Editor's Note: Your Customers Want to Help

June 8, 2020
A groundswell of support for local businesses creates options for security companies
This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention @SecBusinessMag on Twitter and Security Business magazine on LinkedIn.

Like most of us, my family’s Friday night restaurant visits are on hiatus; however, quarantine hasn’t stopped us from spending money to help support our favorite places. Instead of a sit-down dinner, I have made it a point to continue to patronize our favorite local spots at least twice a week for takeout.  

Personally, I feel like it is my civic duty to step up to help these mostly small businesses survive, and while feeding a family of four isn’t going to push a local restaurant into the black, it seems like many of us are making similar efforts to help keep them afloat.

It is one of the few examples of positive fallout – a groundswell of support for local businesses.

Because of this mindset, I have found myself tipping 25% or more on takeout orders. I have made an effort to find supplies locally without turning to Amazon – not always easy. I am generally willing to spend more to support our community, and it doesn’t hurt that I seem to have more disposable income without huge gasoline and car maintenance bills, for example.

I am sure that this mentality carries over into the commercial world. As a security integrator – local, regional or national – you should be viewed by your customers as a great business partner. A trusted advisor. No company wants to see its trusted partner go out of business, so they are probably willing to pay a little extra to do their part – a 25% tip, if you will.

I bring this up because I just saw an article reporting that some businesses across the nation have begun adding a COVID surcharge to their bills. “(For) dentists and restaurants…it is a way to recoup the sudden costs of masks, gloves and sanitizing sprays by passing them to the consumer,” it said.

“The uniform of a (security) technician – whether commercial or residential – is quite different than it was six months ago,” LOUD Security owner John Loud said on a recent webinar as part of the California Alarm Association’s 2020 virtual conference. “You are walking in not only with your toolbox or ladders but now you have a container of wipes and sanitizer. It is a new part of the work environment.”

The key to the extra charge, business experts say, is transparency. What customers don’t want is for a surprise fee to pop up on their bill. If you choose to go this route, be sure to disclose the added fees upfront and clearly communicate those changes to customers.

“The customer appreciates that you are investing and communicating and caring for your team members, which tells (the customer) that you are doing that for them also,” Loud added. “The ripple effect becomes that when we go out engage with our customers, we are ultimately doing something that is good for the community.”

Normally, adding a surcharge is blasphemy, but customers – from commercial to residential – seem to realize that it is a temporary addition, and that it is helping companies stay in business. This is something lots of people want to do. If you aren’t comfortable, maybe making the fee an optional one could be the solution.

These past few issues of Security Business have been focused on how to navigate the altered business landscape – and keep in mind, things like loans and WFH are vitally important to survive – but in the end, every article and idea comes back to your ability to create and keep happy customers…something you have hopefully been doing for your business since day one.

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine (www.securitybusinessmag.com). Email him your comments or topic suggestions at [email protected].