Our security consultant advised us on ways to find a reliable, professional security system installer. Here they are.
Finding the “right alarm guy” can indeed seem like a challenge. First, I hope that readers can recognize that this is not the same thing as getting a “salesperson trained in the art of closing a deal” (who probably has no idea of how to hang an alarm keypad on the wall) into your home so that he/she can sell you their “package of the month”. If you don’t feel that you, the client, or your home are being looked at and treated in a personal and individual manner, or you start to hear what you believe to be the same “sales pitch” thrown at every “prospect”, you probably are not dealing with the right company.
I believe that there’s value in getting an experienced installer out to your home for your evaluation, consultation and estimate, which isn’t always easy to do with larger firms. My reasoning is that there’s less chance of communication error between teams; the same guy who examined your home is also doing the install. I also hate that many competent installers are on the receiving end of hearing complaints from their customers of, “But the sales guy promised me that you would do this.” You’re better off dealing with the same person from start to finish, or, being referred to a company that has a solid reputation of good communication and follow-up between teams to ensure client satisfaction.
Have you checked the Yellow Pages for a general contractor or home renovator recently? According to those ads, they’re all experts. Seriously, how does Mike Holmes keeps managing week after week to find all of the lousy, dangerous “professional construction work” that he has to tear down and do over for his tv show on HGTV? You can’t believe ads; they have to be verified and documented somehow, otherwise everyone who posts an ad is an instant “expert”.
You will have to seek out the right individual (or company) through personal references or from the “feeling” that you get (backed up with the knowledge you’ve researched) once you have several different alarm technicians into your home and then size them all up against one another. You should be able to determine who has your best interests at heart, who immediately values you as a long-term client, who appears to be knowledgeable and competent to do the job right, versus who is trying to pressure you into signing.
Don’t listen to something one alarm company has told you which sounds interesting and then try to get the second alarm company to do it for you “cheaper”; if the second guys haven’t mentioned it, they might have completely over-looked it in the first place (red flag) or they might not have the expertise or experience to do it for you at all. I find it amazing what some companies will promise (which they know nothing about) to try to “close the deal quickly”. Honesty can be refreshing, as in, “I haven’t installed that product before but my suppliers have it and I can look into getting it for you, if you’d like.” You’re probably best off negotiating a better deal with the first company who proposed the additional work / feature, etc.
Also, in fairness to alarm companies who are doing their best to try to properly serve you: As a client, please compare apples with apples, not price. Our security consultant cites an example where he lost one sale to someone who eventually told him that he was quoted $50.00 less by one of his competitors. Rather than call him back to ask him to match their price, he went with the competitors because their fast-talking salesman pressured the client to close the deal that very night (another red flag).
It turned out that he ended up buying an inferior 8-zone alarm panel compared to the 16-zone model that our consultant proposed. Now he has 14 detection devices crammed onto 8-zones with no room for future expansion, and confusion as to which of the two devices on the same alarm panel zone created the false alarm. But hey, he saved himself 50 bucks!
An important part of the decision process is to choose the right alarm company since you’ll be doing business with them for many years to come. Finally, if you do have several alarm companies out to your residence to provide you with an estimate, here’s an additional suggestion for you to consider: once you’ve made your decision on which company to award your contract to, please e-mail back a brief note to each of the “non-winning” sales people who came to your home. Your note should indicate that you’re grateful for their time but that you’ve decided to go with another firm. No other information or explanation is necessary in your e-mail and you don’t have to volunteer which alarm company that you’ve decided to do business with. An e-mail is a non-confrontational way of informing a rep that they’ve lost a sale. This small courtesy on your part will save reps the time and effort of re-contacting you and they can now move on to another dossier.
Good luck with your search and please comment below with your experiences with alarm system installers.