Thoughts on Alarm industry responses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
April 16, 2020
e all are getting used to doing business in different ways. Many or all employees are working at home, having virtual meetings and making lots of phone calls. Owners are worried that their customers won’t be able to pay for monitoring and will cancel, increasing their attrition rates. Salespeople have been forced to avoid face-to-face appointments. Instead, they have to quote systems or projects over the phone, a behavior that is anathema to anyone in sales and completely against their training. Existing customers are putting off upgrades because they don’t want a technician in their house. Some municipalities have temporarily stopped responding to alarms or limited their response to extraordinary situations because they don’t want their personnel to be exposed to Covid-19.
So how do we meet these challenges in the coming days and weeks (hopefully, not months)? The changes we are experiencing are having a huge impact on the way we run our businesses.
One positive is that the security industry has been designated an “essential” business and permitted to make service calls and do installations.
Schools and businesses that have been closed are now available for upgrades and new installs without having to work around employees. Look through your existing proposals and follow up with the decision-makers who probably now have time to schedule the work.
Conserve cash by postponing payments with your creditors.
Offer your customers 90 days free monitoring if they call to cancel. Communicate with them about their need for security in the future. Many small businesses and high-end residences need to have their systems monitored or their insurance might be cancelled. Look at the longevity and size of their accounts. Remind them that their security is in place 24/7 even when they are not on the premises.
If your employees are still working in place (such as central station operators or technicians), keep them safe. Keep sanitizers at the front door before they enter the facilities. Provide masks and gloves for your technicians. Take their temperatures before entering the premises. Protect your employees as well as your customers. Commit to having a safe workplace.
Develop new ways of communicating with your customers. In addition to phone calls, generate text messages, communicate on-line and through social media and even direct mail. Get in the habit of weekly “touches” with each one of them.
Explore new product lines or services, such as PERS for the elderly who are shut ins. Develop a new vertical market with your existing customers. Instead of DIYs, provide DIT (Do it Together) by shipping product to your customers and walking them through a simple install.
Continue to sell in these times of social distancing: doorbell cameras and exterior cameras.
Provide free training classes on-line for your employees. Call manufacturers and find out what is working in the marketplace.
Find out what resources local, state and federal governments will provide. Take advantage of the economic stimulus program
Keep in mind that working conditions will continue to change and we all will have to adapt to the new landscape. Expect that the third quarter, when business picks up again, will be explosive due to pent-up needs for increased security. This is not the first challenge that our industry has faced and will not be the last. You are fulfilling a need that doesn’t go away because of the virus. Every company will have to reinvent itself by developing new skills and training. Now is the time to lead your team out of this. Remember, no change ever occurs when times are good, only in times of crisis. Your company will look different and that’s okay. Be innovative when things are tough. As the saying goes, we will get through this!