301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

7.26.19 – SSI –

Alarm techs share why you should take a closer look at minding your P’s and Q’s — your productivity and quality of work.

As a technician: what makes you truly valuable to your boss? You’ve heard everyone in the business world refer to the bottom line. To your boss and/or owner, the bottom line is, “Am I making a profit?”

How are you helping to make your company profitable and what are you doing to earn your paycheck? Maybe you should be looking closer at minding your P’s and Q’s — your productivity and quality of work.

Your boss is constantly keeping an eye on both of these factors. Understand that these traits are not simply something you inherited; these are skills you must work on every day on the job.

In recent trade surveys, one of the biggest concerns by managers and owners was the number of callbacks from field work. Increased productivity with reduced quality of work will not help you in getting praise — or raises for that matter — from your boss.

Achieving this balance between improved productivity and maintaining high quality work is the ongoing challenge for anyone, regardless of the type of job.

Instead of me lecturing I thought it would be helpful to solicit some feedback from techs in the field. I asked, “What tips do you have for being a productive installer and service tech?” to members of the Facebook group Alarm Tech Memes. Let’s explore some of their valuable comments.

Joshua Pahl Sr.: “In service your meter is your best friend. Installation — safety, integrity in your work. Don’t take shortcuts or it will lead to more work.”

Justin Walter Soltysik: “Anytime you go back to your van to grab something, try to see if there is something you can take with you to put away.”

Graeme McKenzie: “Take responsibility for yourself to learn. Don’t wait for your employer to train you on things you can figure out by reading manuals, free online training courses, etc. Practice at home on secondhand gear. Learn your panels/NVRs/access control systems inside and out so you don’t have to learn in front of a client. Do your best on every job so that nobody has to go back to fix things later.”

Trey Alderman: “Have all your prints, labels, wire paths, penetrations, addresses, etc. figured out before you start. If you figure out all the unknown info upfront, it’s very helpful. I’m most successful when I build the job on paper before I start. Service is kind of its own beast, depends on what you’re working on. A lot of techs get overwhelmed by the amount of issues they see on jobs. It’s best to only focus on the issue the customer has called about and inform them of the other problems after resolving the primary issue.”

Greg Triplett: “Know what ‘normal’ should look like. When you’re troubleshooting a problem, knowing what a normal circuit/system looks like gives you something to work toward.”

Ron Gibson: “This was stated before, but your meter is your best friend! Never leave your truck without it! If your employer provides one, great; if not, buy one! It doesn’t have to be an expensive top of the line multimeter, as long as you know how to use it and understand the readings you get. I always carry a note-pad and an ink pen.”

Jeff Mitchell: “Installers: It’s all about minimizing walks to the van, don’t just think about your next step/task; grab stuff for the next five tasks. Service techs: Listen to customer when they try to describe the problem, and start at zero. Don’t overlook the simplest items.”

Many thanks to all the techs for their valuable feedback. This was a popular subject thread, so you may want to check out (and join the group if you haven’t already) more of the conversation online.

Tool Tip

Having organized tool pouches and bags ready to go for various types of installs and servicing can go a long way to improving your P’s and Q’s.

That is why I’ve selected the very popular tool organizer, the Veto Pro TP4B technician tool pouch from VetoProPac. Designed to last a long time, it features a leather trim panel, detachable rubber handle and a metal connection clip.

The TP4B offers 20 interior and exterior vertical tool pockets including two long shank side tool pockets.

About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration “Tech Talk” columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.