UK Installer CCTV Aware - Flat Pricing, No Salespeople

By Dan Gelinas, Published Apr 10, 2019, 09:25am EDT

This is a different kind of company.

They do flat pricing, they do not have any salespeople and 50% of their sales are sold and booked online.

How does CCTV Aware do it?

In this profile, based on our research and interview with the company's Director, Ahmet Deveci [link no longer available], we look at the following topics:

  • Why they offer flat pricing
  • How they handle differences in install with flat pricing
  • Why they do not have any salespeople
  • How they use social media and the Internet
  • How they're using giveaways to increase mindshare
  • Why they use small service vehicles
  • What their service area is
  • How they handle requests for intrusion detection
  • Why they are exclusive with Hikvision
  • How 4K is working for them
  • How they plan to handle Hikvision's/Pyronix's converged solution
  • Why they do not offer wireless cameras
  • How they feel about Qvis and Axis Companion
  • Why they chose to stick with residential
  • What is their growth strategy

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Comments (44)

No disrespect to Mr. Devici, but limiting your tech's to one install a day AND using flat pricing seems to be conflicting to me. Is he charging his clients for a whole days worth of labor? Is he under-paying his staff? Is this style of business sustainable? If you only pay your tech for the hours worked, and they are done by lunch, what do they do afterwards? Do you still pay them for a full day? Do they moonlight?

While I like outside the box thinking, you have to wonder why someone hasn't used these business tactics before at scale. 

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Hi Jon, thanks for your comment and interest in this topic.

The business has been sustainable for the last 5 years, so the model seems to be working well for us and it's showing no sign of slowing down in terms of growth.

Installers would be paid a monthly wage, based on the average 40 hours work week here in the UK so the customer pays no more or less, if the installer happens to finish slightly earlier that day. The bonus being, they get to go home early, which I promote fully. A happy workforce, is a loyal workforce. I'm not one for cracking the whip and forcing installers to work a full 8 hour day.

I hope that answers your questions.

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I appreciate the response and additional info. I guess I’m still unsure about how this works. I applaud your happy employee mindset, but I have to assume one of a few things to accomplish this:

1) Your customers are over-paying to afford this luxury 

2) You are personally taking the hit financially to allow your workers paid time off

3) The company and its future health are leveraged to afford this pattern

I hope that my questions aren’t being perceived as hostile, as I think this style of business is commendable, and like I said before, I like outside the box thinking. I guess my reason for the questions is due to the fact that I like the idea and wonder how it will work long term. It certainly streamlines a lot of the process. The sales part of the puzzle would seem to scale well, as long as the pricing is fair to all.

One other concern I have is employees rushing a job to get home in time for (insert personal activity). It would be tempting to hurry everyday just so you can work half days, knowing you are getting a full day’s pay either way. As a trash collector, this premise works well, because picking up trash isn’t easy to mess up. But as a technician, skipping steps or rushing could lead to a poor install.

I do like the idea of doing the install all in one day. As a client, that would be a nice thing. I’d only have to take off work one day, weather permitting. How far out do you schedule installs? Is weather known in advance? How do you handle adverse weather that interferes? Do you have enough spare days to quickly slot a client back in the schedule? 

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Jon,

Domestic installs take time, you can't rush it if you tried.

You could argue that the installer will rush to finish early to get home, just as much that they would rush the install to go onto the next install, and the next and so on..... if we did more than one installation a day.

To answer your questions in numeric order, please see below :

1) Your customers are over-paying to afford this luxury

What luxury? The installers, including myself work very hard to deliver an installation and a service that the customer is happy with. I'd call that a service, not a luxury. Of which, our customers leave us great reviews.

2) You are personally taking the hit financially to allow your workers paid time off

Happy workforce, happy customers. Think of the long term, not short term. If you burn your installers into the ground, they will take time off sick. In the UK, sick pay is provided under law - so I'd rather take a hit and have happy installers, then take a hit and have no installers.

But this is working on the assumption of taking a financial hit. It's all relative and works on a law of averages, just like the business model itself.

