The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Understanding Why Change Is a Good Thing
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's great idea comes from Bob Scales, president of Kansas City, Mo.-based Safeguard Alarms.
Scales' great idea:
If you're going to survive in today's alarm industry, you have got to embrace change.
Even though he is from Kansas City, Mo., Bob Scales reminds me of the good guy who played a sheriff in some of the old Texas westerns. A pleasant smile, kind, gentle, but not someone you’d want to take on in a real serious fight.
Scales and I sat down and chatted recently about his company, Safeguard Alarms. Scales has owned and operated the company for well over a decade, but it had been around a lot longer before he assumed control of it. When I asked him my signature question for this column his response surprised me. I expected something more in keeping with his physical characteristics like, “Do unto others..."
Instead, Scales borrowed a page from Steve Jobs’ playbook. When I inquired what he meant by embracing change he went on to say that today’s alarm dealer is not just in the business of installing, servicing and monitoring alarm systems. It goes much deeper than that. Today’s alarm dealer is akin to a 3D movie on a big screen vs. a 10-inch black-and-white TV set.
Scales has been around long enough to have attended one of my seminars having to do with the real business we’re in — the recurring revenue business. This includes monitored alarm systems, but as we have found in recent years, it can include everything from insurance, to added Internet services, access control, energy management, CCTV, home entertainment, among others. The more services that go out each month under a bundled bill, the more RMR we can earn. The trick is to not be limited by a vision that only includes one or two items.
A little tip I sometimes talk about during the seminars I give is to find an old Yellow Pages directory. Start thumbing through the pages from A to Z and as each category becomes visible to your eye, engage your brain by asking this question: “Could I bundle this business along with alarm systems and sell them to my customers?” If the answer is yes, then you just might have landed on a way to increase your RMR.
Achieving New Heights of Success
Of course, Scales communicates this concept of embracing change to the people who work for him at Safeguard. He gave an example of a recent hire who was selling four systems a month on average. Scales conferred with the salesman to bestow the true meaning of embracing change, which includes such factors as training, education, customer service, as well as motivation.
Today that same salesperson is averaging 20 systems a month by espousing Scales’ ideals. In fact, he’s become so good at it that when a customer who is hesitating or shows some reluctance during the sales call he’ll tell the customer, “You don’t have to make a decision tonight, Mr. Prospect. Why not think about it for a day or two, then give me a call.” And it works. If this methodology and conviction takes a salesperson from four sales a month to 20, it’s certainly worth a try.
What’s going on around the industry that is causing disruption, loss of vision, a need for refocusing? In each of these areas there is an equal or better opportunity to do something creative for your customers. Look at what the telecos, cablecos and direct marketers are doing. Emulate those practices that can work well for you and for your company. As Scales said so eloquently, embrace change. And what he didn’t say, but could have added, was that by embracing change, change will certainly embrace you.
Ron Davis is a SSI Hall of Fame inductee and President of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group Inc. Also known as The Graybeards, the company is active in acquisitions and mergers exclusively in the alarm business.