The philosophy upon which EMC Security of Suwanee, Ga. was built centers on trust: trust that providing low-cost, high-value services coupled with outstanding customer support will build lasting relationships with customers that don’t require a signature. Vince Raia, president and most senior employee of EMC Security, explains the company motto is “We earn our customer’s business every day.”
Raia continues, “EMC Security does not ask our customers to sign long-term contracts. While every customer signs a service contract to protect company liability and to determine specific service delivery levels, our customers are not obligated to any specific term of service. We think that this forces us to always be the best that we can be, with the risk that a customer may leave us at any time they feel that they are not getting the best possible service available.” He adds, “I think the monitoring contract is relied on far too much in the industry. If you provide good service, at a fair price, your customers will be loyal.”
Given that the company has been around just shy of 13 years, this daily self-challenge seems to be working for EMC. The company currently monitors more than 30,000 in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. Ninety percent of those customers are residential and the remaining 10 percent are commercial accounts.
EMC was founded in 1998 and is owned by founding electric companies Jackson EMC and Walton EMC as well as Greystone Power Corporation, which joined as a partner in 2006. According to Raia, these are among the largest member-owned electric cooperative companies in the country. He relates the decision to enter the security space came from member customers who wanted additional products and services from their electric company.
In 2010, the company inaugurated a new $3 million facility that allows EMC to run a hot-redundant monitoring center, operated in conjunction with partner company Crime Prevention Security in Gainesville, Fla. Raia explains, “All signals from EMC Security customers are presented to Suwanee, Ga. and Gainesville, Fla. central stations simultaneously. If the Suwanee location is compromised for any reason, the Gainesville location can handle alarm traffic without the need to re-point phone lines or enacting normally required disaster recovery steps.” The monitoring center is UL-listed and Five Diamond Certified by the CSAA. From these redundant locations, EMC offers two-way voice, video monitoring and PERS system monitoring.
“The advantage of this redundant central monitoring facility became very apparent during the recent ice storms that moved through the Atlanta are during the week of January 10, ,” Raia relates. “No one could move in nearly all parts of the city, and the morning monitoring center shift was stuck in their homes and unable to report to work. Rather than working existing, tired monitoring crews around the clock, our Gainesville, Fla., location brought in additional personnel to cover for our missing crew, and no alarm traffic was lost or delayed.”
On the horizon, EMC is looking to offer more and more products that appeal to customers’ increasing interest in control through the Web and mobile devices. “Customers want control and connectivity, so we are selling more of those services that allow customers to be part of the response loop, check in on the home or business, and to control systems in the homes,” Raia comments.
In addition, the company is in the testing phase for a new “personal emergency broadcast and location device” for smart phones. The device tracks the location of the user and provides an easy connection to the central station for dispatch and communication purposes should the user be in a dangerous situation. The offering is geared towards children and adults who travel or work in dangerous locations. Innovation and customer-focused offerings also forms part of the company’s core mission.
How is a business model so aggressive in growth yet passive on contracts sustainable? It’s all about distinctive offerings. “Low-cost monitoring with no long-term contracts required for service gives us a unique voice in the market. However, that is not the end game,” Raia says. “We answer the phone with a live person. We have in-house salespeople to answer questions potential customers have about our services; we employ in-house service technicians to help people diagnose their system problems over the phone, saving the cost of a service call. We guarantee our service levels. If we do not perform, you don’t pay.”
EMC takes a varied approach through TV, radio, internet and mail campaigns in its marketing efforts, but one thing that seems to attract customers is the well-advertised point that the company has not increased its $16.95 per month monitoring fee since 1999. Such points of stability on the company’s behalf seem to inspire customers to reciprocate and be steadfast with their business, even without a term-of-service obligation.