I had one of my customers call me today to cancel service. It seems another company just happened to be in the neighborhood and had a promotion going on. The promotion was a free alarm system with keyfob's. So my customer decided to go with the new company and get the free system.
They pulled out my DSC Maxis panel that had 65 zones and put in a 2 door and a motion lick n stick special. Im not sure how these guys can sleep at night when they do stuff like this.
I think this gentleman's advice is absolutely spot on the money ! IMO, they didn't steal an account as much as you lost an account (no flame intended)! The question you should be concerned about is why ! Sure there will always be a few penny pinchers who will leave you for a couple of bucks savings a month; however, this customer chose to seriously degrade his overall level of security, which seems to imply (perhaps), he was reacting in an emotional way to the opportunity to leave you.
This is no flame against you, but I truly believe that if you are giving quality service, and your pricing is not too far out of line, the chances of a client leaving you for an unknown factor is pretty low. Real estate has three rules..."location, location, location". IMO, the security business has three as well..."service, service,service" ! The presence or absence of a long term contract doesn't play too much into the scenario overall if the customer is unhappy with services provided. That's why I get so many takeover clients from ADT and the other mass market "paper flippers"...... prices totally out of line after the end of the contract, and poor service !
Speaking only from personal experience, a bigger risk lately is the loss of clients to little companies who don't give a shit about the client's overall security, and are willing to hook the panel up to VoIP !! I've lost quite a few clients to a couple of local scumbag companies who do this as a matter of course ! I figure if the client is so stupid that he'll jeopardize everything for a few bucks a month, I'm probably better off without him. Besides, once you reach a certain threshold, customers are coming in the door faster than you can handle them anyway...
But with some customers, it certainly is... "go figure".....
Not only with the customer but the company as well. It is called torturous interference with an existing contract. Depending on the circumstances, theft by conversion is another question to ask your legal counsel.
Do you let them walk? Do you let the other company continue to hit the homes with your signs, telling the customer that it is alright to flip because you won't do anything about it? If so, you will be simply replacing and not building. With over 400 alarm companies in my area, with some of the wildest marketing ideas you could dream of, over the years, I have definiately had my attorney write some of them nasty grams about their sales habits. Luckily, I have a fairly loyal account base and they call me when one of these jokers show up selling their snake oil. I have had to build a one on one relationship with ADT's attorney, and I sat on the NBFAA's Board of Directors with the Brinks attorney, so it is real easy to call off those dogs with so many of the authorized dealers running around down here with their "freebies".
I really don't care how other companies choose to operate, but when they start taking money away from my retirement, and for you younger guys, money out of your childrens college fund, I have a problem with that. If I loose a customer, as some have said in this post, for something I could have controlled, I get what I deserve. However, when someone starts targeting my accounts in a developement with mass blitz sales campaigns, or starts tempting my clients with these BS programs, then I start looking at it in a different light. I am fortunate enough to have enough ware-with-all, down here, to protect my assets, one way or another, from these run-amucks. Don't lay down, stand up like a man for what you have worked hard for. You will be far more respected. Just a little of my Dad's soapbox.
I am having trouble understanding some of these replies in regards to it appearing as if we own the client even after they have fulfilled the original terms. If a client wants to jump ship after the initial term then let them. This is a free market society, and the belief that the customer is ours forever is ludicrous. Imagine if your long distance company or cell phone company felt the same way. You have a Nextel and you decide to switch to Cingular when your contract is up. Are you a scumbag for leaving Nextel, or is Cingular playing dirty pool in signing you up? A satisfied customer won't think about switching unless they feel they can get a better deal. What is so wrong with that? When we solicit the customer we talk about how what we offer will truly benefit them but we switch hats once that same customer finds someone else who will up the ante.
They may have tied into the existing devices but I didnt think they would have done it for free. They pulled out the Maxis so they would have had to put in all new expanders or another Maxis.
When I talked to my custmer she insisted she was happy with the service we have given her over the (10) years but she liked the idea of a system that would use a key-fob. She did say we should have let her know that the system she had could have used keyfobs. I guess we could have retained her if we only had kept her more informed on what her system could do.
We send out a newsletter to all of our customers about 6 times a year. It dont look like to many people read them. Does anyone have a better way of keeping their customers informed?
We charged her 15.00 per month for monitoring so I dont think price was an issue. Im sure she is paying double that for her "free" system. Thanks for all the great responses and I appreciate the objective points of view.
I'd chalk it up to sheer stupidity on your customer's part. We quoted on a system recently in which the customer was actually considering AlarmFarce. When it came to comparing services though it was pretty much a "no brainer". AlarmFarce was protecting one door and providing a single motion in a house that was 3500 square feet on two levels with a walk out basement. When the customer questioned the rep (800 number - no one actually came out to see them), he said it would be "easy" to secure the basement with another motion.
"But what about an extra keypad?" they asked.
"Oh," said the rep, "you don't need one. Your touchtone phones become your keypad."
"But it doesn't tell me 'status' if there's an alarm at night (in fact the phone goes dead while the panel communicates *if* they hook it up properly), and your keypad (with the two way voice feature) is downstairs. How are we supposed to get help? And what about if we want to go downstairs for a glass of milk? We'd have to remember to disarm the system."
"Oh, no," said the rep, "the motions automatically bypass at night".
"But that would only leave only one door contact protecting my whole house. What am I supposed to do? Put up a sign that says 'Attention Burglars! Use this door to force entry between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am?'"