Vivint to open new sales center in Washington state

The door-to-door company looks to diversify by growing inside sales 75 percent this year
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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

PROVO, Utah—Home automation/home security giant Vivint is opening a new 400-employee sales center in Washington state, part of a move by the door-knocking company to diversify itself by increasing inside sales.

“The bigger vision over time is that we still have this strong summer-program model but we have a more diversified channel, meaning we’re not just a door-to-door company doing direct-to-home sales but we also have a very strong inside sales program that provides balance,” Josh Houser, Vivint VP of global channel sales, told Security Systems News.

He said the new center in Liberty Lake, Wash., a suburb of Spokane, will be Vivint’s second inside sales center and the first one outside its headquarters here. The company also is growing inside sales in Provo, Houser said. It already has about 400 phone sales personnel at its center here and is adding about 80 employees to their ranks each month, he said.

“[With] inbound and outbound [calls] through our global channel sales, right now we’re on track to put on more than 60,000 accounts,” Houser said. “It’s our best year ever—up by 75 percent compared to last year.”

The new Liberty Lake center is expected to be operating by early August, Houser said. He added, “And maybe in the future, we’re looking at a third center.”

Door knocking is still very much a part of Vivint’s sales approach. In 2012, Vivint generated 152,000 accounts through door-to-door sales, the company said.

“We absolutely love our door-to-door program,” Houser said. “We think we have the best sales force on the face of the earth. However, we’d like to see our sales channel just become more diversified.”

He said the company in the past couple of years “started to move the pendulum so there’s a more blended model. And our inside sales department, part of our global channel sales, that’s one of the big drivers of our new growth.” The company’s inbound calls are generated in part by Vivint’s television, radio and Internet ads.

Vivint in December was acquired by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion. Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen told SSN at that time that the new capital would help the company grow its inside sales.

Houser said the Blackstone deal has made a big difference.

“When you look at our spending … let’s say Internet advertising, I was spending a fraction a year ago to what I spend today, and that’s the same with radio, shared mail and a lot of these things that I do to drive inbound traffic,” Houser said. “And it’s really our partnership with Blackstone that’s allowed us to really put gas into our vehicle to make it really take off. So they’re helping to fuel our growth and we’re having an amazing year this year, both the summer program and the channel sales, and really our best days are ahead of us.”

He said Vivint’s new sales center was being courted by a number of communities in the nation, but Vivint chose Liberty Lake for reasons that included a well-educated demographic in need of jobs. The Spokane area has numerous colleges and universities, including Gonzaga University, Whitworth University and Washington State University’s Spokane campus.

Houser said that at the 25,000-square-foot space Vivint will rent at the Liberty Lake Business Center, the company will bring “the same culture we have in Provo.”

For example, he said, the jobs at the new center will be well paid and include benefits such as a free lunch each day, just like Provo employees get. “It’s not just any free meal,” he said. “We have a big cafeteria and serve about six of seven things a day. It might be filet mignon one day, or shrimp, or we have sushi. We also have 30 kinds of soda, and as much hot chocolate as they can put down.” Also, he said, employees can relax using computers or by playing pingpong or other games. “We try to make a really cool, fun environment,” he said.

He said the reason is not only to build community—mealtimes can be a way to share ideas, for example—but to model a positive attitude for employees. “The way we serve and treat our employees is the way we want them to serve and treat our customers,” Houser said.

Greater Spokane Inc., the economic development group that began working with Vivint last fall as it considered Liberty Lake, said Vivint’s new center will “add new tax revenues to the city, the county and the state. The annual regional economic impact is estimated to be in the neighborhood of about $62.3 million.”

Vivint is also receiving some incentive funds to help it relocate, according to the Greater Spokane group. Houser said the funding was a “nominal amount” to help with training and moving some staff. “We appreciate them doing that,” he said. Some of the company’s leadership will relocate to Liberty Lake, he said.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said in a prepared statement: “I'm looking forward to welcoming Vivint to Spokane and watching their business thrive. I know other states were interested in Vivint's business and I appreciate the work of Greater Spokane Inc. and the Department of Commerce for successfully recruiting an innovative new company that will employ hundreds of people."