One of the most difficult things for any central station to manage is keeping up with advancements in monitoring technology. When a central station is technologically stagnant, it limits the growth of each individual dealer it serves. For example, there are many operational central stations that require dealers to call into the monitoring station when they need to put an account on test. Also, there are central stations that still don’t have redundancy to continue operating in the event of a natural disaster or power outage. That could leave a dealer’s customers in a precarious situation, and ultimately shines a negative light on the dealer.
Migrating accounts from one central station to another or from a proprietary monitoring operation to a wholesale central monitoring station can be stressful, especially during acquisitions. That wasn’t the case for Mark Russell, General Manager of Southern Alarm & Security. AvantGuard (AG) acquired Southern Alarm’s monitoring service provider in March of 2022. This started a new chapter for their company, having been with the same central station for over 40 years.
Southern Alarm is a family owned and operated business that opened its doors in 1936. They are known as one of the original alarm companies in North Carolina. Their original monitoring service provider was Daniels Monitoring, starting in 1980. Daniels served as their central station until 2022 when they were acquired by AvantGuard. AG continues to serve as Southern Alarm’s premier monitoring provider today.
Transitioning from Daniels, a small monitoring service with only a handful of operators, to AvantGuard, a premier monitoring provider with eight central stations across the United States and Canada, meant they would likely experience drastic changes in their monitoring operation.
AvantGuard handles all dealer transitions with care and a wealth of experience. Whether it be a single residential account or hundreds of thousands of accounts, AG uses a proven account migration process with a dedicated transition team of experts that are there every step of the way.
“Leading up to the transition, we felt well informed. We knew exactly when every step of the transition was going to take place,” said Russell about the initial transitioning period from Daniels to AvantGuard. “Everything was greatly communicated through your team to ours. Shareen was our Dealer Care rep, and she was great to answer any questions we had. She was right on it. We were able to sit back and let AvantGuard make the transition happen. There were a few hiccups, but it was rather simple, honestly.”
Southern Alarm was transitioning over 3,000 accounts from Daniels Monitoring Services to AvantGuard. The transition of Southern Alarm’s cellular accounts migrated without any issues, but hardlines didn’t transition as nicely. “We noticed that our hardline signals initially weren’t reaching the central station, but I got ahold of my Dealer Care rep, and they were able to fix the issue within the day we called,” said Russell.
Relationships, Service and Trust are parts of the foundation that make up AG’s ‘We Care F.I.R.S.T’ company culture. Mark Russell relied on the Dealer Care team at AvantGuard to help navigate their first central station transition in 40 years. With dedicated Dealer Care reps at his service, Southern Alarm was able to make a smooth transition, building the beginnings of a great relationship of trust with their new monitoring service provider - AvantGuard.
For Mark Russell, the change in monitoring providers proved to be beneficial for both the company and their customers.
“When we moved to AvantGuard, we felt like we moved 20 years into the future,” said Russell. “One of the great things about moving over to AG was the technology. Before we moved to AvantGuard, we still had to call in everything to put a system on test and to check zones and signals, we had to call directly to do whatever we needed.”
Now Southern Alarm no longer needs to call into the central station for these requests thanks to the AG Mobile Technician App. The app lets dealers test thousands of accounts every month. Dealers can view accounts by location with Google Maps integration, test a zone, or an entire account. Dealers can also customize testing by time, zone, or category. It also provides them with a detailed test history providing helpful insights and saving technicians’ valuable time. And all this can be done from the convenience of the technician’s mobile phone.
“The [AG] app is something we are certainly glad we have now. It pulls customers from the neighborhood you are currently in and puts them on test right away. It’s an amazing feature and tool,” said Russell regarding the AG mobile app.
The ability to run reports and manage accounts through Stages and the Dealer Dashboard within the My.AG Dealer Portal is another benefit that Southern Alarm gained from the transition to AvantGuard. The Dealer Dashboard is AvantGuard’s data visualization tool available to all AvantGuard dealer partners. It is designed to help dealers minimize attrition, maximize monitoring efficiency, and capitalize on service opportunities. Using the customizable dashboard, dealers can take a deeper look at customer trends to ensure the best customer experience possible. The Dealer Dashboard shows the activity level of your account base and indicates the efficiency with which AvantGuard is processing alarm events.
“Until we moved to AG, it was difficult gathering specific information about individual accounts. Now, we can run reports and make things easy for ourselves and find out what is going on with our accounts,” said Russell.
Southern Alarm has benefited from AvantGuard’s integration with Alarm.com. The integration with Alarm.com makes it easy for dealers to manage Alarm.com accounts in Stages. “The integration with Alarm.com has been phenomenal. Anytime we enter an Alarm.com account into the system all the info from the panel migrates into Stages and all we have to do is put in the call list and password, and we’re all set,” said Russell about the AvantGuard’s integration with Alarm.com. “It makes life a lot easier.”
AvantGuard’s central station redundancy provides peace of mind for Mark Russell and the team at Southern Alarm. Daniels Monitoring Services was a single central station with only a handful of operators. If any issues occurred with staffing or their phone lines, customers would be left without service. Even updating their phone systems could cause periodic lapses in service for Southern Alarm customers. “There was always this fear of ‘what happens’ if something happened to the building, like a fire, or something else. There was no redundancy, and we just didn’t know what would happen in a situation like that.”
That uncertainty was a constant burden weighing on the minds of the team at Southern Alarm. Since the transition to AvantGuard, that uncertainty has been lifted. AG has eight redundant central stations located across the United States and Canada with fully staffed operating centers that exceed industry standards of excellence. AvantGuard was named ‘Monitoring Center of the Year’ by TMA (The Monitoring Association) and is one of the fastest growing, most trusted monitoring centers in the industry.
Aside from the redundancy and innovative tools, Mark Russell has been especially pleased with the service and care that AvantGuard has provided. Southern Alarm technicians that used Android phones were having issues with the AG app. When the issue was discovered, it was quickly resolved. “Our technicians using Android phones were getting a bad script read. After we called AG, it got fixed quickly, within a day. They really do listen to their dealers.”
When asked about Southern Alarm’s overall experience with the transition from Daniels to AvantGuard Monitoring Services, Russell commented, “If we were to do it all over again, we would have come to AG anyway, I’m sure of it.”
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AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, LLC. | P.O. Box 15022 | Ogden, UT 84415 | Office: (877) 206-9141 | Fax: (801) 781-6133