July 2001 Handshake I-dition

The I-dition (Internet Edition) of the Handshake does not always include all articles published in the printed edition


The President's Corner

By Bob Worthy

Protect: to shield from danger or loss; guard; defend

Protecting our businesses and livelihood seems to be an ongoing responsibility to our employees, our families and ourselves. We have worked hard to build something to be proud of and hopefully will reap the rewards of our success when all is said and done. We have endured the onslaught of some of the most aggressive marketing campaigns in the history of the service industry, major acquisitions which can threaten to monopolize some markets, and legislation that could drive our operating costs out of control while trying to compete on a not-so-level playing field.

Companies contact the Association looking for help when they feel there is a threat to their livelihood. The Association can help in many cases by giving you guidance, direction to the right contacts, providing phone numbers to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the Electrical Contractors Licensing Board, the Attorney General's Office, Local DBPR Enforcement Offices, Law Enforcement Offices, etc. The Association cannot be the frontrunner for all of the problems that can threaten your business on a day-to-day occurrence. You, as a businessperson, need to pursue these issues to the maximum, on a first hand individual basis. The phone calls that are received by the Association office are predominantly related to enforcement or the lack thereof. If this is your main concern, contact the Association office for the Enforcement Agency telephone number in your area. The only way to end the threat to your livelihood is to get personally involved.

The Association is the frontrunner, for you, in the area of legislation. As you witnessed last year, with your help, we are fighting that front on your behalf. The legislative committee, along with our lobbyist, made a trip to Orlando, the first part of July, to meet with the Florida Association of Electrical Contractors. It was agreed, at that meeting, to join our efforts and lobbying, of both Associations, to combat any disagreeable language that may surface in the next legislative session. We shall support their legislative agenda as will they support ours. This is a powerful relationship and we thank their Board of Directors for the time we were afforded.

Immediately after our next Board of Directors meeting, August 4th & 5th, the legislative committee has been invited to meet with the Directors of another Association known as BICSI. This Association is predominantly communications companies. Naturally, they have the same concerns as we do,in regards, to the future of the low voltage industry. Hopefully, we will leave that meeting with the same agreement of unity as we have with the Florida Association of Electrical Contractors.

The Association is working hard, on an everyday basis, to protect each and every member company, from being run over by some outside power. You must protect your own business by staying involved, recognizing and reporting illegal business practices and demanding enforcement from your local and state agencies to protect the legal businesses and consumers of the State of Florida.

My Board Member of the Month: Chuck Kienzel. Chuck stepped up to the plate seeing that there was a need for better communications in their area. Tampa has a huge segment of members and Chuck voluntarily is leading the way to improving our presence for them.

My Regular Member of the Month: Richard Thackston. Richard owns Alarms by Bell in Fort Myers and has been an active supporter of this Association for many years. His concerns are always what are right and fair for the dealer. Recently Richard suffered a health set back and we want to wish him well and a speedy recovery. Thanks for all your concerns Richard! Get Well Soon!

My Associate Member of the Month: Marcia Johnson from Firelite. Marcia has served this industry for many years and is certainly one of the few people who have seen our industry sustain the many variations that have occurred. Through it all she has maintained a stalwart character and helped many of us through some rough times. Thank you Marcia!

My Public Safety Member of the Month: Chief Julius Halas. Julius Halas is about to be installed as the President of the Florida Fire Chief's Association. No one is more deserving. His outstanding career has resulted in assisting both the fire and security industries selflessly and he deserves high praise. Congratulations Julius!


CONVENTION TIME IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER

By Ron Toole, Convention Chairman

Our 31st Anniversary Convention and Trade Show is fast approaching and I am again honored to be this year's Convention Chairman. As with every annual convention, the Convention Committee has scheduled many exciting events and activities. First, we will be holding our annual Golf Tournament on Thursday, October 11, at the International Golf Course in Orlando. For those of you who are not quite on the professional level, we will be holding a Putt-Putt Tournament at the hotel from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm. This is for the entire family so be sure to arrive in time to participate. Thursday evening will be the Welcoming Reception to welcome everyone to the convention and there will be awards for the winners of the Golf and Putt-Putt Tournaments.

