As the owner and CEO of Alarm Guard Security, the largest ADT authorized dealer in Canada since 2003, Mike Chaudhary, like virtually every business, was feeling the financial pinch of the COVID-19 epidemic. According to Chaudhary, sales of his security systems — which include complete, customizable packages for residential, commercial and rental properties — had started off strong in March, but by mid-month had begun to slip as the door-to-door contact that is such a vital part of their sales process was put on the back burner during the global health crisis.
Despite serving all of Canada and four U.S. states, system sales were taking a nosedive. Chaudhary realized he needed to modify his business model in a way that would eliminate or at least greatly reduce physical contact with customers, by both his sales force and his installers.
“At least we didn’t have to close, since security is classified as an ‘essential’ service, so we had that in our favor,” explained Chaudhary. “Still, it was either shut everything down and wait for things to get back to normal or find an alternative that would not only allow us to keep generating some revenue but keep our people employed.”
For Chaudhary, the pivot he needed to make was clear: offer a DIY security option. In doing so, he would be able to provide contactless installs, avoiding customer interaction. Plus, he would eschew the door-to-door sales in favor of online ads, social media, and the inbound inquiries that, fortunately, they were still receiving. Luckily for Chaudhary, because the company was in a relatively sound financial position, he simply went out and bought an existing DIY security company.
The company he purchased was DIYProtection.ca, a Toronto-based start-up that creates customized DIY security systems for consumers throughout Canada. Their offerings are diverse, beyond bare-bones security systems. The systems can be augmented with a variety of home automation devices such as smart locks, thermostats, and sensors; video monitoring services including cameras and video doorbells; and even senior protection devices, such as medical alarms.
Once details of the deal were worked out between Alarm Guard and DIYProtection, DIYProtection became a wholly owned subsidiary of Alarm Guard and is now reaching out to Canadians in smaller, isolated areas, providing DIY security and home automation systems and, when the need arises, helping guide them through the installation process. They will continue to operate with the DIY Protection name under Alarm Guard ownership.
Chaudhary now has a new weapon in his arsenal that he can use to wage war with the pandemic. With sales at Alarm Guard down by about 50 percent, the addition of DIYProtection came not a second too soon.
“This new entity is definitely helping us weather the storm,” said Chaudhary. “It’s not only generating revenue for us; it has allowed us to keep all of our people employed — including the new employees we acquired in the deal.”
That’s an impressive achievement, given the numbers of employees involved. The main office in Toronto has between 40-50 employees; an office in Montreal is home to about 35; and a U.S. location in Atlanta employs 10.
While Chaudhary is confident that Alarm Guard will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever, he is very bullish on the company’s newfound DIY direction.
“Alarm Guard is our bread and butter, and in the long-term, it will probably stay that way,” Chaudhary predicted. “Still, it’s unlikely things will go all the way back to how they were, not just in life but in business. Depending on what the new “normal’ looks like once the dust settles, DIY may well represent the future of this company. Geographically speaking, DIY has no limits. Plus, it ties in with social distancing: no installers, no service people, and no customer contact. From a societal perspective, if we continue along this path, DIY might be a more significant portion of our revenue than we expected. DIY is definitely part of the Alarm Guard family now.”
- Contributed by Paul Spinella, key account manager for Spectrum Brands Inc.