Plain Talk: More Than Meets the Eye
February 1, 2007
The IQ Certification Program is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in the security industry. If you know about the program, it’s quite possible that you have misconceptions about it. We’re working hard now to change those misguided perceptions because IQ is a vital program for our industry.
It’s one of the few programs that takes a proactive approach to quality installations by mapping out a list of guidelines for alarm companies and technicians to follow for every installation and with each customer. Despite that, only a fraction of the alarm companies in our industry today have taken advantage of the program and the benefits it brings to everyday alarm company operations.
The concept originated nearly a dozen years ago, when several colleagues and I lamented that the security industry lacked a program that would do more about the false alarm problem impacting the alarm industry. It seemed that nearly every program created up until that point took a reactive approach by measuring false alarms and then implementing actions to better manage that data.
At that time no one had established a code of ethics for alarm companies to adhere to or a set of standards to follow when it came to the installation of control panels, keypads, PIR sensors and every other component that makes a complete alarm system. And there was no step-by-step guide on how to educate consumers about their new security systems.
The idea to create the IQ Certification Program was born from the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s False Alarm Prevention Committee. The NBFAA subsidized the start-up for the IQ Certification Program, but it quickly became its own organization.
When we launched the IQ Certification Program, my company, General Alarm, was one of the first to join, but to do so we had to commit to: a training and approval process, a code of ethics, and a series of guidelines on how to design, install and monitor our security systems.
It didn’t take long before my favorite aspect of the IQ Certification Program â€” which requires that the installer test the entire system â€” quickly became the IQ Checklist. The installer then shows the checklist to the customer and goes through each item, line-by-line, to ensure that the customer understands that the system was installed properly and completely, and also to educate the customer on how to correctly operate the system. Once this process is done, the customer signs off on the work.
This checklist is one of my favorite aspects of the program because it helps customers clearly see why we do what we do. It also removes the opportunity for a customer to say he doesn’t understand the system or that it wasn’t installed correctly or finished.
From an owner’s standpoint, this checklist is an excellent quality control program, especially when it comes to hiring quality technicians. As part of our interview process, we go over the IQ Certification Program criteria and it makes an impression on candidates. By going the extra mile and working off this checklist, it increases customer loyalty and may even lower your attrition rate.
The fact is if you run an alarm company and don’t have a set of best practices that you follow, there’s going to be a negative impact on your business. If you have lots of false alarms, your margins are going to erode. If you lose the confidence of the community, you lose your customers and your employees. It’s important to look at the quality of every system going onto the wall of your customers’ homes.
Yes, there’s more to the IQ Certification Program than meets the eye. It’s time that people in the security industry do the right thing by following this already established set of best practices to ensure a well-run and ethical company. IQ is your commitment to quality, customer service excellence and the highest level of professionalism. It’s a program that every alarm installing company should seriously consider joining. Why would a security alarm company not want to be IQ-Certified?