3) The company and its future health are leveraged to afford this pattern

We've seen growth of 20-30% each year since incorporation, so I would disagree.

As for work schedule, at the moment we are looking to recruit further installers to reduce the waiting times for installations. We are currently booked 4-6 in advanced, with full deposits paid. This has been the case since the company started so it's not just a 'bust period'.

We have had to reschedule 2 installations in the last 5 years. So unless there is an obvious risk to the installer or home owner, we do not cancel installations due to bad weather.

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Great discussion and I want to thank you for your responses. 

1) The luxury I was speaking of was having your employees taking paid time off. I didn’t mean to imply your clients treat your service as a luxury. I apologize for the confusion there.

2) Very good, measured response here, and I agree that a happy workforce usually leads to happy clients as well. That all makes sense. I’m not well versed with your labor laws, so maybe that’s my disconnect here. Keeping good employees is a hard thing to do anywhere, so it’s nice to see you not only acknowledge that, but also meet that head on. I have no doubt your employees value this too. 

3) Growth to me isn’t indicative of much other than more production. It doesn’t mean more profitability or guaranteed sustainability. It can, of course, be just that, but that measurement alone isn’t telling the whole story. What is does show is that you are most likely moving in the right direction.

About the weather, I had assumed that my preconceived notion of British weather would have caused more install delays than you have reported. Here in northern Ohio, USA, we have many more than two bad weather days a year. This winter alone we had at least 10 days of bad enough weather that outside work was impossible. This spring we will get rained out at least 15 days. Summer and fall are usually the best for outside installs. I would guess that we have around 30 days a year that preclude us from working outside. 

My point here is that if you only allot one day for installs, and have a full schedule, there isn’t much room for delays, weather or otherwise.  Our projects typically aren’t possible to complete in a single day without a large team of installers. Even then, I wouldn’t want to attempt to coordinate large installs under the pressure of a single day.  

Thanks for the discussion. I hope your plan works for you and hope to hear back from you in the future. 

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Thanks for your continued interest and feedback.

It's probably handy to note that our fixed price policy is only actually valid up to 8 cameras. Anything beyond that, is a bespoke pricing structure due to the additional days, equipment etc. (see the link in the original article)

But for the main, we are talking about a fixed price, domestic installation of no more than 8 cameras in a single day. Again working on the law of averages, the most popular systems are between 3-5 cameras for domestic installations.

We've had, 16, 20 or even 32 camera commercial installations that were scheduled for 4 days, and so on.

Thanks again.

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Hi Ahmet 

I understand your model and I can understand how it works on the law of averages my one question is - has anyone said that they want someone to come out and see a property before they buy and if so how do you handle that. Further have you considered charging a flat rate for a quote in these situations.  

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Hi Mark,

I had previously considered a 'fee for quote' system, but decided against it.

If someone insists they would like quote, they are informed clearly of what the costs are likely to be, based on previous experience. I find that usually helps the customer establish if we are the right company for them, if they are looking on the basis of 'cost' alone.

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Thanks Dan for doing this interview and thanks Ahmet for giving us a look behind the website of how you run your business, as a fellow inhabitant albeit at the opposite end of the Island it was interesting to see how you go about your business. 

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You're welcome Simon, thanks for taking the time to read.

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Is this a joke? Surprising that this is something IPVM would spend time on.

This isn’t much of a company, micro sales revenue working from a spare bedroom. It’s a lifestyle business at best.

The website booking integration sounds neat but nothing revolutionary.

Good luck with everything but I’d advise you consider recurring revenue if you want something that is sustainable during growth.

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Thanks for your interest in this article. I can assure you, this is no joke. Working tirelessly from an idea that was ZERO to what it is now is certainly no joke.

What once started off as just an idea in a spare bedroom, is now an established company that employs four members of staff on a full time basis, has an office and is still growing. We pay annual taxes to corporation and VAT. That's no joke.

