It’s interesting to find new players in the market—those who are doing well in an extremely competitive space. We found just that company, LiveWatch Security LLC/ SafeMart in Evanston, Ill., and went straight to chief executive officer R. Brad Morehead to get his insights.
Q: What are your impressions, being fairly new?
A: We think the security industry is a great place to be. It is a huge market where so many companies can do well by simply doing good for others. We get to help people protect what is most important to them, or as we say: “protect what is priceless.” So many people that I’ve spoken to in the security industry really do care about their customers. I think that is incredibly important as we see more competition from the cable companies and telcos who don’t necessarily view that customer relationship as sacred.
If you look at our industry’s residential market penetration, it has hovered around 20 percent for what, decades? I believe that our weakness as an industry is in sticking to the old way of doing things, whether in terms of hardware, sales, marketing or operations. At LiveWatch (http://www.safemart.com/livewatch), we try to actively embrace new ways of doing things so we can constantly evolve. We believe a bigger market is better, so our goal is to help expand the residential security market beyond the existing 20 percent.
Q: Tell me about SafeMart and LiveWatch. What is your ‘model’ or ‘philosophy’?
A: At LiveWatch Security, our mission is to ‘heroically help people protect what is priceless.’ This goes back to one of our founders who was a paramedic. We strive for the highest standards of protection, because we know our customers have entrusted us to protect what is priceless to them. Every action we take is intended to make the overall customer experience better and that’s what we work toward every day.
Q: What is your impression of the recurring monthly revenue (RMR) landscape?
A: From what I have seen, average RMR has been pretty consistent over the past few decades. However, I’m hearing from people that new competitors like the cable companies and telcos are increasing competition and driving prices down. That may be our new reality.
We’ve done some research on the telcos to better understand these new competitors. Declining telco RMR (they call it ARPU) is something they have been dealing with for decades and it seems like they are bringing that mentality to security.
Q: How did you get the information you needed to start SafeMart and LiveWatch?
A: In my experience with a few businesses prior to starting LiveWatch Security, I came to the conclusion that service determined the winners and losers. I believe that if we can deliver a great upfront experience and supplement it with fanatical support, then we can grow the market and continue to succeed in the home security industry.
In 2011 I took our leadership team to tour one of the world leaders in customer service, Zappos.com (now a unit of Amazon.com). We spent the day at the corporate headquarters of Zappos. We saw firsthand that Zappos doesn’t sell shoes; they sell “WOW” through service. That left a lasting impact on our team. It reinforced that in order to compete with larger companies, we had to move faster and deliver an experience that went way beyond customer satisfaction–we had to delight customers. Every day, we talk about customer delight, measure customer delight, reward customer delight and try to improve customer delight. In fact, we’ve had customers get so excited about our service that one actually proposed marriage to one of our reps over the phone!
Q: Where do you see the future of security systems installation and monitoring?