As the AMPS Sunset clause date of Feb. 18, 2008, grows closer, many security dealers fear that their customers will use this as an opportunity to cancel their monthly monitoring service. But smart home integrators will take advantage of this Y2K-type event for what it really is: The greatest single up-sell opportunity in your company’s history!

The trend toward middle- and upper-middle-class homeowners investing in their digital lifestyles continues as systems become easier to use, costs decline and functionality grows. But many dealers are still stuck in the past, fearful of long (unpaid) training sessions with impossible-to-use universal remotes or reprogramming systems for the unskilled homeowner.

The Sunset clause gives your organization the perfect opportunity to contact your customers, offer them a free home inspection and give them a plan and proposal for improving their digital lives in stages and within budget. After all, you are an invited and trusted advisor within your customer’s home. That is a powerful and profitable position to be in, if it is leveraged properly.

Here are some ideas for your free home inspection program. First, send out a simple postcard to customers thanking them for their business. Offer them a home inspection and suggest they call you, but also include the message that you will be calling them.

What should your home inspection include in addition to upgrading their analog alarm system to digital?

Inspect and offer to change the batteries in all smoke detectors for a reasonable price. Do they have carbon monoxide detectors? Flood detectors on the basement floor?

When was the last time a radon inspection was conducted on their property?

Once you have addressed their life safety issues, the bigger opportunity is their digital lifestyles. Most homeowners (more than 75 percent) enter their homes through the garage.

Is their garage door opener connected to a broader system that includes their lighting, alarms, HVAC or whole home audio? The possibilities are endless, and once you understand their level of interest, you will know what to propose.

By now, you get the idea. This is a huge marketing and selling opportunity for residential integrators to contact their customers, engage them and build a stronger and more profitable relationship. But if my phone doesn’t ring, then I’ll know it’s my alarm dealer.

All About AMPS

The AMPS standard was introduced in the Americas during the early 1980s. Most existing cellular alarm communicators are AMPS-based systems.

The Sunset date is significant to everyone and could have an adverse impact on the estimated 750,000 to 1 million alarm customers who have analog cellular communicators installed in their homes or businesses to relay alarm signals.

Wireless companies in major metropolitan areas are expected to shut down analog wireless service so they can use that spectrum to improve and expand their digital service.

Although wireless devices back up many systems that use traditional telephone lines as their primary communication method, customers increasingly are relying only on wireless without landlines.

Among the options for replacing analog cellular communicators is upgrading to a digital cellular network from a wireless provider or dealers building and operating their own local wireless networks, which can be simplified by mesh technology.

The biggest challenge in the transition, some industry observers maintain, is not getting new products to market in sufficient quantities but furnishing the manpower required for dealers to upgrade all their analog customers by the cut-off date of Feb. 18, 2008.