We already have reoccurring revenue from our annual service plans, of which are also fixed in price. With a customer base of 900+ strong, it doesn't take a genius to work out that this is no lifestyle business but one that is here to stay and will continue to grow. Follow our social media streams and what how it unfolds :)

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I should probably clarify, I do not mean to suggest your business is a joke, more so that IPVM chose to report on it. I am not intending to offend with my direct approach.

Your accounts this year show around a 26k profit, after many years of trading, last year is was a few hundred pounds.

Your Office seems to be a house.

Your employees seem to be family members.

I am not knocking you for having a go, but this is a lifestyle business offering nothing new, just a nice website.

Throwing in fixed price systems for little more than wages has been done for years.

How many of your ‘900’ customers are on a recurring contract and how much (%) does that represent of your annual turnover?

 

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Thank you for your continued interest in this thread and my business.

If you'd like some more information to complete the extensive research you seem to have done, feel free to email me directly.

I'm sure you can find the email amongst your findings already, I would reach out to you myself, but you have opted to stay anonymous in your comments, not surprising.

Enjoy the rest of your day 😉 

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It’s unfortunate that you seem to be offended.

I can assure you I have no axe to grind, I had never heard of your company prior to this article.

Once I looked you up I was very surprised that IPVM had chosen such a small insignificant company to focus such a rare installer focused article, it seemed out of place.

I always do my due diligence before commenting on any subject. You should expect people to share their opinions in this arena, after all that is the point of the article I assume?

Get a thicker skin and respond to my valid points, maybe I’ll learn something. I have no problem with the taste of humble pie if I got it wrong.

I don’t share my name on IPVM in any comments for a number of commercially sensitive reasons, I want to be free to interact without censorship of my opinion. 

 

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You seem to have a tendency to make assumptions, so let me clear a few of those up.

1) I am not offended.
2) The office is not a house.
3) 3 of the 4 employees are family members, the 5th employee we are training is also a non family member.

Even family members are receiving an annual wage, so I'm not sure what difference that makes if they are family or not?

It would seem that you do not do enough due diligence before commenting based on 2) + 3).

My skin is thick enough, you're not the first person to show negative hostility towards my business, the list is actually quite long.

It's a shame that you feel your name would cause censorship of your opinion, after all - this is a free world isn't it?

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The staff being family members usually means they may/may not be full time and may or may not be on a realistic salary. I’m not knocking it, just another point that could impact on the viability of this as a business model.

So your office is not with residential grounds? Regardless of it being a converted garage, summerhouse, extension or whatever). Sorry if I got that wrong.

I think your dodging the main points I raised, that being this wouldn’t be considered a viable model by most, based on the low profit after quite a few years in business and has little recurring revenue.

I’d be interested to read some solid business based theory and/or fact that proves your point. Otherwise it just appears you’re doing a nice job of installing basic CCTV kits for wages, nothing at all wrong with that, but it is what it is.

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The staff being family members usually means they may/may not be full time and may or may not be on a realistic salary.

Again, you're making assumptions.

I think your dodging the main points I raised, that being this wouldn’t be considered a viable model by most, based on the low profit after quite a few years in business and has little recurring revenue.

So a business making profit is not viable? Or am I missing something here? Or are suggesting that a business must make more profit to be viable?

Are we suggesting that Elon Musk who is currently making NO profit on Tesla is also not a viable business model?

Otherwise it just appears you’re doing a nice job of installing basic CCTV kits for wages, nothing at all wrong with that, but it is what it is.

So after last years trading and all staff being paid a FULL time wage, the various sponsors we do, and huge marketing - the company still had £26K in CASH in the bank...... and you think this is just installing basic CCTV for a wage? I think you may have a misunderstanding of what a business is.

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Come on lets not get carried away....................The Tesla of residential CCTV.........

The difference is they are a public company trading shares with a complete different value proposition and upside. Compare that to flogging Hik kits for a few hundred pounds more than cost and it's not really something that can be discussed at any length.

26k in the bank doesn't mean much, but I agree much better than a loss. Perhaps like many you take a low salary and issue a dividend to shareholders, again nothing wrong with this.

