Don’t Blame Aggressive Security and Home Automation Co’s. for ‘Stealing’ Clients – CEPro
Every summer, companies like Vivint drop thousands of kids off in targeted locations around the country to sell security and home automation systems door-to-door, mostly smart-home products from UTC’s Interlogix and Nortek’s 2Gig Technologies with SHaaS (smart home as a service) from Alarm.com.
These door-knockers – mostly Mormon students who are fresh off their missions and used to getting doors slammed in their faces – sell some 250,000 systems during the summer season alone.
The “summer sales model,” as it’s known, may have a shady reputation, but generally the larger companies like Vivint (ADT and Protection One dealers also do some door-knocking) are legitimate businesses acting legally in the neighborhoods they visit.
Many of them sell on sheer scare tactics alone, but the best of the lot sell the lifestyle benefits of home automation and remote home monitoring.
So, even if you as an integration company are not offering security (why?!) then you should still fear these firms for the smart-home systems they sell. They are targeting your existing customers and your prospects – especially those in affluent neighborhoods—and make no mistake, they will win them.
As for prospective customers who have never had home automation – the vast majority of the U.S. population, rich and poor – no one has ever talked to them about it before. Now someone is at the door talking about the technology and all the wondrous things it can do for the home owner.
As for your existing clients that take the bait, most likely you lost them because they haven’t heard from you in a while. They forgot you exist or they never knew you installed cameras and smart door locks. They thought you were just their A/V guy or their alarm installer.
This is not news to most integrators – you know you need to improve and codify your customer follow-up procedures. If you don’t, the door knockers and other aggressive sales organizations will steal them.
If you think the client who bought a five-figure system from you five years ago wouldn’t settle for a door knocker’s goods, think again. If you haven’t communicated with that client over the years, their system is likely unplugged and idle and they’re open to whatever comes their way.
Lessons from a Dealer
We have preached this message of ongoing customer care for a very long time. But it still bears repeating. And no one says it better than dealers themselves.
The missive below (edited for grammar and clarity) comes from Brien Welwood of Alliance Security Systems in Cambridge, Ontario. It was relayed in an email newsletter from Ken Kirschenbaum, an attorney specializing in security and low-voltage systems.
Kirschenbaum has just released his latest contract for installers, “Home Automation and Integration”, available for $750. He says he will follow it up with information on low-voltage regulations by jurisdiction.
We thank Welwood and Kirschenbaum for sharing.
Door knocking groups surface every year and prey on the unsuspecting consumer. Their success is often attributed to negligence of the security industry in general.
In many cases, customers are easily swayed by a new face at the door, simply because they have not heard from their current security company in years.
We can attest to this from first-hand experience. Over our 45 years in the security business, we have seen these sales groups swoop in with effective spiels and dupe customers into signing agreements. I could waste your entire day relating these stories, but the bottom line was simply an erosion of our customer base. Sure, we managed to recover some, but the most damage was caused to the customer who was exposed to this unprofessional experience and they now view the entire security industry with a jaundiced eye.
As we spoke to customers who had switched, the most common reason was: they had not heard from us in years, and in some cases decades.
When you hear statements like, “The only time we hear from you is when we receive your invoice,” we realized the problem was us, not the competition.
So, once we understood the problem, we placed a program into gear that is showing enough positive results, that it is worth sharing.
We assembled a mailer, designed to inform the customer on something worthwhile—in one case, simply information on a new bylaw that would affect them. This information piece was not designed to sell them anything, simply an information piece they would benefit from. The importance was simply placing the name and logo in front of them, just keeping in touch with our customer base. Ironically, sales were generated from this mailing piece in different ways.
Bottom line is, we in the industry take our customers for granted and then whine when they leave because of our neglect. These customers have choices and if we don’t pay attention to them, the competition surely will.
By the way, you should subscribe to Kirschenbaum’s email newsletter. You’ll pick up some useful legal information that is related directly to your business.