The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Prepare to Profit by Investing in Internships
Idea of the Month
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 Angela White, ESA & Central 1 Security.
White's great idea: “[Industry-related outreach,
like offering apprenticeships] is not an option, but rather, a necessity.”
NGELA WHITE IS ONE TOUGH LADY. Not arm wrestling kind of toughness, but rather, decision-making mettle. She doesn’t deal well with abstract thinking (that’s my opinion), but give her some difficult choices to make in running a business, and my guess is she won’t equivocate, won’t hedge, and definitely won’t hesitate to give you an answer.
I started thinking about this as I was thumbing through the current issue of Security Nation magazine, the flagship publication of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), an organization for which she is the president and chairman of the board. In her president’s message, she stated: “It is time for us to evaluate everything. You’re going to start to see some big changes throughout 2018 and beyond. Benefits and programs that only appeal to a handful of members, but take up a tremendous amount of staff time, will go away and will be replaced with game-changing benefits that members will flock to.”
I thought that was some pretty straight talk from somebody who at least thought she would be able to accomplish it. And, I believe that if anyone could do it, it’s White. But ESA’s impending “big changes” are not what this column is about. It’s about “great ideas” for SSI’s readership. In that respect, White also came through. She started off kind of generically, i.e. “every alarm dealer needs to spend some time planning for the future.” Then she morphed into a spokesperson for learning about the industry, and reminding dealers of the benefits of being a part of local associations, and of course, ESA.
Profit in Several Ways by Investing in Internships
Both good ideas, both applicable, but it wasn’t until she shifted into third gear and said something to the effect that every dealer should volunteer part of their time on some outreach having to do with the industry. She emphasizes this by pointing out, “It is not an option, but rather, a necessity.” From there she drifted into a statement about hosting apprenticeships for high school and college students in the summertime as a way to plan for the future. Now they’re called internships, which sounds more formal and a little more businesslike.
And this is the idea that I wanted to elaborate on with White’s advice.
By hosting an internship during summers for both high school and college students, you accomplish three things: 1) you do some good in the community; 2) you become established as a possible service provider with local educational institutions; and 3) you become vested in your company’s own future by training potential employees during summer vacations. Oh, and by the way, paying those employees for the time they spend with you. They’ll brag about it to their friends, their parents (who, of course, are potential customers) will appreciate it, and you will see and shape the capabilities of these young people.
White, who also serves as general manager of Central 1 Security,
further suggested that if you do offer internships, they be in
the form of the internships in “general electronics.” That’s pretty
smart, because some people may not want to be boxed into what they think is a small industry. She also suggested that you start doing this at the high school level. This really takes some long-term planning.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to Association Leaders
She ended her president’s message with the following: “As we continue to plan for the future, I invite you to reach out to me personally. Please call or email me your thoughts on what benefits and services you would like to see ESA providing to its members. This feedback will help us properly plan and structure ESA for success into the future. I sincerely value your opinion and want to ensure that the voice of membership is heard throughout this process.”
She included her email address and telephone number in the article, and so I called her. You should do the same when extended the welcome opportunity. Something else you might do in planning for the future is to commit to the trade associations that are generating the kind of thinking that White exhibited in her president’s message. If you don’t like what associations are doing, call her and explain why. If you do like what they’re doing, let her know how they could do it better. And if you’re not now a member, you might ask White to help you get started.