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AT&T adds more Digital Life markets

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07/22/2013

DALLAS—AT&T announced today that it plans to launch Digital Life, its home automation/home security product, in six more markets beginning this Friday: Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, San Diego, San Jose and Tampa.

Curbing central station turnover

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Earlier today, a participant in the Central Station Alarm Association listserv broached the topic of turnover in central stations. The author discussed several themes relevant to this topic, including the potentially negative impact on the bottom line, the strain on the training department, and the relationship between turnover and a central station’s culture.

The redeeming point from the post was the author’s statement that supervisors, rather than accepting a lack of continuity as inevitable, should instead take steps to better understand why people are leaving, and resolve to change the culture before more operators are out the door.

It’s a highly sensible approach to addressing the problem. But in the monitoring world, it’s easier said than done.

Steve Doyle, vice president and CEO of the Central Station Alarm Association, said turnover is a “perennial problem” for central stations, particularly when it comes to operator jobs, which are entry-level, often require late (or very early) “graveyard” shifts, and are seldom viewed as long-term career jobs.

Monitoring, of course, is not the only industry to encounter this problem. Traditional call centers, Doyle said, have an even higher rate of turnover. But while the issue may be native to the industry, there are steps central station managers can take to mitigate it.

Doyle said educational programs are a good idea. They can help operators “get a wider perspective of what they do, and how they relate to the authorities who have jurisdiction.” Recognition is another means of decreasing turnover, he said. CSAA, in particular, has been at the vanguard in terms of recognizing central station operators, particularly through its CSAA Excellence Award for Operator of the Year, which was recently presented for the eighth year running. But individual central stations can also present their own intra-company award.

Certifications and awards have become a source of pride and credibility for many central stations, not to mention a form of public outreach, Doyle said.

“If you go around to central stations and see certifications on the wall, what they’re saying to the public is that we didn’t just put somebody in the chair here,” he said. “We taught them the right way to do things.”

The takeaway from my conversation with Doyle was that even a problem as persistent as central station turnover can, to some extent, be curtailed. 

CPI continues on road less traveled

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07/01/2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Like many monitoring companies, CPI Security Systems chalks up some of its recent success to the boon of technological advances, from smartphone apps to home automation capabilities.

CPI reels in pair of CSAA awards

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06/24/2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—CPI Security Systems, based in Charlotte, N.C., won a pair of CSAA Excellence Awards at ESX last week, including the award for CSAA Central Station of the Year.

New venture takes MJ Vance wherever she is needed

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, she was exploring opportunities in security consulting after a stint with 1 Time Inc. in Nevada and the Central American nation of Belize. Now the CSAA’s 2007 Manager of the Year has launched a venture that combines her love of travel with her dedication to the industry: plugging in as a temporary central station manager whenever and wherever she is needed.

“It’s a new concept and I truly believe there is a market for it,” Vance said last week from her home base outside of St. Louis. “When I came up with the idea, I asked myself what makes me happy and what am I good at. … I used to fly many years ago for British Caledonian, which is now British Airways, and I was always ready to pick up and go. And what’s my passion? The security industry. So what’s tying me down now? Nothing.”

Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, said the “have manager, will travel” concept will appeal to companies that need an experienced hand to fill in at vacation time, to help groom a new monitoring supervisor, or to handle more pressing concerns.

“I just got a call last night from a prospective client who said he had a central station manager who had some personal problems and just up and left,” she said. “Although that’s not the best way to exit, it does happen, so what do you do? Who fills in until a seasoned manager is hired? That’s where my services come in.”

Vance’s experience includes eight years at CenterPoint Technologies, where she was vice president of operations and business development. She also has served as the president of ESA of Missouri, president of the St. Louis Alarm Association, and treasurer of the Missouri Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. She received the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Vance said she keeps the identities of her clients confidential and that her services aren’t limited to the United States. “I have passport, will travel. It’s current,” she said with a laugh. To find out more, drop her an email at mjvancemj@hotmail.com.

Need lower attrition? Balance price and value

Analyzing customers’ habits can be the key to long-term retention, says Devcon’s Brandon Savage
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05/07/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—When it comes to alarm services, customers can choose packages ranging from a Pinto to a Ferrari. If you’re lucky, they’ll pony up for a Ferrari. But will they get their money’s worth by putting it through its paces?

Barnes Associates/SSN wholesale monitoring survey finds accounts up nearly 11 percent in 2012

Michael Barnes calls results 'very positive indicator' for industry
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03/13/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—The wholesale monitoring industry posted surprisingly strong growth in 2012, with accounts increasing 10.7 percent and average RMR for alarm companies following nearly in lock step, according to a new survey led by Barnes Associates.

Monitoring America: All for one, one for all

Central station co-op going strong with formula of joint ownership and annual dividends
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03/13/2013

TULSA, Okla.—For the alarm company owners who pooled their resources to form the Monitoring America cooperative in 1989, the premise was simple: A sum is greater than its parts, especially when it comes to getting personal service from a central station and a return on your investment.

Checkpoint plans to sell CheckView, monitoring center

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03/06/2013

THOROFARE, N.J.—Checkpoint Systems, a global supplier of loss-prevention products and solutions for the retail industry, announced this week that it is planning to sell its CheckView business, including CheckView’s monitoring center in Minnesota.

Is your social media strategy up to par?

If it’s not, your bottom line and reputation could be suffering, experts tell a CSAA audience
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02/13/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp.

If your alarm company isn’t familiar with these big hitters in social media, eventually it will be—whether you like it or not. The key is to embrace the tools that otherwise could be used against you, or at the very least used by your competition to profit at your expense.

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