In today’s security market it can be extremely difficult as a central station or security operations center (SOC) to truly differentiate yourself from your competitors, build and establish your unique brand and remain sticky to your customer base.
One rapidly emerging trend in the monitoring business is the offering of remote video monitoring and managed video services. As few as ten years ago, one could count on both hands the number of companies that were truly offering remote video monitoring and/or managed video services. Today the number of centers that do not offer them are vastly fewer to those that do.
While this increase in the number of providers has dramatically improved the breadth of service availability, it has not necessarily improved the depth. It has become readily apparent that not all managed and monitored video service providers are created equal.
To be a truly successful managed video services provider, it is imperative to understand all services that are available, the value of each service to the client, how to deliver the service and how to price the service. The most common managed video services include, video verification, video detection and response, video guard patrols, video escorts or supervision, remote gate or door management, system health checks, operational or procedure audits and cloud-hosted video storage.
Once the provider is properly versed in the market capabilities, it is then time to create their core offering – i.e., decide exactly which services they can realistically and effectively provide and build the business model upon those. Video verification and system health checks are typically the easiest services to deploy and usually don’t require the provider or channel partner to add anything to a new install or existing system other than the capability of a monitoring center or other entity to perform the service. Video guard patrols are a proactive way to generate revenue and assure passive RMR generation. Live video patrols can help to provide a baseline idea of the level of staff needed to provide these services, especially during lower-activity time periods. Video detection and response relies on the camera system itself to act as a detection system and send alarms to a monitoring entity for real-time response; thus, using the right advanced video analytic or artificial intelligence (AI) technology for the environment is paramount. Audio is vastly overlooked as an RMR generator but adding even one-way audio or “push audio” to the video can easily raise RMR values by nearly double. Remotely managed gate or door services, along with video escorts or supervision and operational procedure audits, often involve longer, more labor-intensive interactions and, in many cases, more detailed reporting. Therefore, it is imperative that your monitoring operation can deliver the necessary level of service, as well as understand how to price the service.
There are several steps to consider in building a successful managed video services program and each company that commits to the process will differ given their customer base. Some examples of these steps are as follows:
- Define a menu of services. It is imperative to know exactly what business you want to be in and what services you can deliver effectively for fair market value.
- Understand the technology. Knowing what products are right for certain applications and fully understanding all features and facets of those products will be essential to the success of your overall operation.
- Invest in the right tools for your center. Proper telephony and software are key to maintaining margin and driving the “next” level of service. Technology is emerging every day that can deliver better results and drive RMR, invest in tools that don’t limit your growth and partner with companies who have a track record of success. Their success becomes your success and vice versa.
- Create packages that are simple to sell and understand and then price each service to make them profitable. A managed services salesperson should be able to walk down any main street and know what base package is most applicable for any business or residence on that street.
- Dedicate sales personnel specific to your managed/monitored video services program. Hire good people with a sole focus and incentivize them to strive for success. The most successful companies are the ones that invest in building a core business model around these services and not simply offer them ala carte when requested.
- Training. Training. Training. Having a well-trained staff is akin to having a well-oiled vehicle. Different levels of training for various staff will ensure success: operators need to know SOPs, protocols and commonalities at all sites; supervisors should be trained on basic technical troubleshooting methods to eliminate situations that lead to excessive signal traffic that disrupts operations and workflows; IT staff should be trained in all aspects of core system management, technical integrity, disaster recovery etc.
- Create standards. Define service level agreements (SLAs) or key performance indicators (KPIs) that are relevant to the operation and create value to the end-customer. Include how you will report on each service and what customizations are acceptable. Balancing customization against standardization comes into play with how you train your staff and what tools will be needed.
- Communication. It is imperative that all aspects and expectations of the service are understood and agreed to at all levels: from the customer, to the channel partner, to the monitoring center operations team. I.E., do not sell a service package that the center cannot adequately deliver operationally.
- Portability. Today’s video market has garnered the interest of big capital. Venture capital and private equity money is available to help you grow in this arena. If you have a solid track record of performance in your current security space and are expanding, you are in luck. Build your business to make it portable, when it comes time to exit, this largely overlooked item in the beginning can cost you millions in the end. Investigate the options upfront and build a scalable and one day sellable business for the future.
In summary, if a monitoring center wants to enhance the overall value of their business through managed video services, the strategy is to keep it simple. Remember the 80/20 rule and build your business model around it. Scalability is key. Become a partner to your customer, not just a vendor – create that stickiness. Understand, and by extension, help your client understand everything that video monitoring and managed services can do for them. A true company-wide commitment from leadership to sales to operations will assuredly lead to success.