Recently, three of the top improving companies from the 2022 SDM 100 Report sat down with SDM Editor Karyn Hodgson for a podcast: Michael Hanlon, vice president of hosted and managed solutions for Allied Universal Technology Services, Santa Ana, Calif., ranked No. 14; Tim Creenan, CEO of Amherst Alarm, Amherst, N.Y., ranked no. 51; and Jim Pinto, CEO of Key Security Designs Corp., Orinda, Calif., ranked no. 89.

Each of these companies not only improved their 2021 RMR by double digit percentage points over 2020, but also moved several spots up on the SDM 100 ranking as a result — in spite of facing the same challenges many security dealers found last year, such as supply chain shortages, workforce issues and ongoing COVID-19 waves.

“It was hard, hard fought win,” Pinto said. “Probably over 50 percent of my business comes from the classic commercial high-rise real estate market. And certainly the COVID-induced work-from-home policies crippled the tenant market that serves these high-rise buildings and put a damper on the ability for high-rise buildings to bring in leases from tenants. Ironically, kind of what’s happened in this industry is the high-rise buildings took advantage of near empty conditions, and then decide to upgrade building systems and amenities for their tenants.”

Creenan described how his company came to the sometimes scary decision to increase rates as a result of some of these challenges. 

“We were kind of like, should we do this or shouldn’t we? And we answered yes,” he recalled. “We always look at a rate increase as a sensitive subject. But at the same time, sometimes being afraid to do a rate increase has a super negative effect on a company. So we did a great rate increase for our services.”

Despite some trepidation, he said the response has been positive.

“The fear is, are you going get a lot of cancellations? And especially during the pandemic … do they not see the value? Are they looking to cut costs? All these things run through your mind. But the reality of it is at the end of the day, we’ve really had a very small push back. I think I saw a report that there were less than 10 customers that canceled because of it over the course of 12 months. … The fear of raising prices because you’re going to lose customers, I think is really not a problem. Everybody knows prices are going up for everything. And they should also not be surprised to see our services increased slightly as well.”

Hanlon noted how the dual issues of supply chain and talent shortages have hit his company, and how they overcame that. 

“What's really helped us really about our people is the same thing that is helped us with supply chain, and that’s an all-hands-on-deck [approach]. We’ve really looked at it as attracting the best people to [our] organization, keeping them and giving them a solid career path, which is something that the entire company needs to buy in on. And we’ve seen great results out of that. I mean, we used to really see … silos of recruiting and, and now we’ve really seen it more as a company directive — and having the entire company not just looking and recruiting but having an active role in mentoring and career path. We’ve seen some great outcomes out of that, you know, not just Allied, but we’ve seen it with other companies and other industries and I think overall, as a country, we’re seeing great benefits of … people really buying in and rowing together. So I see that as a really positive outcome that’s come from this change.”

Listen to the full podcast here.