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Affiliated's Catalyst 2017

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MIAMI—On Monday I headed down to Aventura, Fla., just outside of Miami, to attend Affiliated Monitoring's second annual Catalyst, a conference focused on the sales and marketing aspects of PERS technologies. There have been a lot of interesting conversations happening at the conference; included below is a brief overview of the conference and some of the topics discussed.

Prior to the first official day of this year's Catalyst, the company held a PERS marketing primer for attendees. Mike Zydor, Affiliated's managing director, and Matt Solomon, director of software solutions for Affiliated, presented the introduction to the technology and the market. The number of people aged 65 years and older will increase in years to come, they said, adding that the typical PERS customer is in their low- to mid-eighties.

"We have lots of seniors and they live at home, they own their own homes and they want to stay in their own homes," Solomon said. Solomon and Zydor highlighted the point that often in selling PERS, a dealer is not interacting directly with the user, but with the user's adult children.

The two gave an overview of products on the market, such as in home technologies, fall detection, mobile PERS.

Zydor and Solomon delved into marketing in two key areas, direct-to-consumer and through partnerships. In discussing direct-to-consumer options, they gave an overview of paid search marketing, content marketing and SEO, print advertising, and social media among others. Of these, content marketing and SEO was highlighted as a good possibility for local efforts.

When looking for partnerships in the market, Solomon and Zydor said a dealer can look to hospitals, home healthcare agencies and senior services, among others.

The first day’s educational sessions started with an opening keynote on the state of the PERS industry, presented by Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim.

"You are living in the golden age of PERS right now, the opportunity is right now," Oppenheim said. He stated that he wanted to give attendees three main things to consider and take away from the opening address.

Firstly, he pointed out several products in the industry and their impact. While the majority of units are still in the home, Oppenheim said he’s seen fast growth in mPERS over the last two years.

The second item Oppenheim discussed is that dealers should learn more about their customers. Affiliated looked at figures from its interactions with PERS in 2016. PERS is about peace of mind, he said, pointing to the statistic that action was needed in response to a PERS button press 10 percent of the time during 2016.

Additionally, the company found out that of mobile PERS button presses, 53 percent of those users were at home. Similar to the previous years, the average age of a PERS user is 81 and the average age of an mPERS user is 78.

Lastly, Oppenheim discussed “the sale after the sale,” and that a good customer is not only one who has it delivered but one that uses it. He shared a figure: if a PERS user tests their system within the first 30 days of getting it, they were five times more likely to still be a subscriber a year later, as compared to those that didn’t test the unit within that time.

Oppenheim also noted that this year marks Affiliated Monitoring’s 40th anniversary.

Following the opening keynote, Matt Solomon presented “Agile Management in Action.” He described agile management as a methodology, or way of thinking about a business, in order to improve business efficiency.

Solomon discussed key aspects of the agile management philosophy, such as placing value in people and interactions instead of processes, delivering on the premise, working with customers and responding to change.

Agile management is a way of empowering employees to make decisions, he said. The methodology is also focused on shorter-term time frames, such as two weeks, as opposed to nine or 12 months. Agile is also about delivering value, he said.

Solomon gave attendees the chance to collaborate in a group activity, which was centered around working together, making decisions about prioritization, and ultimately seeing how the amount of work required for a task adds to the value of a business.

Prioritize, collaborate and get stuff done were three main points Solomon underlined.

“Executive Spotlight: DRTV and the Senior Market,” was the next session. Here, Daniel Oppenheim sat across from Peter Koeppel, founder and president of Koeppel Direct, a direct response media firm. In this session, Koeppel and Oppenheim had a conversation about direct response television advertising, or DRTV, and how it might fit into the PERS industry.

To start, Koeppel defined DRTV as a TV ad designed to get a consumer’s immediate response. Examples of DRTV would include commercials that instruct viewers to dial a number or visit a website to order a product or receive more information.

Koeppel said that seniors in particular are watching more TV, and they watch during the daytime, which is generally a less expensive spot for advertising. Longer time spots can work better with the senior market, he noted, allowing the number to remain on screen longer and slower talking in the commercial.

Koeppel showed two commercials as examples of DRTV and case studies for how they work—both chosen because they were designed for the senior market, much like PERS. Afterward he gave examples of how responses changed based on changes in the advertising, such as a better response to a rebate as opposed to other incentives, and more responses with a “repeater number” such as 555-1212.

In “Thought Leader Discussion: The Future of PERS,” Mike Zydor moderated a discussion with four executives from the industry: Ryan Bangerter, VP of business development for Mytrex; Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA; Scott McGeHee, VP of sales and marketing for Climax; and John Carpenter, VP of channel engagement for Nortek.

Zydor opened the session with a specific question for each speaker. Noting that Mytrex has a focus on in-home units, he first asked Bangerter about what led Mytrex to stay focused on this area of the industry. "The biggest thing is looking at demand," Bangerter said, adding that there is a demand for in-home products.