On Friday the Trade Show will be open from 1:00 pm until 7:00 p.m. The evening's Social Hour will be held on the Trade Show Floor at 6:00 p.m. This year we are expecting over 40 exhibitors to display the latest products and to provide plenty of fantastic door prizes as well. There will be $1,000 cash drawing but you must be present to win. The Trade Show will also be open on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Friday evening will include an auction and dinner. The Hospitality Suite will be open after dinner for those who choose to attend.

There are several training classes and seminars scheduled throughout the weekend. Are you looking for a Workers Comp CE Class? At the convention, there will be a 4-hour Business Practices Class on Friday, October 12th from 9am-1pm. You will receive: 1hr Workers Comp, 1hr Workplace Safety (OSHA Updates), and 2 hrs Business Practices (code changes). Seating is limited so register early. You must attend all four modules to receive your 4-hour CE credits for license renewal.

Before the Trade Show opens on Saturday, the vendors will meet to have breakfast and to elect their representatives for the AAF Board of Directors. There will be a False Alarm Reduction Conference in the morning and the General Assembly is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in the afternoon. The highlight of the weekend is the Awards Banquet on Saturday night when the Most Valuable Person of the Year is announced. The award is being sponsored by ADI. The entire weekend will be filled with education, seminars, exhibits, recreation, fun and fellowship. You won't want to miss it. So, plan now to attend and bring the family.

Most importantly, don't forget to book the hotel right away to get the special room rates. The hotel is, Sheraton World Resort (next door to Sea World), 10100 International Drive, in Orlando. The toll free reservation number is 800 327-0363. The local number is 407 352-1100 and their fax is 407 352-3679. Be sure to mention the AAF Convention when you call. The special room rates are $105 for Single/double and $120 for triple occupancy, per night. See You There!


TENTATIVE CONVENTION AGENDA

Thursday - October 11, 2001

8:00 am Registration
9:30 am Golf Tournament
11:00 am Putt-Putt Golf Tournament
(Sheraton World)
12:00 pm CE Classes (First set)
2:00 pm CE Classes (Second set)
4:00 pm CE Classes (Third set)
5:00 pm Vendor set-up (5 - 6 pm)
6:30 pm Social Hour
7:30 pm Welcome Reception & Awards
Presentation for golf and putt-putt
10:00 pm Hospitality Suite opens

Friday - October 12, 2001

7:00 am Vendor set-up (11:00 am deadline)
8:00 am Registration
9:00 am CE Class (Fourth set)
11:00 am CE Class (Fifth set)
1:00 pm Trade Show open until 7 pm
3:00 pm Fire & Police Officials only (CE)
4:00 pm Ice Cream Social
6:00 pm Social Hour (Trade Floor)
7:30 pm Auction & Dinner
10:00 pm Hospitality Suite

Saturday - October 13, 2001

8:00 am Registration
8:00 am Vendor Breakfast & Election
of Representatives
8:30 am False Alarm Reduction Conference
9:00 am Trade Show until 1:00 pm
1:30 pm Fire & Police Officials only (CE)
General Assembly
4:30 pm Ice Cream Social
6:00 pm Social Hour
7:00 pm Awards Banquet
10:00 pm AAF Hospitality Suite

Sunday - October 14, 2001

9:00 am AAF Board Breakfast
9:30 am AAF Board Meeting


10-DIGIT DIALING "UPDATE"

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tri-County alarm area:

Thanks to the prompt action of your Board of Directors, Lobbyist Eric Prutsman, and the outstanding contribution made by Mr. Roy Pollack in crafting our position paper, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided in favor of the following:

· for those numbers beginning with area code (954) there will be permissive dialing with either 7 or 10 digits commencing August 1, 2001 in the (954) area code affected and will continue through April 1, 2002;

· Additionally, those numbers issued with the new "754" area code (in this same area) will commence to be 10-digit mandatory dialing from August 1, 2001 forward.

