As we grow, our needs change. What worked for your business a few years ago might not be what your business needs now. Dealers find themselves in this predicament regularly. Perhaps you find yourself in this situation now. Maybe you currently own and manage your own central station and want to move on from the stress and challenges associated with that responsibility. Or maybe your original wholesale monitoring center is no longer a good fit for your business.
There are certainly advantages to owning your own central station. You can really keep your finger on the pulse of your customer service and implement what you believe are best practices when it comes to serving your subscribers. That said, we aren’t telling any tales out of school here by saying running your own central station is a lot of work. For starters, it is expensive to maintain up-to-date technology and difficult to find, train, and maintain quality staffing.
If you find yourself open to start exploring new monitoring solutions, here are a few tips to ensure you align your business with the best possible partner.
Referring to running your own in house monitoring center, Rob Discoll, general manager for Koorsen Fire and Security, said it best in an interview with SSN.
“It’s a double-edged sword. You do have better control of your customer service, but that does not translate into better customer service unless you can execute better than the third-party company you would otherwise use.”
When you own and operate your own central station, you are also burdened with everything it takes to keep it operational — technology, staffing, adhering to local regulations, financials, etc. Mr. Discoll continues:
“We continue to choose the third-party model because we believe it allows us to focus our resources on providing the best customer service for sales, installation and on-site service.”
Mr. Discoll is essentially saying that by delegating the monitoring portion of their business to a provider that specializes in monitoring, it affords them more time and resources to focus on what they do best — sales, installation, and customer care.
Ian Schatz of Advanced Security was interviewed on SDM Podcasts and expressed why his company decided to switch their in-house monitoring to a wholesale monitoring provider.
"We’re currently located in Eureka, California, and frankly, we are located in severe earthquake country. Being on coastal California we are also subject to tsunamis. And our other office in Santa Rosa almost burned down in the California wild fires.”
Providing redundancy for their customers was a major priority for Advanced Security. They also had an additional requirement in their area that their monitoring center needed to be UL Listed. Instead of investing in building a new central station that was UL Listed and in a more ‘environmentally stable’ part of the country, they decided to look into a new wholesale monitoring solution for their business. Can you relate to any of the above?
Here are some questions that are applicable in this decision. These questions are relevant, incredibly difficult to answer, and critically important to the future of your brand and business:
If alarm monitoring is not your forte or expertise, and is not something you are investing in and innovating around, then it’s safe to assume you are not ‘really in’ the monitoring service business. If it has become burdensome, technologically stagnant, or even possibly putting your subscribers at risk through lack of redundancy and other services, then this may be a good time to makes some changes so you can focus on what you do best. Peter Drucker said this on the matter:
“Actually, ‘what is our business’ is almost always a difficult question which can be answered only after hard thinking and studying. And the right answer is usually anything but obvious.”
If a business is not clear on who they are or what business they are in, how is anyone on the outside going to understand or guess right? So, if doing your own monitoring takes you away from the things you need to be focusing on to grow your business, read on.
A responsible wholesale monitoring service provider will take all the stress and responsibilities of monitoring off your plate. It’s what they are focused on all day every day. It’s the business they are ‘really in.’ And it allows you to thrive at the business you are ‘really in.’
Here are some priorities to consider as you explore selecting a new monitoring service partner:
Redundancy – To ensure subscriber safety in all scenarios, redundancy should be high on your list. You’ll want a central station with multiple hot redundant sites. Signals received by a central station with multiple fully redundant sites immediately switch over to another site in the event that one goes down without any change in service. You’ll want a provider that performs regular failover tests to ensure the backups always kicks in.
Innovation – Does your central station invest in their technology on an ongoing basis to provide you with cutting-edge tools to help manage your business for success?
Integrations – It is essential for a monitoring service to be flexible and capable of facilitating integrations with a variety of platforms and services to meet your needs.
Certifications - When it comes to an industry that helps saves lives, it is important that you partner with a monitoring service that to stays up-to-date with the most esteemed certifications and memberships (i.e., TMA 5 Diamond, Underwriters Laboratories, FM Approved, and more).
People – No need to tell you how critical this is. Consider their service levels. Is it evident they enjoy what they are doing and care about the people they serve? Do you recognize a culture of caring? Are they well trained to execute processes and action plans consistently with speed, accuracy, and compassion? Are training programs strong and ongoing? Is the provider able to maintain healthy staffing levels, including nights, weekends, and holidays? All of these considerations are a big deal for your subscribers.
Core Values – Last, but perhaps the most important consideration is a company’s set of core values. Do their values fall in line with what is most important to your business? A good fit in core values results in a partnership relation of trust and collaboration to maximize your potential for success.
Moving from one central station to another or moving on from doing your own monitoring is a huge step that has many moving pieces. Here are some ideas to consider in making the move:
Advanced Security consulted with a security strategies advisor in choosing their new wholesale monitoring partner. A company such as MacGuard, headed by Kirk MacDowell, can help your business explore your strengths and weakness, determine your businesses needs, and help you match that with the offerings of a wholesale central station.
Such an advisor can help you gather bids and introduce you to various providers to start the conversation. They can do much of the heavy lifting in terms of research when you are exploring central station options. This approach helps you get an unbiased and objective look at your company and its needs.
Another way to make your monitor service transition easier is to own your phone lines and IP addresses. It can be a difficult if you are in a situation where you share a line or are using VoIP lines for your communications. Owning your own phone lines will not only make it easier for you to move from one station to another, but also make the transition for the central station you are moving to much cleaner and straightforward. Keep your IP can be a great resource for managing, controlling and rerouting alarm signals.
It is also beneficial to keep a good standing relationship with the phone companies who provide your communications lines. Even big companies with multiple phone lines can be transferred or rerouted within a few minutes with a phone call to your telecommunications rep at the phone company.
Finally, go out and meet with the leadership and see the facilities you are potentially planning to partner with. See first-hand the technology, operations, leadership, and culture that is going to be taking over the monitoring duties for your accounts.
“The biggest surprise for me is that I sleep better at night,” Ian Schatz said in the SDM podcast. “I ran the operations for our business for 13 years and there wasn’t a week where I didn’t get a critical incidents call, and they can occur at any hour of the day. I literally get peace of mind knowing that a much larger staff and redundant facility is there to monitor our accounts.”
If you’re wondering who Ian Schatz and the Advanced Security team chose as their monitoring partner, we are honored to say it was AvantGuard Monitoring Centers.
AvantGuard is a premier provider of wholesale alarm monitoring, offering professional monitoring services, cloud monitoring and hybrid partnerships. We utilize the most advanced monitoring technology with three state-of-the-art, hot-redundant call centers, along with skilled operators who respond promptly and compassionately. AvantGuard proudly meets or exceeds all industry standards of excellence.
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AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, LLC. | P.O. Box 15022 | Ogden, UT 84415 | Office: (877) 206-9141 | Fax: (801) 781-6133