“Without a doubt, what makes us successful is our people,” Whall adds while admitting that most companies will say the same thing. “I am sure most believe it,” he says. “We ensure that our words match our actions by investing in our employees through recognition, community involvement, emphasis on health and wellness, a high level of accountability and on-going coaching, mentoring, training and development.”
Part of this comes from his in-depth analysis of the firm. “I had studied this company inside and out before we acquired it in 2010, but the one thing I didn’t know anything about was the people. Having toured 60-plus branches in the first 60 days back in 2010, I was incredibly happy to see the passion the employees had for the customer,” Whall says. “I think what makes us successful is that we are fully committed to keeping the customer the center of all that we do.
“It helps align our goals and objectives — and it helps keep us all accountable to the same thing - the customer,” he adds. “I am firm believer that the best way to grow a company is to keep the customers you have. When you do that — everything else just follows.”
One area where Protection 1 is looking at for possible sales growth is in home automation. “I think there is certainly plenty of growth opportunity for home automation systems,” Whall confirms. “Consumers are still seeing ‘home automation’ with security as the ability to arm and disarm remotely. There is a whole market out there ripe for upgrades of this type of home automation.”
Whall says that as energy, lighting and locks become more front-and-center for customers, he thinks we will see new entrants in the market consider security from a lifestyle and cost-savings perspective. “New distribution channels, new entrants and customers’ growing interest in home automation will help grow the market penetration from 25 percent to something higher,” he says.
Looking Down the Road
“Our biggest challenge is to manage the growth while continually offering the level of service we provide,” Whall says. “We continue to hire more employees, we continue to train, we continue to look at our processes to see how and where we can improve and we continue to reach out to customers to get their perspective and ideas.”
Haenggi pointed to P-1’s “Voice of the Customer” program. “Our ongoing efforts are vital to ensuring that we are meeting their expectations and that existing customers never feel left out as new customers come into the fold,” she says.
Whall is less concerned about where Protection1 goes next than about their continued focus. “We continue to grow all of our channels — residential, commercial and national accounts — with great success. We’ve continued to maintain high customer satisfaction scores — 95 percent and above.
“We will continue to focus on what we do best,” Whall says. “I expect that we will continue to add a few locations here and there — we have gone from 60 locations to over 70 — and as we see density increase in certain areas, we will expand out from there.”
It may sound bland, but in five years he simply expects more of the same. He wants to see a company focused on the customer, growing, passionate about life safety and caring about its employees. “I think we will delve more into additional segmentation and distribution,” Whall says. For example, P-1 is launching a DIY channel for residential later this year.
“We have added a vertical focus to our national accounts to hone our expertise and focus on select markets such as retail, food and hospitality, banking and industrial commercial,” he concluded.
A Closer Look
Company name: Protection 1
HQ location: Chicago, IL with 74 regional offices
Principals: Tim Whall, CEO; Dan Bresingham, CFO; Don Young, CIO; Bob Dale, SVP Sales; Jamie Haenggi, Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer
Year founded: 1988
Number of employees: 3,000
Residential/Commercial split: 50 percent commercial, 50 percent residential
Top technology brands sold: Honeywell, UTC, Axis, DMP