We will be receiving this information in writing from the PSC as confirmed, but we wanted to give you an "heads up" to let you know that this Association is servicing its members through the continuous and untiring volunteer activity of its members and Board. You owe yourselves a debt of gratitude and a round of applause. Congratulations!

Bob Neely, Executive Director
Alarm Association of Florida


For Effective Selling, Nothing Beats a Testimonial
by Landy Chase

Does your company pride itself on great service? On outstanding people? On a commitment to do "whatever it takes" to satisfy clients? Of course you do. It's a shame that you have so much difficulty in getting the world to take your word for it! It certainly doesn't have to be that way.

Even in today's fast-paced, hi-tech world, nothing is more persuasive in communicating your message than a letter of recommendation from a satisfied client. Letters of recommendation substantiate your otherwise-empty claims of outstanding service. They offer tangible proof that you are capable of doing what you say you are. They reduce risk to new clients by providing conclusive evidence that others have been down this path with you, and do not regret their decision. In short, they make it easy for new clients to do business with you.

The first thing to remember about letters of recommendation is that they are only valuable in a selling situation if they cite tangible improvement as a result of the relationship with your company. Letters that talk about touchy-feely ideas like "it's a pleasure to do business with your company" and "I really enjoy the professionalism and courtesy of your staff" are nice, but they don't give your decision-maker what he or she is looking for.

The second point to remember about these documents from clients is that one or two of them are not nearly enough to give you the kind of irrefutable, total credibility that you need to gain new clients. In order to achieve this, you need a minimum of twelve to fifteen of these letters from clients, ideally from people with whom you have worked personally.

Sound like a tall order? It doesn't need to be. In just the last six months, I have requested, and received, thirty of these letters from my clients. Would you be interested in learning my secret? There are three easy steps.

  1. Keep your ears open for compliments. Pay close attention when a client is compelled to compliment you on your work. Listen for comments that cite a specific result or improvement, such as "since we began using your services, our profit margins have improved by 15%" or "after changing over to your systems, we have achieved a bottom-line savings of 12% for each of the last two years." When this kind of a compliment is paid, don't just say "thank you". Go immediately to Step 2.
  2. Ask for a letter of recommendation. After thanking your client for the feedback, simply ask, "would you be willing to write me a brief letter of recommendation that states what you just said?" Don't be afraid to do this! Most of your clients will be flattered that you asked. It is extremely rare for them to say no to your request; I have yet to encounter a single situation where this request was declined. Besides, even if they say no, there is certainly no harm in asking. Once the client has agreed to your request, go to Step 3.
  3. Offer to draft the letter for the client. In a perfect world, you could depend on the client to promptly write a glowing letter for you without your further involvement. In reality, however, the most difficult part of this process is actually getting the letter completed, because you are essentially asking your client to do "free" work. If you have ever actually written a letter of recommendation, you know how much of an inconvenience it is to actually sit down and put one of these letters together. Small wonder, then, that clients rarely follow through on their own with such requests.
  4. By offering to draft the letter for your client, you are not being "pushy" or aggressive. On the contrary, you are actually making this entire process convenient and easy for them. The added bonus, of course, is that by drafting the letter for the client, you can ensure that those wonderful things they said about you get committed to paper. This is no minor benefit, since clients oftentimes do not think, or write, the same way that you do.

Note that the key word to use when making your offer is DRAFT, not write. "Draft" correctly implies what is involved here. You are going to put together a document for their review, one that they will have the ability to amend and change as they see fit before they commit it to paper. Below is the way that I personally present this idea to my clients. It works very well for me and I am sure it will do the same for you.