If you had 5 full time staff on industry standard salaries it would probably be close to your turnover, you filed Micro accounts last year so that provides a reasonable indication of your size.

My whole point is not that your business is not worthwhile, but that I haven't seen anything that shows this isn't a lifestyle business, which there is nothing wrong with! However to claim it's anything else with no facts is far fetched.

I have friend that own a lifestyle business, they love it and make a good living at the same time, but they are clear on the model.

I understand business very well, I won't muddy the water with the details but safe to say I'm on solid ground.

I genuinely wish you well, I feel one day you will see where I was coming from.

 

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I do not mean to suggest your business is a joke, more so that IPVM chose to report on it

We chose to report on it because (1) it is an uncommon approach (flat pricing / no salespeople) and (2) Ahmet is vocal / prominent on LinkedIn video surveillance exchange.

The fact that his business is not bigger financially is an important point as it does call into question how much this approach can scale. Maybe Ahmet just is not aggressive enough focused on scaling up or maybe this model inherently limits growth compared to the more conventional cold calling one.  

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I don’t think fixed price and no sales people is new to the UK market, it’s been done for 20+ years.

In the past it tended to be intruder alarms advertised in the local news papers as fixed cost systems including installation. No maintenance or monitoring.

I pointed out some basic facts and business norms that seem to have touched a nerve on his part. Odd as it’s all public record and easy enough to respond to directly.

That is unless my point stands and it’s just another lifestyle business.

I wish anyone luck that that starts a business, just keep it real is all I ask.

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FYI a friend of mine in the States said you call this type of installer a ‘Trunk Slammer’?

No qualification (excluding free manufacturers courses) or industry specific accreditation etc.

I’m not sure if it’s entirely comparable but you get the idea.

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FYI a friend of mine in the States said you call this type of installer a ‘Trunk Slammer’?

No, this would not be considered a trunkslammer in the US. They have a professionally designed website with an online store. Trunkslammers generally have no websites and often not even a real email address.

They have their own branded service vehicles. Trunkslammers, in a literal sense, operate out of their personal car's trunks.

In the US, I have never seen an integrator/installer sell video surveillance online with flat pricing. It's definitely atypical for the US.

If there are other installers that you think have atypical models, let us know and we will consider covering them.

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Trunk slammer was clearly lost in translation, as that’s not what I would consider this company. The reviews detailed in this article make that much clear.

I took it to mean someone offering a service not from that industry and not independently  qualified or accredited. Jumping on the bandwagon so to speak.

I’d be more interested to focus on the model as I have no reason to think the systems supplied don’t meet their customers requirements. Particularly at some of the low price points, what would anyone really be expecting for their money?

 

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not independently qualified or accredited

In the US, there are no generally recognized accreditations for the industry. For the UK, are you alluding to NSI or?

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There are no required accreditations in the UK - so I'm not sure what this commenter is getting at.

The NSI and SSAIB are both independent and non compulsory bodies. Both of which are not even required for the domestic market, which is who we serve.

Your point?

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Your reply makes my point.

Your first line of defense is they are not compulsory, I never suggested they were. However why would you not gain industry specific external independent accreditation if you could......?

My point being there is no barrier to market for anyone to make the claims you currently make.

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Yes, either of the UKAS bodies.

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Cool business model. I would suggest offering alarm services though instead of outsourcing it. There are many wireless alarm systems that would fit well into your business model and they are much much easier and faster to install than a CCTV system. Also, would increase your RMR.

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Hi Sean, thanks for your comment. With the increase in the range of intruder and detection systems provided by Hikvision, since the acquisition of Pyronix - this is an area I am constantly reviewing.

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Im a Hikvision distributor but the Pyronix do not appealing at all to me.

I would recommend looking at a good, easy to install wireless system like 2GIG, Qolsys, or DSC.

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I would be interested to see the quality of the actual installation itself as 8 cameras in 1 day seems an incredibly short time frame for 1 man..

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We use a two person team for larger installations, although the quantity of cameras do not hinder the quality of installation.

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Thanks for the reply Ahmet.  I'd be interested to know how you're running cables indoors..  

