Having enjoyed 30 years of wins and losses, and energized daily by the possibilities for our industry, I have come to the conclusion that there are no shortcuts to success.

In 1975 – when I was installing by day and selling by night to make my new security business prosper – I’ll admit to trying a lot of “big ideas.” The goal, of course, was to generate profit rapidly and reach the mile markers of success far sooner than one should have reasonably expected. Even after the opportunity I chose 15 years ago – to partner with a well-respected firm in the cable industry, to build on every facet of what I started, and to grow it into the SDM top 10-ranked security firm it is today – I sometimes have to resist the urge to fight what my gut and my experience have proven to me all along. That is, in our industry the game is not won or lost by decisions made in the boardroom. It is won in the field, by hitting “singles” and “doubles,” and even by “striking out” now and then.

Take marketing, for example. Years ago, the right TV ad and a well-placed media buy might have added up to a “grand slam” for ADT. Then Brink’s jumped into TV marketing and soon after, Guardian Protection Services, and many others. It didn’t take long to be reminded, once again, that you cannot sustain a business and build market share on one big idea.

What comprises the singles and doubles of today’s game?

  • An outstanding sales team who can capture low-hanging fruit and generate a strong roster of referral business.
  • Multiple marketing programs.
  • Profitable builder and dealer programs.
  • A consistent pipeline of business from the residential retrofit and commercial sectors.
  • A talented installation force that operates with jet engine efficiency.
  • A dynamic customer care department who knows how to routinely meet, if not exceed, customer expectations.
  • Leaders who are in sync with the marketplace and who promote a culture built on teamwork.

Who plays the game best? Well, Wall Street would say it’s the big guys – the large, publicly held companies – because Wall Street is excited by financial people driving grand-scale decisions that, in my opinion, may not have a good foundation. The failure of debt-laden Protection One and Alert Centre are cases in point. Trying to “hit the ball out of the park” in the absence of financial disciplines is a proven recipe for disaster in all industries, including the security industry.

If you ask me, I think the little guys – the small and medium-sized companies – play the game best. They are quick and agile and know how to advance their position in the hotbed of competition. It is my opinion that they are even helping us migrate towards a more professionally run industry. Their owners are paid on the bottom line and they know their game book with a passion. Their winning game is made up of the singles and doubles they hit through well-run operations, sales teams, marketing initiatives and customer service departments.

Forget about “swinging for the fences.” What we need to strive for on a mass scale is supporting and encouraging the best-of-class small and mid-size operators in this industry.

Now that’s a grand slam.

Editor’s Note:

SDM wants to hear your opinion on this and other issues that affect the electronic security industry. If you have a strong viewpoint that you’d like to share with your peers, contact the editor: Laura Stepanek, SDM Editor, 1050 IL Route 83, Bensenville, IL 60106; tele. (630) 694-4027; FAX (630) 227-0214; e-mail stepanekl@bnpmedia.com. The editors will consider all serious submissions.