Whatever your situation as a locksmith, you probably are looking for ways to grow your business. But in order to grow your business and compete with the larger players, you need a plan. You need sales leads, you need to advertise and you need to obtain your materials at the best possible prices.
Tom Fowler presents a compelling dealer program. Onlinealarmquotes.com offers a service to locksmiths and security providers designed to help them achieve growth and success.
We reviewed his webpage then interviewed him to help us better understand him and his company. Following are Ledger’s questions and Fowler’s answers. We report and you decide!
Can you tell us about yourself and your company?
At the age of 14 I went to work at a Mom & Pop hardware store/locksmith in the Bronx named Cora Inc. The owner, Pat Cassieri, took me under his wing, and taught me not only about locksmithing, but also about business ethics, management and integrity.
I began my first alarm company thanks to men like Kyle Leavitt formerly of Ademco, who is now with TriEd, Tom Capadonna of ADI, and my current VP of Operations, Don Trask, who all helped me through the learning curves.
I’m a veteran of many “dealer programs” and as such have seen the ugly side of this business.
In 2008 I decided to put together a program that would help the smaller companies become more of a force. It’s a program that helps guys to prosper in an industry crowded with these seasonal, mass marketing, door knocking locusts that plague our communities and give the industry a black eye.
After three years of trial, error, and tweaking, we launched our program upon the industry in January 2011.
Please explain the difference between an affiliate member program and an authorized dealer program.
An authorized dealer is akin to subcontracting your company out whereas an affiliate member is an option that allows the business owner to retain complete control of their operations, promote their own identity, and have choices. Dealer programs TELL you what you can or cannot do. Dealer programs insist on promoting THEIR name. Dealer programs place liens on your business to guarantee your compliance with THEIR rules. Dealer programs grab kickbacks on just about everything you do.
We don’t! We work for our members. We dance to their tune. This is why so many companies fear dealer programs and why our members love us.
What are the benefits of membership?
We offer everything from discounts on equipment, monitoring, printing, etc. to qualified sales leads, technical support, sales support, web support, marketing support, as well as funding with multiples up to 41x the RMR, and leasing options. We can help make a one-man show become more competitive with these giant mass marketers that are destroying the security industry. We are constantly adding new benefits without increasing the cost of membership. For example we now offer funding, without chargeback, on renters. NOBODY else does that!
What is the cost of membership?
It’s based on population and category in the areas the member wishes to receive leads and marketing support, but our minimum membership fee is $500 annually. The only difference in benefits is in leads and marketing. Everything else remains the same regardless of the membership fee.
We also guarantee that the member will see a return of at least two times their investment within 12 months or the next year is free.
How does a locksmith or security professional apply?
They would complete a basic survey found on http://www.securitydealersupport.com. From there we contact them and initiate our due diligence process.
What draws prospective clients to your web site?
We have dozens of web sites generating leads. To answer your question, it is the organic (no frills) extensive content that the end users enjoy.
What is ‘charging back’?
It is a negative feature of most every dealer program available. You sell them a contract, yet they can send it back to you as far off as 15 months later and be refunded the money they paid you. It has a crippling affect on integrators.
For all of the big talk these dealer programs espouse, I ask this: How many authorized dealers have you met that aren’t living paycheck to paycheck? Today the dealer program gives you say $1000 for a contract and in a few months they take the $1000 back from you because they were incapable of satisfying their new customer.
When we buy a contract, we buy it. It’s our contract and collecting from the customer is our job. We don’t come back to you at a later date and take our money back. Our members never have to worry about being surprised by an unexpected debit from their account.
On your webpage (http://www.onlinealarmquotes.com), there are several categories (residential, CCTV, medical emergency, etc). Can a dealer be listed in more than one category?
Absolutely. We prefer full system integrators.
Are you a central station?
No we are not. We contract with a major central station that offers our members substantial discounts on their rates and that we use to monitor any account we purchase.
Who cannot become a member?
Unlicensed, inexperienced, and/or uninsured companies. Companies with shady and unethical business practices, an unsatisfactory reputation with their customer base, companies that have no business in this industry. We weed them out during the approval process. Again, we prefer the small guy that is a full system integrator, but we will entertain all companies that are excellent at what they do.