After mentioning that Essence focuses on monitoring aspects of daily living, Zydor asked Amir where he sees the market going. One of the things Amir pointed out is that monitoring daily living habits through Essence’s system doesn't necessarily require a pendant, which can help. "A pendant is perceived [as] losing their independence,” Amir said.

Zydor asked McGehee about Mytrex’s work with both mobile and in-home PERS. McGeHee said that dealers look for an easy to use, simplified offering, which fits a senior who is not comfortable with an abundance of technology.

Next, Carpenter was asked for what he sees as key features of interest in the market, particularly considering that Nortek is involved with telehealth. Carpenter said that he sees being able to add more features and functionality as a benefit amidst other offerings that look to compete on price.

The second day of Catalyst 2017 started with "Keynote Conversation with Ken Gross- Executive Spotlight: Unrivaled Success in the PERS Industry," featuring a conversation between Daniel Oppenheim and Ken Gross, founder and chairman of Connect America. The two discussed Gross' approaches and successes in the industry.

Oppenheim opened with a question about Gross' history and how he came to the PERS industry. Gross answered that he first started an alarm business in 1977, sold it in 1989 and subsequently entered a 10-year non-compete. He returned to the industry in 1999 with a new business that he sold five years later in 2004. At that time he was investing in domain names, one of which was medicalalarm.com, which led him to enter the PERS business in 2004.

When Oppenheim asked about the key turning points in Gross' business, Gross pointed to two events, one which led to the other. The first event was a positive review in Good Housekeeping, which Gross said helped the company in forming a partnership with CVS. Through this partnership, Gross’ business put a display in 6,000 CVS stores.

Oppenheim also brought the conversation to a topic from the previous day's conversation on DRTV. Gross said that he has used specific numbers, such as 800 numbers—as opposed to 877 or 833—and repeating numbers.

Gross underlined one piece of advice at a couple of occasions: picking the right partners, including the right vendor and the right central stations for the business. "Pick the right partners and stick with it," he said.

Dr. Robert Rohm, corporate trainer and author, gave the final presentation of the day, covering personality types and the best ways to interact with different types of personalities.

Personalities are oriented in a couple of different ways, according to Rohm. People are either more task oriented or more people oriented; they are also either more outgoing or reserved.

Outgoing and task oriented tends to make for a dominant personality, he said. This group of people is filled with natural born leaders and likes seeing results. This group can also be defiant.

Outgoing and people oriented means a person is very fun-loving, looks to be liked, though can be illogical at times. Incorporating fun into a sales call with an outgoing and people oriented person will help, he said.

If a person has both reserved and people oriented traits, they will be supportive and generally like teamwork and appreciation. This group of people values peace and harmony, Rohm said. This group can be a “sucker,” he said.

The last group Rohm addressed is those that are task oriented and reserved. This group looks for value and quality answers and likes to be right. These traits mean a person likes patterns and to know what is expected of them. People who are task oriented and reserved can come off as cold, Rohm noted.

Attendees seemed really pleased with the event and the educational sessions, with quite a few returning from last year. Attendees were also positive on the networking opportunities and this year’s location.

Affiliated and Essence USA launch new PERS program

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UNION, N.J.—On Monday, connected living solutions provider Essence USA announced a new program, created in partnership with Affiliated Monitoring, to benefit dealers of Essence’s PERS products.

“The fully customizable program gives dealers a range of options about how to best run their PERS offerings, including order fulfillment - direct to the consumer or distributed to the dealer, customer service, invoicing and collections, equipment retrieval and refurbishment, and branding options,” the announcement read.

“PERS is a major focus at Affiliated,” Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated’s vice president, said in a prepared statement. “We are excited to be able to provide this advanced system to our dealers who are interested in a turnkey PERS program.”

“We can customize a program for any dealer to make it easier to get into PERS,” Affiliated Managing Director Mike Zydor said in the announcement. “For the dealers already in the market, we can provide access to preprogrammed, leading-edge products at discounted rates.”

Essence’s Care@Home suite of PERS products benefits both dealers and end-users, Essence said in its announcement. The offering has a large radio communications range for devices, “allowing users maximum flexibility in moving around their home and property. They also offer a wide variety of safety and security sensors, giving dealers an attractive and scalable offering for their customer base,” the announcement said.

“Essence is on the forefront of in-home PERS technology and has a veteran management team behind it,” said Yaniv Amir, President, Essence USA, in the announcement. “Essence historically has only worked directly with larger players in the space, and we are excited to now bring our products to all Affiliated dealers.”

The program is scheduled to launch within the Affiliated dealer network at the end of May.

Affiliated to host second annual Catalyst

Daniel Oppenheim discusses plans for this conference
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03/29/2017

MIAMI—Affiliated Monitoring is bringing its Catalyst conference, focused on PERS sales and marketing, to Turnberry Isle here for its second year, May 15 through 17.

