Alarm Dealer's Expansion to Surveillance

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 22, 2011

We examine the challenges faced by a medium sized alarm company that exapnded their core alarm business by offering video surveillance.  This can be a difficult situation as it involves new technology, new skills and potentially new suppliers. While this company has found a solution working with an online value added reseller, important tradeoffs and downsides exist.

The company has been a Honeywell alarm dealer for more than 20 years. They offer their customers an in-house monitoring solution and do not sell their accounts.  Security expertise and support are the core value propositions they seek to offer to their customers - some of whom they have serviced for more than decades.

While the company had installed surveillance systems occasionally (almost always at the request of an existing alarm customer) the owner had never focused on growing this segment of his business in the same manner he attempted to grow his core alarm operation.   Surveillance was an 'add-on'.  He wanted to change that focus by enhancing his surveillance offerings so that both segments could feed off of each other.

He has very low employee turnover, so most of his techs and service employees have the 'expert' confidence level with alarms that only comes with experience.  However, the owner came to realize that his people just did not have this same confidence level when it came to the networking aspect of surveillance systems.  If he was going to go ahead with his plan to offer (and market) surveillance products, he would first have to find a way to overcome his employees lack of applicable knowledge.

Since he was already a Honeywell alarm dealer, his natural choice was to use their surveillance products.  He got his equipment at the same supply house he already used for his alarms, but soon found that training his employees in networking skills was his biggest challenge.   His crews had little difficulty in learning the operational aspects of the surveillance equipment (including integrating alarms), but it turned out that the real hurdle was all the different network configurations used by his customers (60/40 residential, small commercial) and the fact that his equipment supplier did not offer networking support.

Faced with this dilemma, while receiving increasing requests for surveillance, he saw no easy solution.  His techs were the best at what they knew, but the needed skill sets for networking were simply outside the scope of their aptitude.  Without a certain comfort level, his techs could never have that 'confidence' he knew that his customers expected.  Further, he felt that bringing in a new employee with networking skills to complement his team might be more disruptive than positive.  The average length of employment for his techs was more than 5 years, they all worked well together, and the owner was hesitant to introduce an 'outsider' into this well-ordered machine.

To compensate, he found a small on-line surveillance equipment provider who offered networking support. His specific needs were network-related (he could already get his branded hardware fairly easily), but this supplier only offered networking support for the equipment they sold. The fact that this supplier re-sold a Korean brand he had never heard of was a cause for concern; after decades with one brand, he would now have to trust something new. He had to make sure this suppliers equipment would hold up in the field and that support was available when he and his techs needed it. The Korean brand was significantly less expensive, but even one or two service calls for defects could easily cost him more in the long run.

Eventually this on-line supplier gained trust by providing references and offering to work with his techs to train them in basic networking on the job. Using commonly available remote access tools (LogMeIn.com, TeamViewer.com, GoToAssist.com), the supplier can connect to his techs laptop at the job site and walk them through the network configuration required. With training (and repetition) the owner felt his team should be able to learn these required skills at little cost to his company. If all went well, his techs would receive the training they needed and his hardware costs would be at least 30-40% lower than using Honeywell, allowing the alarm company's margins to improve.

The alarm company is so far satisfied. However, this partnership does have risks.

Because he now has to order his surveillance equipment instead of being able to get what he needs the same day from his supply house, his customers with malfunctioning equipment will have to wait approximately three days for replacements unless he stocks at least a minimal amount of equipment himself for this purpose.  In addition, he no longer has the brand backing of his alarm equipment provider. As a long-time dealer under his current brand, this could have a negative effect on customer perception and possibly hurt his relationship with his current alarm brand.

The biggest challenge, however, is not having his entire customer support entity in-house.  By outsourcing a portion of his support, he risks being left stranded if his supplier ceases to do business.  As a preventative measure, this owner would be wise to mandate that his new supplier train his in-house techs on networking so if this does occur, his team will be better prepared to fill this void.

