Thank you to everyone who responded to my last post.
I was looking for an estimate to install around 45 panic alarms (hard wired or remote) for a social services, county government agency. This is just a rough estimate. I realize that there are different variables that would affect the price. I am trying to get a gauge on what an installation cost might be. This would be for about 3-4 different offices/areas for about 45 people. Please let me know if you need more information.
There are too many variables to give any meaningful estimate on a "hard wired" system from the information you provide. However the remote (which I assume may mean "wireless) could be estimated easily. If you use a product like Inovonics
you could get a good rough estimate of costs.
45 times one of the products listed here (mix or match)
1 times for receiver
? times for repeaters (if necessary)
1 time for interface to alarm system or method of notification.
Bonding, licensing and insurance have little to do with legitimacy. Some states don't even offer a license. Others do. Very few states require bonding. Few even ask for insurance.
From my personal observations over the years, labor prices within the same market may vary by as much as 50% from one firm to the next. Most, but certainly not all smaller companies charge less than the large, national firms. Some of those small dealers give superb service and some are horrid. The same can be said of the nationals.
In Southern California, from my experience, the rate is a good indication of how legit any technical service is. If we have somebody charging $20 an hour for ANY technical service, I can guarantee you they don't have a license, nor a bond, nor a liability policy.
How "legit" is somebody charging $20 an hour in Southern California? I mean, even if we take away all those things, how are they making a living at that rate? Self-employment taxes alone will eat up a good portion of that.
I don't want to take what you said out of context. In my mind, being "legit" means you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to taxes, licenses, and insurance policies to protect your home, assets, and business. That, to me, is an indication that you're serious about your business, that you're not a flake, and that I have recourse if the job goes bad.
All in all, that's going to be reflected in the rate.
Perhaps. I agree that, given the cost of living in SoCal, it would be difficult for a company to offer service at $20 per hour. How about a lone wolf, just getting started? He might be as honest and legitimate as the day is long but with limited overhead he might also be willing to work for sub-par wages.
When I was first getting started I did the same thing. I charged what the hardware cost plus $xx per hour. As I landed more sales and revenues became better I slowly raised my rates until I was charging about the same per hour as many of my competitors.
I charged $25 an hour for several years with a license and liability insurance. Bonding isn't required in CT. Of course, that was a long time ago.
However, we're concentrating on $20 an hour as though that was the only option below whatever the industry average is in your area. Suppose that average is $70 (just picking a number at random) per hour. Would someone charging $85 an hour be more legitimate than someone charging $70? Would someone charging $65 be less legitimate than the guy charging the average rate of $70?
I think $20 an hour is too low to be a valid barometer. How about someone charging $55 an hour?
That's a valid definition. Another might be that the dealer does good work and stands behind it. If he has the required license but doesn't have a bond is he illegitimate? What if a bond isn't required? If he has $2M in liability coverage, is he more legitimate than a smaller operator who only has $500K of coverage?
Do you see what I mean? I'm not saying that fees are not and indicator of how stable a company is. Only that there isn't necesarily a direct correlation between fee and legitimacy.
I was serious about my business when I got started. I did the best I could and installed the most reliable hardware I could find. I made it my business to learn everything I could about the systems and technologies in the trade. However, in the early years I had little money for insurance. I got a license but I had to hire a licensed tech until I had enough hours to take the test. I never needed bonding because I didn't do banks. Yet I spent 24 years building a fine, small, independent alarm company. Some salesmen from a few of the bigger firms used to poke fun at my little alarm company. But I killed them on sales fairly consistently and they knew it.
No doubt about that. Where we differ is in the degree to which the rate reflects legitimacy.
You asked a lot of questions, I hope they were rhetorical. ;-)
I understand what you're saying. You brought up some good points.
I know an installer in the area that only charges $45 an hour. I've seen his work, and he has a good reputation. Based on his rate, though, I'd guess he's not "legit." Could be, but I doubt it. (For one, he doesn't charge anything more for his helper, when he needs one.) But, his work is good, IMO. Very clean installs.
In any event, I wasn't trying to invalidate what you had stated... Just adding another layer of consideration. The spread between $70 and $85 isn't that big of a deal. The spread between $20 and $70 (and in our area $120) should raise some flags at both ends. At least in my mind as a consumer.
Yep. I only wanted to make a point. I wasn't using specific figures as though they are actual. I have no idea what the average firm in SoCal gets. For your sake I hope it's lots. :^)
You did as well.
IMO that's more important than whether he has a bond or $2M in liability coverage. That doesn't mean bonding and insurance are unimportant though.
It's p-ossible that he's willing to take a lower rate just to gain enough accounts to become stable. As I'm sure you know, monitoring is the most important profit center for most stable alarm companies. By accepting a lower rate he may be countering the "zero down" deals which the authorized dealer programs promote. Without knowing more about his operation I doubt either of us could say for sure how stable his business is.
Only time will tell.
I didn't think you were. You make a valid point. If they charge too little for their work one has to wonder what areas are being ignored.
That was sort of inverse hyperbole... not intended as significant.