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Cable runs indoors are almost always non existent, in that they either enter the external wall and travel no more than 3-4ft before entering the NVR OR they travel up to the loft and hide out of the way.

People have this vision that there will be miles of cabling inside the property, when in reality - this is almost never happens.

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So the cabling is almost exclusively being done externally?  If that's the case then I get how you're doing it so quickly.

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Absolutely, if we were to be pulling up floorboards, carpets, chasing etc.... this would take much longer. We can do this, but this would have to be arranged prior. Hope that helps.

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Thanks Ahmet and thanks IPVM for this spotlight on the smaller scale successful business.  I abhor arrogance and certainly catch a scent of it in comments above.  This is a global site as far as I can tell and let me tell you - markets differ. I've just returned from a UK holiday and although many tech related things were immediately familiar some were not. 900 + happy customers is a testament unto itself - well done.

My company turns 20 in November and this is only attributable to the careful and constant analysis of our market and customer base.  Could we have grown more rapidly and earned ourselves more money?  Probably but the risk of crashing and burning is a constant and fortunately for us those flames have only ever been viewable in the rear-view mirror.

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Thank you for your interested and feedback on the post David!

Hope you had a good time in the UK.

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 Hi Ahmet,

With all of our installs we allow for a return at night to ensure all cameras are either switching to IR or the light levels sustain colour. Also to just ensure there is no peripheral lighting affecting the images or reflections from the IR.

Within your costs, how do you allow for this, bearing in mind the long daylight hours within the summer months?

As part of our business model we allow for the client to benefit from the full manufacturer warranty, as long as they stay under maintenance with us. Do yo also pass on the full Hik warranty, or do you just provide 12m and increase your margin by charging for parts that are still under warranty for the additional years?

You do have a niche, but you are restricting yourself by not going for SSAIB or NSI. You could potential miss out on lower-mid range commercial work and a competitor could quite easily draw attention to that fact that you are not NSI/SSAIB accredited when comparing like for like.

These aren't digs - just observations in understanding the business model. There is a fine line when growing a business and it looks like you may have hit the sweet spot, but also your ceiling?

I note your comments on QVIS/Adata also, and can confirm this isn't the first time I've heard this about them, so a common theme.

I think if I were you, I'd probably stick to what you're doing, as the next step is a whole new ball game in terms of sales, compliance, accreditation, HR and support. I see no value in going to intruder as its always been a grudge purchase with worthless margin unless you are looking to sell off monitored connections to ADT for your nest egg.

 

 

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Hi,

Thanks for your interest in the business. I've tried to answer your questions below as best as possible.

We do not return physically to check night time levels, but instead do this remotely with the customer and inform them as such so they can provide a share link for the cameras for us to monitor. I can't say we've ever had the need to return, as with the main bulk of our installs we use Turret cameras which pretty much minimises and IR bounceback, as with the domes.

We have been offering the full three year warranty on all Hikvision products since 2017 (https://www.cctvaware.com/blog/3-year-warranty-hikvision-digital-ip-cctv-systems) - again, to be fair - the products are so reliable these days, the warranty returns process is really low.

I do not believe we are restricting due to the lack of SSAIB / NSI. My vision has always been to be the household name in domestic installations, so potentially missing out on lower-mid range commercial isn't a concern I have at this stage.

In terms of growing, we have a constant stream of work with about a 4-6 week booking schedule. By increasing work rate (installers) this will bring that period down, but also allow for more installs to be booked in. It's something I'm toying with at the moment.

Cheers,

Ahmet.

 

 

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instead do this remotely

Ahmet, do you use HikConnect or how do you enable remote access? If HikConnect, how has your experience been? Thanks.

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Mainly Hik-Connect. The customer manges a 'shared' stream of the cameras for 24 hours, then removes again afterwards when required.

It's not as great as the conventional DDNS used to be with iVMS in terms of remote support, but it does the job. If adjustments are then required, we can remote onto the customers computer and make changes accordingly.

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Interesting anecdote, people on LinkedIn loved it:

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