"As a convenience to you, why don't I draft the letter for you. I will email it to you in a Microsoft Word document, and when it is in a format that you like, you can print it on your letterhead and send it back. How does this sound to you?"

Most of your clients will not simply say yes to your request, they will respond with "oh, that would be great!", because you are making a seemingly significant task a very easy and minor one.
Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Better than nine out of ten times, the draft you submit will be exactly, to the last punctuation mark, the letter that you receive on the client's letterhead, provided that all information you put in the draft is accurate and not exaggerated.

Once the letter is received, call the client and thank them. Also ask for their permission to be used as a reference at this point.

Once you have twelve to fifteen of these documents, you should make stapled sets of them. On top of each stapled set, have a nice cover page that boldly says, "Letters of Recommendation from Satisfied Clients" with your company name underneath. Now you have a truly outstanding persuasion tool!

The next time you find yourself in a selling situation, spare your prospective client a lot of empty promises. Instead, reach in your briefcase for a copy of your testimonial letters. Hand these to the client and say the magic words: "Anyone can tell you that they provide outstanding service. Here are fifteen clients that I work with personally. Call them yourself so that you can learn first-hand about the quality of our work."

FREE UPON REQUEST! Two actual drafts of testimonial letters from Landy's clients! For free copies, email "Ask Landy" at www.landychase.com.

Speaker, trainer, and author of The Rainmaker School audio and video series, Landy Chase, M.B.A., C.S.P., is an expert who specializes in speaking to corporations and associations on professional selling skills. For more information, or to book Landy for your next meeting, visit his website at www.landychase.com or call (800) 370-8026.


FROM THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR…..

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer………." (from the song of the same name).

(And don't I wish they were "those days of soda and pretzels and beer".)

Unfortunately this summer differs greatly from those days of old. At the present moment I am looking at my Gregorian calendar and wondering mightily how on earth I can manage to manufacture at least three extra days for each summer month. Somehow I need to create that extra time just to cram in all of the events that are happening.

Since the State legislature begins in early session in January, then all of the advance committee meetings will start sooner too. This means then, that we must contact our State legislators at the best time….at their home office. But they will only be available at home conveniently through the month of August. "Come September" (another song), they will be bouncing between here and Tallahassee for committee meetings twice each month and thence will be in session starting in January. Why is this important?

It is important because you as a member of this Association can only conveniently stop in and see your State representative or senator during the next two months of July and August. It is important because this is the only way that you can inform and educate them on the issues that affect your alarm business. It is important because, like the proverbial vampire, the issue of 'journeyman' will not die. We must drive a stake through the heart of this beast. A clove of legislative garlic will not work to ward off the bad elements of the journeyman issues.

If you value the business that you have built and the hard work that has gone into it, you MUST take the time to see and talk to your congress persons and explain to them the importance of these issues and how they affect your business. Even more devastating is the seeming lack of concern for the consumer at large. The increase costs overall would have a negative impact on the end user and they will not be happy with those who passed these laws.

But that is NOT the main issue. The main issue is the fact that you are state licensed and insured, and that you and your technicians are state certified and regularly trained biannually under state statutes by the existing law. To layer another element into the contractor's mix would be counter productive and akin to assigning a brain surgeon to an ingrown toenail. We do not need electricians on our low voltage job sites any more than they need low voltage technicians on theirs. It is that simple. Call and speak to your State congress persons professionally. Make an appointment and show them that you care about these issues and discuss them intelligently and succinctly. Above all display to them your professional image and let's help move this issue to its proper resting place. We do not need any more regulation than we have.

Bob Neely, Executive Director
Alarm Association of Florida, Inc.


REGIONAL MINUTES

Broward Region

Mary Galloway, Regional Director

The June meeting was sponsored by ADI. The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm with 26 people in attendance. Mary spoke briefly on the meeting agenda and then introduced Jim Trinchini gave the following number, ECLB#99-0125-002, for the residential and commercial structured cabling course he was presenting tonight. This is a two-hour course with the first hour being given tonight and the second hour at next month' meeting.

