Section 8 Housing Project Creates Market Opportunity for Louisiana Dealer
Lafayette Locksmith and Security in Lafayette, La. traditionally focused on door locks and locksmith activities, but last fall Joel Broussard, vice president of operations, and Brian Lavelle, security operations manager, found a product offering they believed could not only solve problems for their multi-tenant housing clients, but also potentially open up a whole new business opportunity for the company.
The Helix security system from Resolution Products was attractive to the dealer because of its low cost and ease of installation, Lavelle said. “We started working with Resolution Products late last year around October. Personally I had used their translators and sensors, so when I heard about a new wireless product that could connect to IP it was a big interest to me to be able to save cost by having the Internet connection in the home. You don’t have to purchase a separate cell module. They sent me a demo kit to install and it was really easy. You just put it into learn mode and it does most of the work for you. It is easy for a new tech to learn. When you have to do multiple units quickly, that was to us a good solution.”
Lavelle and Broussard didn’t have to wait long to try out their new offering. In December Broussard was called out for a re-key to West End Estates, a Section 8 housing development that was having problems with break-ins and burglars coming into their vacant units and taking out appliances and even cabinets and doors.
“At that point, Joel mentioned adding this security and they agreed to do that,” Lavelle said. Lafayette worked with the management company to install the systems and assign user codes/central station contacts. The system has become a standard offering for each apartment, and each renter has the option of adding professional monitoring services for a minimal monthly fee.
Lafayette equipped each apartment with a panel, three door sensors, two motion sensors and a Helipad wireless keypad. They also added an additional wireless siren. “We wanted to include the extra siren towards the back of the house,” Lavelle said. “The wireless siren plugs in and attaches just like any other sensor. Because all these were the same it went very quickly.” Today, the system setup takes less than 35 minutes.
The initial installation had an immediate effect for the end user. “Surprisingly the first weekend we were out there we covered seven units (the vacant apartments and the management office),” Lavelle said. “We were there for about five hours. That weekend on Sunday night they had a break-in, but this time the alarm stopped the burglars and it didn’t go any farther. It was a good experience for the owner, the property and for us.”
Lavelle said the property manager believed this break-in was a test, since they had put out signs that there was a new security system. “After that one break-in they haven’t reported anything else. It has brought peace of mind to the residents and it is nice for management because we added a management user code. It is easy for the property manager to go in and look at a report.”
West End Estates paid for Lafayette to install systems in every apartment, but only pays to monitor the vacant apartments and the office.
“The tenants initially weren’t too interested, but once we installed it and showed them what they were getting they started signing up,” Lavelle said. “Every week since we finalized the installs we have had tenants call to activate it.”
Lafayette keeps a record of each unit number so when the tenant calls they are able to activate it from the office. “They are installed and when the tenant is ready we can activate it,” he explained.
Some tenants already had existing alarms, several of which have converted to Lafayette due to the cheaper monthly rate, Lavelle reported. From the original seven in December, the company now monitors 18 active accounts at the facility, and growing. “I’ve received very positive feedback from our new customers and how much they love the simplicity of their new alarm system versus their previous one,” Lavelle added.
For Lafayette, this is just the start. “This experience has shown us that it’s very viable and profitable to expand our security business,” Lavelle said. “Today, we bring out 12 systems on the truck to install in just one day. Our next step is to assess some of the other properties [for West End Estates].”
Lafayette plans to market it to other multi-tenant facilities as well, both section 8 and others. “We actually had this market in mind,” Lavelle said of their decision to offer the Resolution Products line. “We felt that because of the cost of this package and this product it would be a good idea to do multi-tenant facilities, and that is the direction we wanted it for. We are advertising with it and we are going to do a display in our shop. It can be used for low- or high-end properties. The capability is not limited to low-income housing.”