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Steve Doyle

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. 

Help the CSAA track trends in monitoring

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What are central stations doing to keep up with times—and the competition—when it comes to technology, reducing false alarms and other issues of importance to the industry?

The Central Station Alarm Association would like to know.

The CSAA is looking for help in tracking technology trends and investments in personnel at monitoring centers across the country. The goal is to establish a databank “that will be useful in benchmarking performance” in the industry, according to CSAA Executive Vice President Steve Doyle.

The topics range from the basics—the number of accounts that a central handles and the certifications it has—to specifics about advanced technologies and operational policies. PERS, GPS-assisted calls, UL2050 accounts, video monitoring, video-verified alarms, ASAP protocols and employee training procedures—it’s all covered.

It’s important information that will allow the CSAA to see where the monitoring industry is and where it’s heading. The 25-question survey is also easy to complete—I filled out a placebo version in five minutes, faster than the refs could sort out a holding call in the Pats-Ravens game.

To complete the survey, click here. Participants will receive an executive summary of the findings, which will be released publicly Nov. 11-13 at the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar in Fairfax, Va.
 

Tweet smart: Cashing in on social media

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You don’t have to look very hard to find an alarm company that isn’t keeping pace with technology. It can be difficult to stay on top of the latest and greatest, and some people are reluctant—or even defiant—when it comes to saying goodbye to the tried and true in favor of the Next Big Thing.

That attitude often spills over to the world of social media. Facebook? Twitter? “Friends” and Tweets fly just fine for the junior set, but we’re adults here. Besides, who has that kind of time to throw around?

Maybe your competition.

Social media is rapidly becoming a must-have business tool, and companies that aren’t wielding it effectively risk selling themselves short in an increasingly aggressive marketplace. Exposure and name recognition can translate into accounts no matter where you’re based or how big you are.

That fact hasn’t been lost on the Central Station Alarm Association, which will host a webinar Nov. 7 on social media strategies and how they can affect your business. Teresa Brewer of System Sensor and Michael Kremer of Intertek/ETL will discuss how to use social media to acquire customers or get referrals, boost attendance at company-sponsored events, and increase inquiries via your website or over the phone.

For those who have a success story to pass along, email Brewer at Teresa.brewer@systemsensor.com or Kremer at Michael.kremer@intertek.com. Registration information for the webinar will be available soon on the CSAA’s website.

Welcome aboard: In other CSAA news, the group’s international board of directors has approved Jay Hauhn as first vice president of the Executive Committee and Peter Lowitt as secretary. Hauhn is CTO of Tyco Integrated Security; Lowitt is president of Hicksville, N.Y.-based Lowitt Alarms & Security.

“The CSAA Nominating Committee did an exceptional job in vetting these outstanding candidates, and the unanimous vote of the board of directors reflects the complete confidence of the board in both of these exceptional gentlemen,” CSAA Executive Vice President Steve Doyle said in a prepared statement.

New head of the class at CSAA

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whether it’s informing members about best practices, the latest technology or training that can help their bottom lines, the Central Station Alarm Association has made it a mission to constantly raise the bar. That bar got a boost this month with the appointment of Stephanie S. Morgan, the CSAA’s first full-time director of education and training.

In her newly created position, Morgan will be responsible for expanding the CSAA’s technical and professional training, and for building on its foundation of courses, workshops and webinars. She joins the organization after 10 years in post-secondary education as an instructor and administrator.

“She brings a depth of understanding of the theoretical and practical applications of education and training not only to CSAA, but to the industry as well,” Steve Doyle, CSAA executive vice president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “No industry succeeds in the long term without goals to continually educate and upgrade its work force. Stephanie will bring a fresh perspective to our programs and long-term educational goals.”

Morgan recently completed her doctorate in rhetoric and composition, with a concentration in technological literacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Five Diamond club: Congratulations also go out to the Crime Alert Monitoring Center of San Jose, Calif., which recently received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. Crime Alert is one of fewer than 150 centrals nationwide to have earned the distinction.  

Industry 'visionary' killed in car crash

John Mabry was a CSAA board member and past president
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11/22/2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—Industry members are mourning the death of John Mabry, who died Friday in a head-on vehicle collision in Georgia while en route to visit family in that state. Mabry, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) president from 1981-1983 and also a longtime ex-officio board member, is being remembered this week for his expertise and dedication to the industry, and for his warm personality.

ESX reinvests $1m in security industry since 2008

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10/03/2011

VIENNA, Va. and IRVING, Texas—AE Ventures, the management company that produces the annual Electronic Security Expo for the Central Station Alarm Association and the Electronic Security Association, announced on Aug.

CSAA, IAFC battle false alarms, falsehoods

The groups fight misinformation as they work together in an effort to reduce false alarms
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03/03/2011

VIENNA, Va.— To combat the problem of frequent false alarms in commercial facilities, the Central Station Alarm Association has been working with the International Association of Fire Chiefs for the past year to come up with some proposed NFPA 72 code changes. Now the groups say they’re fighting a misinformation campaign about the changes, battling such claims that they’re “in bed” together and that the proposals are dangerous.