‘Sow good services; sweet remembrances will grow them.’

Madame de Stael  French author (1766 – 1817)


I had occasion recently to travel with two friends to a business meeting by vehicle and the trip lasted about four hours. The meeting we attended was not related to the security industry and in fact dealt with antique vehicles and restoration. During the ride we eventually came to discuss the current state of the security industry today.

Each of these other gentlemen is not in any way connected with the security industry. However one is very much schooled as an engineer and has a vast knowledge of electronics, mechanics and design. He also owns a manufacturing company founded by his grandfather over 100 years ago that creates marine vessel products.

This man is not part of our industry, but never the less fully understands alarm signaling. He knows and fully understands what he speaks about and rarely if ever engages in conversation in which he does not posses a general working knowledge of the subject at hand.

In our discussion of the security industry he related to me an experience he had as an alarm customer regarding his residence. His system had been installed by a highly regarded local alarm company (highly regarded both by customers and also our industry in fact.) They had installed it some 20 years ago and the quality of the equipment and the installation were high as well in a substantial residence in an upscale neighborhood.  He rarely if ever experienced any problems with the system and most of the time was able to use the system with little effort.

On a few occasions lightning adversely affected the system; however the contract company responded timely and repaired the problems. As a matter of curiosity as an engineer he managed to locate a complete shop manual for the model of the alarm in his home so he could better understand its working. He even managed to locate some spare parts for a rainy day in case he needed them.

Time went by and as happens in our industry the alarm company in question was sold and absorbed by another, then another, etc. One day a sensor in the system went bad and the subscriber simply replaced the door contact and called to the central station to test the system. It was then that he discovered the system was not communicating to anyone. The installer had written down the central station communicator number so out of curiosity the user tried dialing in on that with a standard phone. It went unanswered. He called the alarm company. They then tried testing with no result.

Ultimately they discovered that when the original company had been purchased, whoever transferred the communicator lines from the old company location to the new purchasing company had missed several lines. In fact this customer had not had central station monitoring for over eight months. When he asked them to make sure he was connected they stated they could not because of the proprietary nature of the old equipment and they could no longer program the system to the changes. He asked if they could adapt the old system to a dialer, they again refused. In short they demanded that he pay for a new control panel and associated materials to make the system whole. When he pointed out that perhaps a trade would be in order since he had not had monitoring for eight months (but had paid for it) they again refused to accommodate the customer.

In taking the attitude they did, the alarm dealer alienated a perfectly good long term subscriber. By not budging from a firm pay ‘for it or else’ stance they angered the customer who no longer wanted to deal with them. During the entire process they also treated the customer as if he was ignorant and knew nothing about the system, its function or it’s deign. Someone in the new alarm company had established a ‘bottom line’ policy and that was being observed to the letter by the company manager with no deviation or allowance for customer need.

If you consider that this customer had been long term (almost twenty years), loyal to a fault, took an interest in his security system, was sincere in his efforts to communicate with the company and would likely be around for another 10-15 years as a good paying customer, would you not think it would be in the best interest of the alarm company to accommodate a simple business package?

Sometimes in our effort to be firm in business dealings we loose sight of the end result. Better to have a loyal long term customer and benefit from their loyalty through word of mouth advertising and recurring revenue than to make one angry and have him tell ten of his friends to never deal with your unforgiving policies. Think about how you would like to be treated. Most people only want what they consider to be fair. That’s all. Treat them fairly and they will come back for more.

Bob Neely

Executive Director

Alarm Association of Florida