Emergency24 gets into PERS market

Third-party monitoring company Emergency24 announced today at the ESX 2008 tradeshow in Nashville, Tenn., that it has entered the PERS market.

According to Branch Manager Deanna Blair and National Sales Manager Kevin McCarthy, the company is now offering services for security dealers who wish to enter the PERS (Personal Emergency Response System) market. PERS technology is similar to alarm technology in that it allows people to call or press an alert button to connect them with a monitoring station. Those monitoring services, like Emergency24 is providing, include 2-way voice to discuss with the user what they need: assistance from a family member, neighbor or friend, or an emergency medical response.

While Blair said the monitoring agents aren't medical professionals who can assess health conditions, the monitoring operators often find that the customer, which is often the elderly, have an immediate need that a monitoring operations station can help with.

However, noted Blair, "nine times out of 10, we don't have to call the paramedics."

"Often we find that they need us to call the neighbor or a family friend," said Blair.

Blair added that PERS hadn't previously been adopted as an additional service offering by dealers because "it's customer service intensive." The customers regularly want more contact from the provider, she said, noting that customers want to do their own checks very often just to make sure their PERS systems are working.

"What was happening was that dealers would start off enthusiastically [offering PERS installation services and doing the monitoring], but interest would fade when they found out how intensive the monitoring and customer service was," said Blair.

By going to a third-party monitoring provider, like what her own employer Emergency24 offers, dealers are freed away from the customer service issue. And even though they may sign on with Emergency24 for their PERS monitoring, Blair and McCarthy stressed that they're not forcing the dealer to turn over all of their accounts.

"There are no minimums and no terms with the PERS service," said Blair. "And the dealers aren't required to move their fire and security monitoring to Emergency24," a requirement which she said some monitoring providers had attempted to force upon dealers in the past.

The company's solution works with equipment from providers such as Visonic, Linear, GE Security and ADP, among others, and the company has recently learned that it can work with video company OzVision to provide one-way video to the monitoring station in order to help the monitoring operator help assess the customers' needs.

Blair added that in addition to handling the calls, Emergency24 handles the fulfillment and all customer care and service. McCarthy noted that Emergency24 is also set up to help the dealers market PERS solutions to their customers.

What's interesting, said McCarthy, is that when a dealer markets PERS to their customers, "they really are marketing to four or five times that many customers, because everyone may have an aunt, an uncle, a father or a mother who needs this service."