'We are providing something completely different'

DMP event provides tips on competing with telecoms, cablecos, including bundling services and stressing their local ties
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Monday, April 21, 2014

LAS VEGAS—Bob Harris, owner and president of Attrition Busters, warned an audience of Digital Monitoring Products’ security dealers that he was going to “speak about that dirty little word: cable.”

Harris, a security consultant who conducts training sessions for large and small alarm dealers, was one of the featured speakers at a DMP Owners Forum, held here in early April. It was the third year the Springfield, Mo.-based manufacturer of network solutions has held the annual forum and Harris’ topic was how the new cable and telecom players are impacting the industry.

His message was that while cablecos and telecoms should not be discounted, professional security companies still have plenty of opportunity to successfully compete with them. “This may be the best time to be in the alarm business and grow your company,” Harris said.

But he said security companies can’t just watch the situation from the sidelines. When it comes to cable and telecom competitors, Harris said, “proactive or reactive? It’s up to you.”

He said security companies should avoid several “common mistakes that undermine business potential.”

One mistake that Harris said many companies make is “walk past recurring monthly profit.” He asked, “On every single service call, how often do we stir the pot so our service techs bring intel back?”

Also, Harris said, many companies fail to provide sales and customer service training to their employees, even though such training is vital.

“Every single employee in our company is in the sales department and I’m talking about the company operator,” he said. All employees also frequent restaurants and local business and have friends and family who call can be potential customers, he said.

Harris also warned against “devaluing professionalism by competing on ‘price’ as the significant differentiator.” He told the dealers, “There are effective ways to overcome that low price.”

For example, he said, security companies have to stress to customers that they stand out from cablecos and telecoms in that they’re the local providers who are members of the community.

Harris asked the dealers if they would buy items such as furniture or a refrigerator or new car from their cable provider. When they said, “No,’ he asked, “Why are your customers buying core security offerings from cable?”

Professional security companies also should bundle more services, like the big players do, Harris said. “We need to educate our teams with new levels of possibilities that empower them to lose the fear of selling value bundles,” he said.

Also, he said, adding fire services is a way to distinguish a company. “I don’t see a cable company going out to do fire systems anytime soon,” Harris said.

He continued, “There’s a litany of things we can do to make a sticky customer, just by default.”

Rick Britton, DMP CEO and president, also urged the dealers to take steps to compete with the big players, such as offering a single bill for bundled services. And adding interactive services is a way for dealers to double and triple RMR, he said.

“I think that’s a real opportunity for us,” Britton said.

He said of the cablecos and telecoms, “I think we can beat them all day long, any place, any time” because professional security providers are known, trusted providers. “We are providing something completely different,” Britton said.