Cover Story: What Do Your Residential Customers Really Want?

Knowing the trends and savvy marketing will enable smaller dealers to compete with the big boys

The answer, Knox believes, is to leverage marketing efforts into your own local sales effort. “My personal experience is pushing these services in our newsletter and telling customers we’ve been providing these ‘new’ services for a decade,” Knox says. “You’ve got to touch your customer more now.”

“People you would never have guessed were interested will respond to a billing insert and look for a 4G upgrade,” Brozik says. While he agrees that many small shops find it hard to market the way big guys do, his company is proof that it can be done successfully. Secure US calls it their “Get Connected and Protected” package and advertises it in newspaper ads, on the radio and in bill inserts — it all leads to higher RMR.

Part of Knox’s overall strategy is to build a customer email list to help them contact the faithful. “We figure they are likely to open an email from their alarm company,” Knox says. 

Brozik says the way to keep customers “sticky” is to provide the personal, local service that brought the customer to the table in the first place. “A lot of our customers have faith in us as their local provider,” Brozik says. “We know what is going on in the community, where crime is on the increase. We have the heartbeat of the local market. We know the local authorities.”

All of that adds up when a local dealer has to sell against a big, national operation like AT&T or Comcast.

If the little guy does it right, there is no reason to be afraid of the “big guys” of the world. “People count on buying local. Nobody is happy with their big, national cellular or cable TV bills,” Brozik notes. “You really don’t have to market against it.

“Those big companies have no clue that the hard-wired system they are asking the customer to replace today cost $6,000 or $8,000 a few years ago,” Brozik adds.


The Right Platform

Just as you can miss your train if you are standing on the wrong platform, a security dealer looking at the right technology but basing it on the wrong platform, may see marketing efforts go for naught. “Take advantage of the sunset of 2G technology,” Hood recommends. He notes that the industry is about 18 months from the end of 2G as a supported technology. “We have several thousand accounts we are upgrading from 2G to 4G,” he continues. “We are leveraging that account time to educate customers on Z-wave technology.”

The key is the up-sell potential on existing systems. Add to that the glitz factor for new customers who discover the ability to control systems with a touchscreen pad and other Z-wave technology and the salesperson has an excited customer.

Brozik is sold on IP. He notes the short, if happy, life of 2G cellular. “4G will have its sundown, too,” he says. “What then? It will be difficult to change over your customer base.” He says that, when 4G has its downturn, it will be easier to manage systems via the Internet.

Don’t be afraid to charge for the modern services. Everyone knows a certain segment of customers will shop on price; yet, Brozik says that the best customer is one with some money in the game. “We don’t do the large, free systems,” he says. Instead, he has no problem asking a customer to pony up $750 for a full package that includes door, glass breaking, smoke and other protection with 4G communications. He then charges a small, $24.95-a-month payment. Those customers see the ongoing value of the service they get and already have a capital investment in their home system. “They’re the ones who are going to keep their service and use it,” he says.


Service, Service, Service

Brozik has no problem selling against cable TV companies. “Have you ever waited for your cable repairman to show up sometime between 12 and 5 p.m. next Thursday?” he quips. “If your family needs to be protected, we provide strong response right away.”

It is that kind of service that keeps the customer happy. “We are trustable, dependable and take care of our people,” Brozik says.

Hood would agree. “We welcome the cable companies with their bundled solutions,” he says. “The cable companies are bringing more awareness to the market. If they can help us grow the security market from 20 percent to 40 percent — even 30 percent — that is great!”