Monitoring: The argument for wholesale

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—Throughout the year one topic has been cropping up: the benefits of switching to a wholesale central station.

Several companies this year have opted to pick a third party monitoring center over continuing to operate their own central; RFI Communications switched to Rapid Response in March, Red Hawk Fire & Security partnered with Affiliated in October and recently, Comtronics switched its monitored accounts to NMC.

Some of these companies said that the move allowed them to refocus on the core of their business.

One thing that each of these companies highlighted is new-found flexibility and the ability to focus more heavily on offering new services and technologies to their customers. Specifically, these companies highlighted offerings such as mobile services and video verification with I-View Now.

This has been a pretty hot topic in the industry, it seems. I know if came up at CSAA’s annual meeting in the panel entitled “Owning vs. Contracting – Future Trends for Monitoring Centers.” I’d like to hear your opinions; Is this trend going to continue? Feel free to check out our most recent News Poll to share your views on the business benefits of either third party monitoring centers or operating your own central station. 

Red Hawk chooses Affiliated for monitoring

Red Hawk’s central station will now be owned and operated by Affiliated
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10/12/2016

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Red Hawk Fire & Security announced this week that its accounts will now be monitored by Affiliated Monitoring as part of a new alliance between the companies. Additionally, Affiliated will now own and operate Red Hawk’s central as a load-balancing monitoring center.

Wholesale monitoring company success: It’s all about the dealer

Monitoring companies mine data for dealers, provide the latest in technical offerings
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09/16/2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—Wholesale monitoring centers use a variety of methods to grow their revenue and account bases, but dealer relations and support is the key to success, according to several executives who spoke to Security Systems News.

SecurityTrax increases integrations

Company has been gaining momentum since its 2015 acquisition by Alarm.com
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08/31/2016

TYSONS, Va.—SecurityTrax, a cloud-based CRM offering from Alarm.com, integrated with four new monitoring centers recently.

Apple Watch SOS and mPERS: Apples and oranges?

PERS execs compare features, assess competition
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07/14/2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—On first inspection, the Apple Watch’s newly announced ‘SOS’ feature may seem similar to an mPERS device, but PERS experts who spoke to Security Systems News said comparing an Apple Watch with an mPERS device is like comparing apples and oranges.

Industry reacts to Apple, other possible PERS threats

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In last week’s Monitoring Matters blog, I discussed the Apple Watch’s new SOS feature, and its similarities and differences between PERS functions. A few security professionals took me up on the opportunity to respond.

Daniel Oppenheim, VP of Affiliated Monitoring, said that the heightened consumer awareness of personal emergency features could grow the market, instead of cannibalize it, and that the demographics are different. “I think the Apple Watch, specifically, is for a more mobile, more active, more tech-savvy person who would not yet be an mPERS or PERS customer.” Affiliated hosted a PERS-focused conference in May.

He pointed to Amazon, and its Echo product, as another possible entrant. “In its current iteration, the Amazon Echo is not competition, but it is a harbinger of things to come, which is the realization that consumer products now have the ability to replicate or even improve on the current technology offerings of our industry.”

Oppenheim said that neither are large concerns, but something the industry should keep an eye on. “I don’t view either [Amazon Echo’s virtual assistant] Alexa or the Apple Watch as a near-term threat to the PERS industry—I think it’s something that we need to be focused on.”

Brock Winzeler, GM of mPERS manufacturer Freeus, didn’t see much threat in the announced Apple SOS feature. “I don’t think the impact would be significant,” he said. “The reason is: It is very, very difficult to replace the services that we offer. … Our devices call a monitoring center that is specifically built to handle PERS phone calls and PERS emergencies.” 

Oppenheim shared a similar sentiment on the value of a monitoring center. “That crucial decision making process, by which an operator can have a conversation and identify whether or not help is needed—and stay on the line with the customer as help is on its way, for those that do need it—I do not see that being replaced by technology.”

Speaking more generally on voice interaction, Oppenheim said that the technology could become more prevalent in the future. “It seems complex now, but in a short period of time, the concept of voice interaction with a virtual assistant will become commonplace.”

Winzeler also said there is a technology barrier for the traditional PERS demographics. “I think you’ll have a really tough time getting the senior demographic to adopt this type of technology. I think it’s just a little more challenging.”

Rich Darling, CEO of Instant Care, an OEM PERS manufacturer, also said that PERS and Apple Watch feature differ due to their target users' abilities. “It is our belief that the Apple watch is a fantastic device for the tech savvy user. However, as a … PERS OEM we have found that the most successful products targeting the PERS market are designed to require very little from the user, and perform as required when the need arises.”

Catalyst offers advice to prospective PERS dealers

Affiliated Monitoring’s new conference gives attendees ideas for starting or bettering a PERS business
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06/14/2016

NAPLES, Fla.—Attendees at Affiliated Monitoring’s Catalyst conference walked away with advice on how to start or advance a PERS business, such as devoting resources specifically to PERS sales and marketing and understanding which technology to sell.

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