'Undercover Boss' appearance a triumph for ADT

May 23, 2013
Reality show reveals dedicated employees

It isn’t a hard and fast rule, but when a company appears on a show like CBS’ Undercover Boss, you can probably expect to see some fireworks — there was the Boston Market cashier who hated customers; the Hooters manager who humiliated the employees; the surf shop employee who tried to sell his boss some dope — and the list goes on.

Fortunately for ADT Security Services, its Undercover Boss experience merely revealed a group of dedicated, caring employees and a green executive just trying to understand them, along with the ins and outs of the business. Sure, the show revealed a few areas for the company to improve, but overall, the appearance should be viewed as a tremendous positive for the organization.

For the show, ADT’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tony Wells, got a chance to get into the trenches in an industry he has only been a member of for eight months. He got to experience three of the true “pistons” that make the ADT engine run: sales, installation and monitoring. This experience will undoubtedly prove to be the foundation of Wells’ tenure with the company and give him insight to back up his own statement at the beginning of the episode: “The Comcasts and Time Warners think they can come in and eat our lunch, and I’m not going to let them do that.”

For his taste of the sales process, Wells worked with a New Jersey-based sales manager, Matt, who is focused on selling security to small businesses. “ADT is known as a residential brand, but there’s real growth opportunity in the small business category,” Wells says during the episode.

Matt goes on to show true sales expertise in working with a retailer to create a security system that included a 360-degreee motion sensor, glass break detectors, and a remote video surveillance platform. When Wells gave his sales pitch a shot with a nearby restaurant, his lack of experience shows, and Matt is unimpressed: “I don’t think he could have given a sandwich to a homeless guy at that point.”

But at least Wells was building up his sales chops. Later in the show he goes on a few residential calls with another New Jersey-based rep, Mike, and seems to do a little better in front of a customer — but not before stumbling through a few cold-calls. “Starting out in this business can be very difficult,” Mike warns him. “It’s 100-percent commission, so there are no guarantees.”

Wells was undoubtedly impressed with the call center and installation employees, Dianne and Jesus, who both cared a lot about the customers and their satisfaction, and it showed. As most “bosses” on the show do, Wells struggled through the nuts-and-bolts work of installation: “He will probably feel more comfortable in a desk job,” Jesus confides to the camera.

He may have stumbled through most of the work, but in the end, Wells has a new appreciation for his employees and his new company. “It’s been an amazing journey for me,” he tells viewers. “I have been at ADT for a short eight months, but I know our company is in good hands when we have the type of employees that I met this week. They are committed and will make sure this company is around for another 140 years.”

Those of you familiar with the show know that those employees fortunate enough to meet with “the boss” have their grievances aired and their families generally taken care of through monetary assistance — this episode was no exception. Among the improvements ADT implemented as a result of the show were: A revamp of the company-wide sales approach regarding small businesses; the establishment of an employee council to give senior leadership valuable feedback; a new reimbursement policy for gasoline use by sales reps; and increased opportunities for installer training and advancement.

The full episode of Undercover Boss featuring Tony Wells and ADT Security Services is available for download in the iTunes store, and clips are available at www.cbs.com/shows/undercover_boss.

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