Dealer programs claim they vet their prospective dealers and police their dealers, but now if that were true we wouldn’t see or hear countless complaints from end users and our industry wouldn’t be viewed as on par with the timeshare industry when it comes to ethics.
We want the hard working, ethical business people that are looked upon as insignificant members of this industry. Our program will help elevate them above the fray and bring them into prominence once again.
Do you offer monitoring to end-users?
No we don’t. We don’t compete with our members. Our members offer monitoring to end-users.
Are you in all 50 states? Are you in other countries?
We are in all 50 states and we are looking at expanding globally.
Do you offer contract monitoring through your dealers?
Our members have the opportunity take advantage of our discounted rates for contract monitoring.
What types of leasing do you offer?
TF: We have partnerships with major leasing companies and they offer our members competitive factors not generally available to the security industry.
What discounts do you offer for equipment? Does the dealer buy direct or order from you?
Discounts vary by manufacturer and our pricing structure allows the basic member and opportunity to recoup their membership fee in as little as one month. Members buy their equipment from the major distributors with whom we have agreements.
How does the lease plan work? If a commercial client wishes to lease $2,000 of security equipment for three years, what do the numbers look like?
The monthly payment is based on the credit worthiness of the customer but our members are able to present that customer with lower factors, dollar buyouts, and no doc fees.
The leasing programs are not exclusive for burglar alarms. They are available for fire, CCTV, access control, phone systems, home theater, intercom systems, sounds systems, etc.
In my experience I can provide a consumer with a $20,000 lease where their payments will total out with a savings of about $300 or more as opposed to them taking a lease from a non-member.
If residential client wants a “free alarm,” what is the template?
The member will have the customer sign our standard contract, which only mentions the member’s name and contact information. Then they will access our web portal and run credit on the consumer. Upon approval, which can take as little as two minutes, the member will then install the system for the client.
After installation is complete we do a quality care call to verify the system was installed and there are no issues. Once completed, the member will submit to us the paperwork and the day after we receive the contracts the member will be funded.
This is also the same process for commercial accounts.
By the way all yard signs and window stickers should have the name of the member’s company on them. Dealer programs insist on promoting THEIR name rather than the dealer’s name.
If a locksmith sells a ‘free’ alarm and get the client to sign up for $40 a month, let’s say for a 5 year commitment, how is the monitoring paid for? Is there an inherent service contract? If so, who provides service and how much does the dealer get reimbursed for service calls?
First of all, there is no such thing as a free alarm. That is a gimmick term used by fast buck artists. What our members can offer is a system for zero down. Anyone caught promoting a “free alarm” will be removed from our program immediately.
We pay the central monitoring station. It’s now our contract. We do not offer service contracts. Our members retain all service and referrals on any accounts they sell us.
We are buying the contract for the future monitoring revenue. We are not taking control of a member’s business.
Please clarify: are you interested in established locksmiths looking to get into electronic security; established electronic security guys looking to diversify into locksmithing, individuals looking to begin a career in security, or companies already in the business looking to pump up their numbers?
We want all of the above, providing they pass our due diligence process. We want those with a true interest in offering quality life safety services. We don’t want those who just see this industry as the opportunity to make a quick buck.
While I can’t say we would deny a start-up, I can say we would heavily scrutinize them. Just having a license, good credit and liability insurance isn’t enough to get into our program. If you run a clean business and have satisfied customers, we want to talk to you.
How will your program change as you gain more members?
We’re always looking to improve so we implore our members to contact us about anything that they believe will help their growth. As our member base grows, so does our buying power. As our buying power grows, it enables us to approach more suppliers. How does this benefit the supplier? Well keep in mind we are bringing a whole new level to the industry by including renters and low credit score customers so we are adding to the bottom line profits if the suppliers rather than cutting into their slice of the pie.
For more information: OnlineAlarmQuotes, 165 Bronx River Road, Suite 1200, Yonkers, NY 10704. Telephone: 917-416-9615. Web sites: http://www.securitydealersupport.com or http://www.onlinealarmquotes.com.