Guardian Protection signs on a top California dealer

Skyline Security is expected to sell 800 to 900 systems a month
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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WARRENDALE, Pa.—A new in-house financing feature offered by Guardian Protection Services’ authorized dealer program is a major reason one of California’s largest security dealers has joined the program, expanding Guardian’s presence in that lucrative market.

Guardian, based here, announced Feb. 26 that Skyline Security Management, a privately owned, 10-year-old door-knocking company based in Downey, Calif., is now a Guardian dealer and expected to produce an average of 800 to 900 systems per month.

“We’ve always wanted to get into the California market and landing [Skyline] got us into that market in a big way,” Guardian CEO Russell Cersosimo told Security Systems News.

Although Guardian already had some dealers in California, adding Skyline brings “significant volume,” Cersosimo said. Skyline, whose selling methods include traditional sales in addition to door knocking, has a coverage area that extends to 11 states, including Texas, so it will also enhance Guardian’s presence in the Southwest.

Cersosimo told SSN that a major factor in Skyline’s joining is a new feature of Guardian’s dealer program just rolled out in 2014, “where we’re allowing [dealers] to keep 20 percent of their account base and providing the financing to do so.”

Cersosimo called Guardian’s program “… the dealer program redefined.”

He explained: “It’s unlike any other dealer program because we truly are partners with these guys. Not only are we lending them the money to be able to retain accounts but we’re providing all the services at a fixed cost so that they have a very predictable return over the time that they own those accounts.”

Skyline CEO Edwin Arroyave told SSN that Guardian’s new financing offer was a “huge reason” he decided to sign on because his company’s eventual goal is to keep 100 percent of its accounts in-house.

Arroyave also stressed that the chance to be mentored by Guardian was vital too. “I was impressed with being able to learn from a company that is doing it just the way I want to do it,” Arroyave told SSN.

When Guardian approached Skyline about joining the dealer program, Arroyave said, “One of the things that stood out was that their story kind of reminded me of my story.”

For example, he said, Guardian started out small and grew organically, as has Skyline, which has expanded from six employees to about 50 in the last few years.

Arroyave noticed that Guardian has a lot of longtime employees that it values, as does Skyline.

Arroyave said he was impressed with other things about Guardian, such as its 8 percent attrition rate and the “boot camp” training it gives its customer service staff.

“I looked at it as an opportunity,” he explained. “If these guys can teach me how they get to that level, then it’s going to be a perfect marriage, because I can help them establish that footprint that they’ve needed on the West Coast, and in return they can show me how to get to a level where I’m not just taking care of an account for a year, I’m taking care of an account for 10 years plus. It’s a nice win-win for both of us.”

He said that Skyline sells door-to-door year round but that about 40 percent of its volume comes from summer door knocking. In addition to its Downey, Calif. headquarters, the company has branch offices in Dallas; Knoxville, Tenn.; San Antonio; and the California cities of El Centro and Rancho Cucamonga, Arroyave said.

But Arroyave said he has taken a different approach to door knocking than some. “I’ve seen other guys do it a whole different way: They focused on the sales and not the operation,” he said. “Sales are going to come but things are going to fall through the cracks because your operations aren’t strong enough and that’s what leads to charge backs, that’s what leads to lawsuits, that’s what leads to all the other things that could go wrong. I decided to focus on the operation.”

The company produces about 1,200 systems a month during the summer and averages 600 to 700 each month the rest of the year, Arroyave said. “We’ve always kind of prided ourselves on being a volume dealer that is able to sustain the quality,” he said.

Brian Helt, Guardian’s vice president of the authorized dealer program, told SSN that Skyline and other door-knocking companies selected to be in Guardian’s dealer program share Guardian’s commitment to high standards.

“What I’ve been impressed with, with organizations such as Skyline, is the amount of time and effort they put in to making sure their business is done the right way,” he said.

Helt continued, “I like to call them ‘new dealers.’ I hate to call them ‘summer dealers’ because they’re really not anymore. They’re a new hybrid dealer that has a summer spike along with a standard level of business that’s done year round, the majority through knocking and a percentage through other means.”

Helt, who joined Guardian this past November and most recently was the Western region director for Interlogix, said Skyline is a leader among such companies for its commitment to quality. For example, he said, Arroyave has always taken such steps as “making sure the security systems he was selling were high quality deals, meaning they’re the right customers who truly understand the agreement and so forth.”

Cersosimo said Guardian does business in about 60 percent of the nation now and is looking to expand its footprint. “We are willing to go anywhere if the dealer is substantial enough in size,” he said.