Shawn Welsh is the vice president of Marketing and Business Development for Telular Corp., based in Atlanta.
This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of SD&I magazine
Security dealers and integrators are always looking for ways to increase their recurring monthly revenue (RMR) by using the business structure and sales approach they’ve already invested in. Some of the routine examples dealers commonly use to earn more RMR from existing accounts include adding interactive services to their legacy alarm panels or swapping out all the landlines at commercial fire accounts for a single sole-path cellular fire communicator. These are two quick ways to add RMR with minimal training for the organization. However, some higher value RMR sources require greater consideration to unlock their value. One such technology is Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS).
Some security dealers may incorrectly view a PERS system as a special form of a self-contained alarm panel—give it power, plug in the phone line, verify its one sensor (the pendant) and leave. For security dealers interested in participating in the PERS industry, planning for success starts by recognizing that, though the model is similar to intrusion systems, PERS is more than just a new kind of hardware to connect to just any monitoring center. Solution partners and lead sources are a critical part of its success for any company. Without these two, your ability to generate sustainable RMR is almost certain to fail.
The hardware choice will often be the first one you have to make. Finding the major vendors in this space won’t be hard, but the lesser known brands shouldn’t be overlooked. For example, Mytrex’s MXD is widely recognized in the industry as having some of the fastest communications times. Test many vendors and pick the one that gives you the highest confidence.
Landlines not necessary
While planning your preferred hardware platform, don’t overlook the same communications issues that plague traditional alarm panels and landlines: VoIP and the cellular-only trend. Look for products with built in 3G/4G cellular or add Telguard’s TG-P cellular communicator to almost any existing PERS device to avoid landlines completely. Whatever the hardware choice, it is nothing without a trained and capable monitoring center to work with the elderly clients you serve.
The monitoring center is often the most critical decision you’ll make. Though many centers will advertise two-way voice support, it is the human operator’s qualifications not the digital receiver’s you’re most interested in. Like people, different monitoring centers have different personalities. Your clients will be talking to them with every emergency. Pick one that matches the impression you want your company to present. Operators trained to the same standards of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) or 911 operators will be the best equipped to calmly handle the range of calls that will come in. Consulting the Medical Alert Monitoring Association (MAMA) will provide a starting point for monitoring centers dedicated to the PERS industry.
Finally, a security dealer entering the PERS industry needs new tactics. Developing leads will be one of the biggest challenges. Networking with local nursing homes, doctors and churches may be your best source of leads. These organizations will produce a steady supply of leads for trusted providers. Sadly, an account’s life cycle matches your client’s life expectancy, not their duration of home ownership. This makes attrition rates naturally higher. Because of this, making your source for leads productive year after year best comes from providing a trusted and reliable service starting with you and backed by your chosen partners.
Using some of the above tips should introduce you to the partners you need to position yourself as a trusted supplier of PERS for your community, while allowing you to grow your business in a segment other than intrusion.