Industry giant ADT is not only awake, it is focusing heavily on providing premium customer service and a better experience overall.

ADT has been around for 143 years and is the titan of the security industry. The company has occupied the No. 1 spot on the SDM 100 Report since its inception in 1991, and is often referred to by others in the industry as the “800-pound gorilla.”

While it is no stranger to throwing its weight around, often for a good purpose in the industry — ADT was instrumental in taking on the issue of deceptive practices associated with door knockers falsely claiming to be ADT, or another legitimate dealer — there was one area its smaller competitors always felt confident about having the edge in: customer service. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the phrase “small enough to be nimble” and “exceptional customer service” in connection with a smaller dealer’s strengths in relation to their bigger competitors. Riding on the coattails of the large company advertising budgets, R&D dollars and sometimes less than stellar reputation for customer care, smaller companies often press that advantage to take customers away from the big guys.

With the May 2016 acquisition by Apollo Global Management, ADT began an ambitious undertaking, under the leadership of Tim Whall, former head of the now-merged Protection 1, who was named CEO of ADT in the process. Whall is known for transforming the companies he has led using one particular principle — customers first. In fact, this is his third appearance at the head of an SDM Dealer of the Year winning company!

Bringing much of his P1 staff over and hiring others, such as company president Jim DeVries, Whall and his team set about making some major changes.

“One of the more substantial transformational changes for the new ADT was the focus on customers and the priority around great customer service,” DeVries says. “Not only was that one of the most fundamental changes but it was also a unifying theme as we brought P1 and ADT together. Our customer was a rallying point of sorts — our North Star.”

Whall believes in measuring absolutes, not averages, and in hard numbers, what ADT has been able to achieve in just over 18 months in impressive: The company has gone from a longest-call wait of 35 to 54 minutes down to less than a minute for 99 percent of calls; taken an average seven-day service call backlog to same-day or next-day service, and dropped customer attrition levels by three percentage points. Abandoned calls have gone from 10 percent to less than one percent, and employee turnover is down by 10 percent. And by year end, every call will be answered live, taking away the automated call service so hated by consumers in any industry.

Beyond the customer service refocusing, there is still the underlying strength that has been there from the beginning — innovation. In this same time period ADT has also continued to come out with new and potentially industry changing offerings, such as its recent announcement with Best Buy and Samsung Smart Things for a DIY product that can be monitored on demand; and two new offerings that will monitor individuals outside of their homes, via a smartwatch or even in their cars. What’s more, the merger with P1 brought back something ADT had stopped focusing on for a few years — the commercial market. The company is now in acquisition mode to boost this side of the business, such as the recent DATASHIELD cyber security company now operating under the ADT Cybersecurity brand and aimed at enterprise and mid-market businesses.

This month’s cover story profiling ADT as Dealer of the Year begins on page 62. ADT has always been the bellwether of the industry. What do you think the new ADT’s approach will mean for the industry, and for your business? Let us know by writing to me at