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7.24.20 – SSI

2020 “Best of the Best” winners address critical challenges brought upon the security industry by COVID-19 and how they are dealing with them.

Since I entered the industry 20+ years ago the leading challenge cited by installing security dealers, integrators and monitoring providers has almost universally been recruiting talent. That deficit only became even more glaring as the years wore on.

That was until 2020, a daunting year the likes of which none of us have ever seen. In just a few months, the coronavirus upheaval has radically shifted security companies’ priorities and operations. It’s no longer so much about bringing the right people onboard as it is safeguarding the well-being of those already in place. And the pandemic has brought a whole new meaning to protecting customers.

“We are running our business much differently today than only a couple months ago,” affirms Melissa Brinkman, CEO of Custom Alarm, an SSI Installer of the Year. “Prior to March 2020, one of our top challenges would have been staffing.”Related:12 Industry Leaders Tell How COVID-19 Has Forever Changed Security

Custom Alarm is among the companies spotlighted in this annual Best of the Best Issue. I asked these industry leaders to identify critical challenges and how they are dealing with them. COVID-19 dominates but other issues are also brought to light.

Bob Boland, COO, Custom Alarm: Safely operating our business and keeping our employees safe and healthy is being addressed through our Return to Work policy and putting safety protocols in place including PPE for all staff. We have a team that meets regularly to evaluate and assess what we need to do to keep us safe in these uncertain times. Another challenge is finding new sales opportunities given how we’re all living and working. We have a lot of customers and some markets that are dramatically affected.

How we can help them operate their business leveraging technology and safely meet with them, install and service their systems is important. A final challenge is access to products from our manufacturers. We are seeing some disruption starting to impact the ability to do our job. We are addressing this with specific manufacturers and evaluating other sources.

Pam Petrow, President & CEO, Vector Security: First is market expansion and diversification. We continually seek opportunities to find new pools of prospects who need our products and services either geographically, through acquisition, or by entering new markets. We are adjusting or creating product offerings and go-to-market strategies to reach these new audiences. Navigating the competitive landscape and changing consumer behaviors is next.

We want to engage with our customers on their terms. Having flexible products and solutions is critical while educating customers and prospective customers on the benefits we offer versus, say, a DIY offering. Lastly is preparing our workforce for tomorrow. Making sure our teams are armed with the latest information and training to effectively do their jobs is an ongoing need as technology changes rapidly and new products are introduced.

Dan Bresingham, EVP, ADT Commercial: The top challenge is the COVID-19 crisis, and how it’s impacted health, the economy and organizations across industries. Almost immediately, we assembled a team to ensure our organization did its due diligence in researching the most accurate and compliant solutions to bring to customers. It included experts in risk management, product assessment, legal counsel, marketing and sales to find top-tier systems for the post-pandemic environment. The effects of COVID-19 are going to reverberate for some time and ADT Commercial is rising to the occasion as an industry leader.Related:The New Normal for Security Monitoring, Support & Staffing

Neil Appel, VP Sales & Marketing, B Safe Security: COVID-19 has been addressed by being upfront and fair with our clients. In early March, we were one of the first security companies to write about the coronavirus, giving tips and advice on our website. This awareness allowed us to work with our community and engage with our clients. The DIY security sector is another challenge that B Safe handles by focusing on the human side of business and building a knowledgeable relationship with clients.

John Loud, President, LOUD Security Systems: Pushing our way through the current pandemic and adjusting to the “new normal” that comes with it. Another challenge is the large volume of cellular conversions. We found that leasing the cell units makes it a bit easier when it’s time to upgrade. We also begin communicating early and often with customers to make them aware of the need to upgrade. This helps mitigate the overload on our service schedule and technicians.

April Chastain, Director of Operations, Owen Security: Our operations team is striving to improve the on-boarding process for new customers, so as to ensure a seamless transition where the customer feels involved in the customization, installation and operation of their system. We are reviewing each installation and monitoring job costing. We are combating attrition rates by finding ways to “wow” customers. We have dedicated account managers to only a particular amount of accounts to ensure each customer receives a personalized experience. Leadership is also focused on scalability of our processes and procedures. We are identifying problematic areas, bridging gaps and determining what can be automated.

About the Author

SCOTT GOLDFINE, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int’l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.