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8.17.23 – SSI – Ron Davis

Mike Polizzi shares the secrets of success behind ABF Security, the company he’s run with his brother Joe for decades.

The Polizzi brothers probably could have done anything with their lives. They chose to go into the security business around 50 years ago.

Mike Polizzi became president of the company they formed and Joe became the operations specialist, and together they built one of the industry’s most successful firms, ABF Security in St. Louis, which now monitors 12,000+ systems.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve known the Polizzis for almost as long, and have watched them grow their small dream into the giant it is now. It didn’t happen by accident; they weren’t just lucky. They became superb at what they did, earning respect as a successful and highly profitable business.

At their invitation, I was there at the start when they were seeking guidance on how to grow their business. We’ve remained friends and grown older together. I can still remember going into a local Italian restaurant with Joe and Mike and having some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. We were young, quite full of ourselves, and looking to conquer the world.

While we may not have done the latter, we did pretty well and collectively made many contributions to the alarm industry — the Polizzi brothers on the dealer side, and Steve Rubin and I on the consulting side. After our assignment for ABF was over, we stayed pals who don’t see each other regularly but often enough to maintain the original solid relationship.

Behind the Scenes of ABF Security’s Success

Mike and Joe Polizzi’s company grew steadily and today boasts more than 90 employees, operates a state-of-the-art central station and has branched out into a more wide-ranging portfolio including home automation. When I called Mike, we talked for 45 minutes about anything and everything, but particularly the secrets (at least what he was willing to share) of ABF’s success.

After I asked him to share his thoughts, he hesitated for a few moments and then offered some insights.

The first idea Mike preached is simple; however, it’s vital to hammer home a daily basis (slightly edited): “Know your product! Be a walking encyclopedia of every product and service your company sells. Know it so well that you can identify every feature and be able to explain all the benefits each component provides to the end user.”

How important is this? Some of you may have heard the name Dorsie Mosher, who unfortunately passed away just a few months back. We were together in business, off and on, for almost all of our adult lives — mostly in the alarm business.

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Mosher was the product guy, another old friend, Steve Rubin, was the training guy, and I was the sales guy. When we initially learned about products we were going to market, Mosher kind of disappeared for three or four weeks. When we saw him next, he’d have compiled a book on all the information you could ever ask about these new products and services we were going to sell.

That was the first time I had been introduced to the magic capable of being produced by knowing your product so well that you could “literally write the book on it,” as they say. And the salespeople we hired and trained picked up on how much knowledge we seemed to display, and they embraced this key process as well.

The second rule of success Mike shared would seem easy to implement and apply. It was, simply: “Always be honest and sincere in all of your dealings with all of your customers.”

If you had a mistake in a bid, own up to it. If the supplier couldn’t provide what they should, tell the customer — no matter what it is. If you lie or misrepresent, chances are pretty good that customers will either suspect what you’re doing or figure it out at some point during the selling process. You lose the sale, and the business loses a customer.

Apologies if these “secrets” are too simplistic, but if you could have heard the steel in Mike’s voice sharing this with me, you wouldn’t hesitate to believe him and then apply them to your own business. What do you have to lose?