Dealer Program Checkpoint

Tap into resources that add value

For Michael Pope, president of Safety Technologies, Medina, Ohio, the commercial security division of Audio/Video Interiors, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, and a part of the HomeConnecTeam developed and managed by Group Gerhardt, Tucker, Ga., the sales training and support the company offers is different, as is the dealer group. "They come with a fresh approach because they are not lining up behind any manufacturer," he explained. "Essentially, it is a collaboration of approximately 70 dealers working to provide advanced services in homes based on a security platform that uses a gateway into the Internet."

"We wanted to create an appetite for more systems that could be controlled from more places for less money but with recurring revenue," added Rob Gerhardt, president, Group Gerhardt. "We realized that during the buildup of the iControl platform for ADT and Comcast, the independent dealers were going to have to have an answer for the questions that were going to be created by the mass of advertising that the iControl and Xanboo-based companies and utilities were going to have. We realized that we needed to learn how to compete with the iControl- and Xanboo-based companies so we launched a series of training sessions explaining this."

This process started nearly a year ago, when Rob Gerhardt began a dealer feasibility study to address questions and methods in how to make this work. "The group has a make-up similar to that of a co-op and the idea is to learn what not to do as cost-efficiently as possible by sharing in the cost of things and learning what to do with the collective cooperation and collaborations with the group," Gerhardt continued.

"Anyone who is trying to figure out how to come up with better ways to market and leverage themselves with a group of other people-those are the companies that are going to get ahead," Pope added.

One of the inbound marketing tactics Group Gerhardt provides is called Pay Per Click (PPC) which is paid advertising using keywords that generates leads for a particular company. For example, a company that wants to get into the top three results of a Google search, it is a simple matter of paying for the service. This is defined as "inbound marketing" and is more productive than the traditional "outbound marketing" techniques (radio, TV, print, direct mail) because it connects dealers to people who are actively researching the systems. HomeConnecTeam within Group Gerhardt is the identity used to support this model.
"Anybody can initiate their own PPC program," he continued. But it's the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) of the clicks into leads where the real opportunity exists, according to Gerhardt.

"The moment you get into the post-click environment, where someone has actually clicked and now you're trying to get a lead and make an appointment, the cost of improving that is measured in thousands of dollars per month. The process that increases the CRO is expensive for an individual dealer but affordable for a group. Once the leads are created they are then distributed back to the members in the area that paid for them proportionate to what their budget was. Dealers get a much better result than they would on their own for the core cost of $350 per month, instead of $3,000 to $9,000 per month."

The sweet spot of interactive services

For hosted service platform provider, Vienna, Va., the increased upswing in companies standardizing on interactive services is one precursor they already witnessed and expect to see at ISC West next month. "You can expect to see more dealer programs offering things like video monitoring that enhances the service," said Nate Natale, vice president of Sales, Arming and disarming a system, automation and energy management, lighting control-all of these interactive services are add-ons that a dealer can offer their customer. "But the important thing for dealers to consider here is that they don't have to do it all at once," Natale added.

For Guardian Protection Services, which offers the UTC/GE product that is tightly integrated with's technology platform, the interactive services they currently offer come in three phases, the last of which encompass Guardian offering's emPower services, which utilize Z-Wave technology to remotely control ones home. "For Guardian, phase one was the interactive arming and disarming ability. Phase two is video services. Phase three is when your house becomes a smart home, versus a smart phone," explained Hank Groff, national director, Guardian Authorized Dealer Program, Guardian Protection Services, Pittsburgh. The company plans to roll out their video product at ISC West.