Lessons / Trends

This case highlights two growing trends in the industry:

  • Resellers/Distributors increasing services to improve the value of their offerings beyond box sales
  • Online support tools making it easier for support to be provided from anywhere (thereby adding value)
Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports on Networking

Ubiquiti Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 18, 2019
Ubiquiti has quietly grown into a $1+ billion annual revenue company, with offerings across wireless, wireline network and video surveillance (see...
2019 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 14, 2019
The new IP Networking Book 2019 is a 285 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security...
Spring 2019 IP Networking Course on Jan 10, 2019
You can register for the Spring 2019 IP Networking course here. This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance...
Last Chance - Security Sales Course 2019 on Jan 03, 2019
This is last chance to register for the IPVM sales course: This sales course is customized for the needs and challenges specific to...
Cable Strapping For IP Camera Networks on Jan 02, 2019
Many say using zip-ties is asking for problems. And BICSI prohibits them. But many video surveillance integrators use them regularly. What should...
Cybersecurity Insurance For Security Integrators on Nov 29, 2018
Most security industry professionals carry insurance to cover themselves in the event of a general loss. However, most are not carrying cyber...
Ubiquiti Protect Video Surveillance Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Ubiquiti has now been in the video surveillance market for 7 years (see our first coverage back in 2011). In that time, the company's revenue has...
Huawei To Be “Top Three Global Position” in Video Surveillance on Oct 29, 2018
Huawei - China’s biggest networking gear and smartphone maker - plans to become one of the top three global video surveillance manufacturers in...
IP Camera Installation Tool Shootout - Avigilon, Axis, Ideal, Hanwha, Triplett, Veracity on Oct 23, 2018
Setting up IP cameras has historically been challenging, with techs often precariously using a laptop on a ladder or lift. Some options for install...
IP Camera Cable Labeling Guide on Sep 14, 2018
Labeling cables can save a lot of money and headaches. While it is easy to overlook, taking time to label runs during installation significantly...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Casino Surveillance Pro Interview: James Lathrop on Feb 15, 2019
James Lathrop has been working in casinos for almost 25 years. During that time, he says he has held "just about every job you can do in the...
Hikvision 2018 Revenue Tops $7 Billion USD But Growth Slows To Low on Feb 15, 2019
Hikvision's annual revenue topped $7 billion for the first time in 2018, although growth slowed sharply. In this post, we analyze the latest...
Hanwha Smaller Multi Imager Tested (PNM-9000VQ) on Feb 14, 2019
Hanwha's first repositionable multi imager PNM-9081VQ tested well, but was huge, over 12" wide and weighing in at over 10 pounds. Now, they have...
ADT And 'The Defenders' Silent About Massive Complaints on Feb 14, 2019
ADT's largest dealer, "The Defenders" has been the subject of a massive number of complaints over many years and many forums, most recently a CBS...
Hikvision Chairman Praises United Front on Feb 14, 2019
Hikvision’s controlling shareholder held a meeting last month praising the United Front, a Communist Party organization known for its secretive...
Sales Turnover At Anyvision on Feb 13, 2019
Anyvision raised a $43 million Series A and according to their newest investor: what you need to do is push the gas pedal and build an...
Cisco Meraki Cloud VMS/Cameras Tested on Feb 13, 2019
Cisco Meraki says their cameras "bring Meraki magic to the enterprise video security world". According to Meraki, their magic is their management...
Uniview / UNV Favorability Results 2019 on Feb 12, 2019
Uniview / UNV, the self-proclaimed #3 China manufacturer, while starting late, has been working to make inroads internationally. In IPVM's 2019...
Nortek Mobile Access Reader BluePass Examined on Feb 12, 2019
Nortek's Linear access control division claims to make mobile credentials "more secure and easier to use than ever before" with their BluePass...
Solink Raises $12 Million - Company Profile on Feb 12, 2019
Most industry professionals have never heard of Solink, a company whose tagline is: It's time to revolutionize the way business uses...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact