are available. "Sell him a few services and you have a friend for life," Brady added.

New technologies also come into play during the sales process.

"The iPad is a huge selling point with dealers since they can now show a demo of how 4Store and Control4 apps work right in the store," said Arnold. Dealers pull up the Control4 4Store and demonstrate different security apps available for the home. "It's a very effective way to highlight the benefits. The iPad really furthers control options for security, as do other mobile devices," Arnold continued.

The real crux of the issue

Graham's concern would be just how much the customer will buy. Guardian's strategy is more about customer retention than added revenue. "We like the added revenue but it is not that much more money," he noted. "And you don't want to run the fees up too high. We are cognizant of what we are adding. The market won't withstand $100 a month."

Much of the accessory boom is facilitated by the proliferation of Z-Wave technology. It effectively transforms any component-switches, lighting controls, thermostats-into an intelligent device that can be wirelessly controlled and monitored. Some 150 companies are in the Z-Wave Alliance.

Dealers and integrators need training, of course. Companies like Control4 provide dealers with intensive training to handle the installation and service of security systems. "All our prospective dealers must attend and pass a three-day Control4 Installer Certification program offered in our training centers in Salt Lake City, Charlotte and Chicago," Arnold said.

The ease of up-selling, Graham said, depends on the age of the customer base and the installed control panel. After five to seven years, it simply makes sense to put in new hardware, since the capability of the old control panel is archaic.

Again, he noted the challenge of getting customer buy-in to upgrades or accessories. "How do you price this to the customer who got their system for zero down and a low monthly fee?" he questioned. "The GSM communicator costs more than the basic panel did seven years ago." Yet, Graham is confident the business will work out the marketing challenges. ADP, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T all are moving accessorized services to market.

Curt Harler is a freelance writer and regular contributor to SD&I magazine. He can be reached at