The Big Idea with Ron Davis
Don't Wait for Opportunity to Knock
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's BIg Idea comes from Jay Hauhn, Direction of the Central Station Alarm Association (CAA).
HAUHN'S BIG IDEA:
Realize that this is not your father's central station. It's a new world, one that consists of far more than just monitoring burglar and fire alarms. Now, more than ever before, you need to put your innovator's hat, and realize that the industry has become the Internet of Things — big data, big data mining, big communications.
HAVE NEVER DEBATED WITH JAY HAUHN. Consequently, I don't think we've ever disagreed with each other. That kind of falls in line with how I and many others feel about Hauhn — he's a good guy, likable, and as one of my associates put it, "He's just a big teddy bear!" He had a tough job as a senior executive at Tyco, but I suspect he's in even a tougher job now, as executive director of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). It's certainly a prestigious group, consisting of many companies that are considered to be leaders in the world of central station monitoring. It's a job that has been described as easy as "herding cats."
START BY THINKING BIG — REALLY BIG
Day in and day out, part of Hauhn's job is communicating with some of the industry's most prominent bigwigs. While I'm sure they may respect Hauhn, I don't think anybody who deals with him would describe him as a teddy bear. When I asked him about his great idea for the industry, the answer to which would help dealers to understand what their future look like, he didn't hesitate. "Realize that this is not your father's central station. It's a new world, one that consists of far more than just monitoring burglar and fire alarms. Now, more than ever before, you need to put your innovator's hat on, and realize that the industry has become the Internet of Things — big data, big data mining, big communications."
It's inescapable that the industry is changing. When a direct-selling, door-to-door marketing firm can be sold for $2 billion, you know something's afoot. When a "do-it-yourself" marketer is sold for a multiple exceeding 60x, you know there are changes. When more and more residential alarm companies find themselves having to "give away" alarm systems to generate recurring monthly revenue, there are definately shifts taking place. When the cable companies, telephone companies and direct-selling companies all are taking prominent positions in the industry, one has to suspect it is evolving (to say the least).
Today, some of the most intense attention ever paid in the industry is being paid to companies that provide personal emergency response systems (PERS), DIY installation kits, and direct selling. That attention is being paid by sophisticated investors. We can add andother "big" to Hauhn's list — big money.
From Hauhn's experience at Tyco and CSAA, he should know something about change. And he does. When I asked him about how the independent alarm dealer can condense all the information out there into a realizable marketing plan, he responded, "Put your big hat on" — another big, and perhaps another way of saying "put your thinking cap on." One could argue the highest function an individual is capable of is thought — about answers to a problem, solutions to a puzzle, action steps to a plan.
ARE YOU PREPARED TO JOIN THE EVOLUTION?
I remember when Security Partners CEO Pat Egan saw the success Vivint was enjoying in direct selling, he went to Salt Lake City (where most of the direct-selling companies started) and started seeking out individuals who had been involved in the business. He interviewed a number of people, decided on one, and started a direct-selling division of his company. That division has added substantial value to the company. He didn't wait to be told. He didn't wait for others to do it. He went straight to the source.
People in our industry have already figured out how to make money in the DIY market. That doesn't mean they have discovered everything about the market, but they've carved out a niche that allows them to use the Intenet to seek out potential DIY alarm customers. How do you get these ideas? How do you find out about who's doing what? Inspiration rarely comes without perspiration. It takes efforst to find these things our. A good place to start would be the ASIS Seminar and Exhibits at the end of September in Anaheim, Calif. A lot of exhibitors will be displaying products and services that might not fit what you're looking for. Ask them how you can build your business, sustainably, by using their product. They should be able to answer immediately; if it's satisfactory, then get all the literature you can, find out who the contacts are, and become the biggest and best opportunity that exhibitor will have at the show.
Hauhn is absolutely correct, about the word "big." The way I would use it is to describe your company after you've had a "lightbulb" revelation. You'll know it when it happens.
Ron Davis is Security Sales & Integration's "What's the Big Idea?" columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.