Over the last 22 years that I have been involved in the security alarm industry, I have seen quite an evolution. Changes have not only taken place in what type of equipment is available, but also in how the consumer buys and use's the equipment.
When I first started in the business, alarms where used mostly for commercial applications. Businesses had to have them to watch over their product while they were closed. Insurance companies made sure their clients had one installed.
Residential alarm systems were owned mostly by well to do professionals who could afford such a luxury. As the years progressed people in or near big cities were getting burglarized and wanted to send future burglars to the neighbor's house by installing a system in their home.
In the nineties large alarm companies speculated that the potential of the residential market was not being realized. Homeowners were not willing to layout thousands of dollars to protect their color televisions and stereos because that would be like buying them again anyway. Homeowners would rather gamble on the hope that they would not be victimized anytime soon.
As crime increased almost daily and alarm companies made purchasing a system affordable, the residential market grew considerably. Many more homeowners were realizing the peace of mind they could have by protecting their things while they were out. Many that didn't purchase a system were getting burglarized and would then of course pay for a high cost system without hesitation, so that they could prevent the inevitable return.
What happened next in my opinion is the biggest change the industry has undergone. As more homes were being burglarized and changes in lifestyles allowed people to come home at different hours of the day, the terrifying prospect of walking in on a burglary in progress became all too possible. Burglars also became so desperate and brazen that they started to invade homes while they were occupied. These types of burglars started to commit crimes of a much worse nature against the homeowners that confronted them. In reaction, alarm consultants began to change their focus: alarm systems should be designed and utilized to protect people first and property second.
These days most anyone can afford an alarm system. Arm yourself with the knowledge of how to get the best deal and most protection for your money. There should be no reason that you allow yourself to become a statistic if you don't want to be one. The hardest thing you may have to overcome is the feeling that you live in a safe neighborhood. What does a safe neighborhood look like? Is it possible you may be confusing a nice neighborhood with a safe one?
Do you need a system? - Very few people that I have met in my many years of security consulting knew before they were burglarized that they needed a system. For those that did have the unfortunate experience of being victimized, I would actually have to talk them out of buying more than they needed. I took great pride in my ability to calm down the customers enough to learn how to properly protect their family and home from future invasion. This approach always made my clients very appreciative of my services and would generally result in a long term- user of our monitoring service and in many referrals.
For those that had not yet been burglarized, I found that the consultations started with their feeling that security was just a luxury they were considering as a tool to protect their things. I then would show them exactly what was going on in their neighborhoods in the way of burglaries and the always-unexpected number of sexual predators. This would always surprise the homeowners, unless they already knew that they had moved into an area that was not so safe.
Most people believe that the lovely neighborhood they chose to live in is safe. Think about it. If a burglar is going to break into a house, don't they want to steal the most valuables they can on each invasion? Doesn't the perpetrator of more violent crimes want to prey on an unsuspecting victim? Please don't be so naive as to confuse your nice neighborhood with a safe one. Many people in your neighborhood fall into a false sense of security and don't even lock the front door while they are home during the day. How easy is that for someone to enter through?
After showing a potential client how a home security system would protect their family and themselves from several different types of crimes as well as assisting them in emergency situations, the necessity of having a system would become obvious to them.
If you can afford to install a security system before something happens to you or your loved ones, or before you have to find out what it's like for some creep to rifle through your personal belongings, do it now! You will get much more out of your system if it prevents these crimes because you are likely to spend whatever you have to after the fact.
Does a free security system really exist? - "YES" there are such things as a free security system on the market these days and they can even be of the highest quality if you know what to ask for. The largest security firms own their own monitoring stations and are looking for the monitoring revenues as their major source of income. The Corporation will usually run the commercial side of the security business and use "Authorized Dealers" to take care of the residential side of the business.
The authorized dealers are independently owned companies that must meet the standards of the main dealership. Many of these authorized dealers are big enough residential security companies to do systems solely for the main corporation. The authorized dealer will purchase the equipment they like to work with and install it for you to their quality standards. After the install is complete the authorized dealer will submit your paperwork and a request for funding to the main corporation. The main corporation applies a sliding pay scale to your installation based on your credit score and your happiness over the install when they call you for a quality assurance call. The best install coupled with the good credit rated customers is funded at the highest dollar amount because the monitoring corporation knows you're likely to stay with them for many years. The dealer makes plenty of money for the install and the corporation goes to work on keeping you happy so that they can earn your monitoring business well past the agreement period. They are also happy to have their warning sign in your yard, as this is the best kind of advertising.
Because everybody wins when this type of system is offered, the authorized dealer is willing to give you most or all of the equipment you need at no cost to you. And I do mean give it to you because you own the system, it is usually not a lease. You will have to sign up for a period of monitoring to get these free systems, but the monitoring is something that you need and would be paying for even if you already had a system. So the system really is free.
It is with this type of program that the opportunity to work with the best performing dealer in a given authorized dealer program plays to your advantage. The dealers already get a deep discount on the systems they buy because of the volume of business the manufacturers get from the main corporation. The ones that place the most systems will get additional savings on the higher quality systems and components. This means that if you search out the best performing authorized dealer in your area you will have saved hundreds or even thousands of dollars, if you obtain knowledge of how the security industry works.
I have been going off on the benefits and exciting offerings of the large promotional dealer programs. In all fairness to the independent mom and pop companies, I would like you to know there are some benefits to dealing with them if you have a quality company in your town.
For some consumers it is much more important to support their community businesses than saving a buck by dealing with the large corporations. Although I doubt a small Alarm Company will be able to give you a free security system and stay in business very long. I do believe a smart company can make you a great offer by adjusting in different areas. Some of these benefits are as follows:
They can offer you a lower monitoring rate and still use the services of the large UL listed monitoring companies.
They will be more likely to respond rapidly to your future needs as they are relying on local reputation for future business.
They will monitor your alarm on a month to month basis without a long term monitoring agreement.
They will be able to support you and your business, as they will be more likely to spend the money they made in their own community.
All of the things you need to learn about quality of equipment, how the device's work and agreement negotiations apply to the small mom and pop alarm companies as well as the large security firms. Take time to learn these things, by accessing consumer advocate information sources. Your newly acquired knowledge will go a long way with the local company and the largest dealerships, who if they want to earn your business, will offer you the best quality they have on their shelves.