Monitor America’s dealer carrot: A year of free monitoring

Company opening new central station with 100-dealer promotion
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MOONACHIE, N.J.—Monitor America, a new wholesale monitoring company specializing in advanced video services, is opening its facility here in April with an offer of one year of free monitoring for the first 100 dealers who sign up.

Steve Ipson, director of business development for Monitor America, said dealers taking advantage of the offer would have to sign a five-year contract, but there would be no limit on the number of accounts they bring aboard. The promotion will be formally launched April 10 at ISC West in Las Vegas.

“The more, the merrier,” Ipson said in reference to the initial account volume. “Once [a dealer] brings over the book of business, of course we can’t give away free monitoring forever, so anything after that original book will be billed at our very competitive wholesale rates.”

Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer for Monitor America, said the promotion demonstrates the commitment the company is willing to make to the dealer and integrator.

“We think that when [dealers] see the level of service that we’re going to be able to provide, they’re going to want to stick with us,” he told Security Systems News. “We obviously think this is an attention-getting way of kicking off our business.”

Henry Edmonds, president of The Edmonds Group, a St. Louis-based specialty investment bank that focuses on recurring-revenue businesses, said incentives for dealers to switch central stations are not unusual in the wholesale space. He cited offers of reduced monitoring rates or free monitoring for a limited time, and upfront cash payments.

“Incentives help, but it is a pain to switch central stations,” he told SSN. “I believe [Monitor America’s promotion] will mostly attract newer and younger dealers, or ones who are already dissatisfied.”

Monitor America debuted in November at ISC East. The company’s 25,000-square-foot central station is located in the Fusion Centre, a new facility here that served as an emergency command post for local and state officials during Hurricane Sandy. The central station features a 40-by-11-foot video display wall overlooking stadium-style seating for 36 operators.

Ipson said Monitor America handles PERS, managed access control and traditional intrusion and fire alarm monitoring, but its focus is video: video verification, video analytics, video hosting, video guard tours, and video escort and concierge services.

“I’ve always been a believer that the future of monitoring is going to be in the video space, and that’s exactly where we’re positioned,” said Ipson, who previously was director of Advanced Dealer Development at Diebold and director of that company’s central stations in Ohio and Hawaii. “It’s going to be our niche.”

Ipson said video monitoring services have higher profit margins that will help dealers grow their companies faster.

“[Video services] are not commodity items like regular burg monitoring where you can go to the back of a magazine and find it anywhere from $2.50 to $5 an account,” he said. “These are customized special services where the dealer can generate significantly increased RMR for his company. They’re also going to increase the value of their company in the long run so that whatever their exit strategy may be down the road, they’ll be positioned well.”

Monitor America is putting the finishing touches on the Moonachie facility and “we are going to be open for business as of ISC West,” Stuck said. Existing accounts that are being monitored at SecureWatch 24 in Manhattan pending the completion of the Fusion Centre will then be moved to New Jersey.

Stuck said four shifts of operators have received CSAA Level I and Level II training and the company is pursuing UL certification.