Readers ponder effects of ADT small business strategy

Most readers say tailoring solutions to specific verticals is the way to go
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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

YARMOUTH, Maine—When it comes to commercial business, an overwhelming majority of readers—90 percent—says it’s best to provide security solutions that are distinct from security and automation packages offered for the home.

What’s more, 82 percent of respondents to the latest SSN News Poll believes different business categories necessitate different bundled solutions tailored specifically to that vertical.

“I think ADT has the right strategy here,” one reader said. “If they are looking to increase profitability, they need to address needs specific to individual businesses. However, marketing to these customers and hiring the right sales force are separate issues.”

Still, despite ADT’s latest efforts to go after small businesses with bundled solutions targeting specific markets, 48 percent of respondents said they already do custom work for small business customers and don’t plan to adjust their approach to that market. A slight majority of respondents (61 percent) say they plan to review their offerings and refine their approach to that market.

Some respondents, such as Jerry Kobeszko of Advanced Detection Systems, said ramped up sales efforts of this kind are nothing new for ADT, and that large companies are always going to be on the minds of smaller providers. “It’s up to the individual security dealer to ensure they take better care of their customers and offer additional customer service that you won’t get from a large company,” he said. “Yet, there will be some franchise or chain locations that will endure dealing with the lack of customer support to get a national company.”

Eddie Buckley, president of Certified Alarm Co., in Sheffield Ala., said ADT’s targeted approach to the small business market may very well benefit smaller, more regional security companies.

“Based on past experience, our residential sales increase when national companies ramp up their marketing campaigns for residential customers,” he said. “Likewise, we expect our small business sales to increase when national companies target small businesses.”

Others were similarly unconcerned: “ADT is a minor irritation to our business,” one reader said. “We lose approximately 2 percent of our competitive proposals to ADT.”

Some readers highlighted their strengths as compared to ADT, while acknowledging there were some areas of service, like monitoring, in which they simply couldn’t compete.

“Most small companies can offer CCTV at a much more reduced rate than the big guys can offer,” said Frederick Clark of Kentland, Ind.-based Nupine Security Solutions, “But most of us smaller companies do not have the money, nor do we want the headache of a monitoring service.”

Gerald Sparrow, president of Lawrenceville, Ga.-based AMSI Security, expressed some surprise that ADT was tweaking its small business strategy rather than its residential—a market he says may be under great threat.

“I believe ADT needs to be more concerned about the much larger elephant in the room—the issue of losing its market share on the residential side from new companies like AT&T Comcast, Google and other cable providers that have entered the market,” he said.