Mary resumed the meeting and discussed the web site with everyone's company on it and the 7 lines of free advertising that needs to be put on, further discussion was held on the side mentioning some of the features.

Ft. Lauderdale will be holding National Sheriff's Office Convention beginning June 24th at the Broward Convention Center. Volunteers are needed to man the booth.

The City of Hollywood will have CPO 1 listing as a requirement for all of the alarms installed in the city. This will be approximately in September. Some of the requirements include; 15 second dialer delay, cancel codes, etc. Installers will be required to attend a course before permit privileges will be given. On June 21st from 1-5, there is a meeting in Miami to discuss the rules and regulations applying to plans and permit requirements.

Next, Bob Neely took the floor to discuss the membership drive and how everyone can benefit.

FASA and BASA courses are coming up, they are requirements for any Burglar and Fire Techs for the 2001 renewals.

Door prizes - Bernice won a punch down tool from ADI, Phyliss of Crimeguard won an Ideal tool donated by ADI and Marshal from Crimeguard won wire lube form ADI, our meeting sponsor. The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.


NBFAA TIP OF THE MONTH


Surge Protection = Fewer False Alarms

Lightning season is here! When a power surge or lightning strike affects a burglar or fire alarm panel, it can cause a false alarm. Though lightning strikes may not be the leading cause of false alarms, they do happen, and it is in your best interest to know how to prevent these potential problems. False alarms caused by lightning strikes are controllable through power and phone line surge protection. Surge protection has been used to protect sensitive electronics for many years. This protection can protect burglar or fire alarm panels from damage and prevent many false alarms while creating a very lucrative profit center for your business! You can increase sales revenue and profits while reducing expenses associated with false alarms. Ask your manufacturer how your control panel incorporates surge protection on the detection and control circuits. In areas with frequent storms, additional steps may be required. Also ask your manufacturer what can be added to stop this source of false alarms.

Have you heard this question -- "Why add surge protection when most panels have the devices built into the control board?" The answer is simple…by installing a surge protection device at the electrical outlet where the transformer is plugged in, you allow the damaging transient to be bypassed to ground BEFORE it gets to the control panel, thereby greatly reducing the potential for false alarms and/or damage to the control board. The same is true when you install surge protection on the phone PRIOR to it entering the panel. If you haven't looked at product costs lately you might be surprised to know these devices sell for only a few dollars a piece and at least one manufacturer guarantees their devices for life and will replace them even if destroyed by a surge or transient!

Solutions:
· Use surge protectors that self-restore after dissipating the surge harmlessly to ground. Each time they do so it is a false alarm prevented. These incidents are invisible and therefore largely uncelebrated.
· Provide training for all installing employees on proper installation procedures with regards to surge protection and grounding. NTS Level I and other NTS courses cover this topic. Go to www.alarm.org for class schedules.
· Properly ground panels.

Things to Remember:
· Add surge protection to both the AC (electric power line) and the phone line. Many panels are zapped when transient voltage jumps the phone company's lightning protector and sends 100's or 1000's of volts where only 48 volts normally reside.
· Systems with weak batteries that have powered, protective devices such as motion detectors and audio sensors are susceptible to alarm trips when power is fluctuating. These batteries won't always send a low battery signal. When multiple alarms are tripping during known power storms, contact the customers and schedule to check the battery. While you're at it, check the load that the panel and battery are required to carry when AC power fails. Is the battery just too small or do you have more powered devices than the panel was designed to carry? Alarm panels built to the new SIA Standard have built-in monitoring of batteries. After a full loss of power, the panel will enter a "settling out period" where the powered devices are not brought back into the protective loop for a full minute. This will resolve the problem on new systems, but on old systems make certain that your service technicians check batteries under load conditions on every service call. Not only will you help reduce false dispatches, you'll generate good customer relations while you increase service revenue.



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