Alula’s Dave Mayne featured in Industry Publication

What’s Coming for Residential Dealers?

The way security and automation dealers and their clients interact is changing rapidly as technology advances and do-it-yourself systems proliferate. Continued dealer success hinges on their ability to embrace these changes as part of everyday business.

Traditionally, the dealer was the source of all devices and services required for a connected home. Dealers installed equipment and things remained mostly unchanged until the customer moved, stopped paying, or a cellular sunset required upgrading a system’s communicator. There was little or no need for regular interaction between dealers and their customers.

However, there’s been a significant shift across multiple industries. Consumer-centric business models, pushed by tech giants such as Google and Apple, are aimed at the cost-conscious and younger consumers who are comfortable setting up a DIY smart home system without dealer assistance. While security remains essential, these customers are more interested in automation and convenience and aren’t afraid to install devices purchased online or from big-box stores. To succeed, dealers must provide the services these customers want. Despite what some dealers may think, it’s difficult to grow while only installing security systems. 

Increasingly, dealers must accept the smart lighting, Wi-Fi plugs and other devices customers bring into their homes. Leading smart home manufacturers now design network-enabled, discoverable products that can locate other smart devices. IP-based equipment enables dealers to gain insight into what’s essential to their customers. 

New technologies, providing more benefits and services, offer dealers tremendous growth potential over the next few years. Home systems, built around sensors that detect movement and things opening and closing, are now adding cameras equipped with artificial intelligence. The cameras serve as sensors that go beyond detecting basic motion. A good example is life safety services increasingly powered by AI-equipped cameras. They detect such events as smoke and fire or an older adult who has fallen or is showing a change in gait. Built-in object detection highlights motion by people, vehicles or pets, making it easy to search for things important to end users, such as children arriving home from school. 

This industry was built on users, or their security provider, having to program what they wanted their systems to do. Increasingly, we have AI-based systems observing our actions and automatically suggesting activities. We’ve already seen this with virtual assistants suggesting music based on our previous selections. This type of learned behavior will make its way into the security and home automation industry in a big way. 

Also, look for wireless devices with improved transmission range, providing more choices for product placement. And expect new services enabling communities of family and neighbors to respond to a user’s system alerts and alarms – all through a common smartphone app.

 

SMB

Small to medium businesses represent a sizable percentage of revenue for many alarm dealers. In a post-pandemic world, SMB employees come and go at different times of day, making it essential for managers to control systems remotely. 

Dealer-installed devices can integrate with other building systems, such as access control. AI will enable interactive systems to handle events such as unattended deliveries. With a push of a button on a mobile app, the security system is disarmed. Another button press unlocks the door and the delivery person is given access to leave packages indoors. Once the delivery has been completed the system re-arms itself. And it all happens while a camera monitors the event. 

Some of the automation activities offered by smart home systems will also help small businesses control lighting and other systems, improving security and reducing energy costs. Dealers can help franchise owners unify and collectively manage multiple locations under a single account. 

 

Consolidation

In a very competitive marketplace, including DIY, dealers must become more efficient in their account creation costs. This involves viewing consumer-purchased devices as reducing the amount of time and money needed for a dealer to get an account up and running. 

We’re likely to see increased industry consolidation. Smaller dealers may be at risk if they aren’t building scale, volume or specialized offerings. Technology offers these dealers a chance to redefine their businesses, making themselves known as integrated technology leaders. They need to say to potential and existing customers, “We’re your local technology integrator. We deliver more.” Adopting an integrator mindset is an important path to survival. 

 

Cyber awareness

More IoT devices create added opportunities for a successful cyberattack. Users may have 10, 20 or more “connected” devices on their network. When they buy a device, most people have no idea where it was made or who’s hosting it. Yet, these home networks are where users do their taxes and store health data and other private information. 

Cybersecurity fears will drive some DIY adherents to a professional dealer/installer. Here is an opportunity for dealers to offer managed networks with no need to roll trucks as firmware and software updates are controlled remotely. Managing networks provides dealers with a reliable source of recurring monthly revenue.

Successfully operating a home security and automation business is challenging at any time. For years, dealers built businesses around monitoring intrusion and life safety sensors. Then came the addition of controlling lights, locks and thermostats. That’s all good, but now it’s time to think about providing remote management and proactive monitoring of more devices. Technology offers new ways for dealers to display their professionalism and take control of their customers’ systems – and their businesses. 

 

(Dave Mayne is chief revenue officer for St. Paul, Minn.-based Alula, the leader in smart security and system communications for professional installers)

 

 

 

$99 Service Credits on All Alula Panels and Communicators

Loyalty has its rewards. That’s why we are happy to announce we’re providing dealers with a $99 service credit on our panels and communicators, including all Connect+ panels and kits, BAT-Connect and BAT-Fire.

“We appreciate the tremendous loyalty we receive from our dealer partners and this credit is another way we can say ‘thank you,’” said Dave Mayne. Alula’s Chief Revenue Officer. “This credit applies to both new installs as well as system upgrades which really gives our customers an opportunity to save with every single project.”

What does this savings translate to? With an MSDP of $119, the award-winning BAT-Connect communicator’s net price after this service credit is only $20. Our recently launched FACP communicator, BAT-Fire, is $75.50* and our Connect+ Premium Kit – with three door/windows, a motion and the 7” Slimline touchpad control interface – is only $250.*

“Especially in the last year of the 3G/CDMA cellular sunset, we hope our partners view this as a great opportunity to put additional money towards the bottom line with each and every installation” Mayne said.

Visit the Service Credit page to register for the  program. To make it even easier for you, if you previously enrolled in our Sunset Program you will be automatically registered for the $99 Service Credit with no further action required. 

After registration, to take advantage of this savings, be sure to select the $99 Service Credit billing plan when registering devices on the AlulaConnect dealer portal.

“We recognize the contributions of our dealer partners and encourage all to enroll in the Alula $99 Service Credit program” said Mayne. 

 

*Connect+ Premium savings based on MSDP of $349. BAT-Fire MSDP $174.50.

Alula Services Create a Community for Alarm System Response

Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger create a collaborative environment to reduce false alarms and increase system use.

St. Paul, Mn. – March 15, 2022 – Alula, a leader in smart security and system communications for professional alarm dealers, today announced two new service enhancements – Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger – enabling system owners to create a community for responding to system alerts and alarms in real-time. Maintained by the system owner, the notification and response community may include family members and neighbors.

Community members may act on alerts and alarms resulting from detected intrusion events as well as day-to-day activities based on video clips from integrated cameras. The user’s response team receives real-time notifications and communicates with other members through the Alula Smart Security App. 

Warren Hill, Alula’s Vice President of Marketing, said the service enhancements create a home monitoring and control platform capable of checking on events that might include:

  • Inadvertent alarm activations
  • Temperature or water leak alerts from inside the home
  • Ensuring children arrive home safely from school
  • Safety checks on elderly adults living independently

Both Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger enable system owners to create an established support community,” he said. “These new tools enable community members to quickly investigate, collaborate and communicate with each other and their monitoring center.”

The new service enhancements reduce false alarms and the related penalties imposed by certain jurisdictions by verifying actual alarms. System users create and maintain their lists, which greatly increases the chances of them remaining up to date. 

Historically, the creation and maintenance of lists have fallen to alarm dealers or monitoring centers. Frequently, regular updates were not made, resulting in monitoring centers struggling to locate the right people and wasting valuable time and money responding to events.

These new features will bundle with other Alula system services and be available exclusively through professional alarm dealers and system integrators and provide them another way to increase their monthly revenue.

“These new features were designed to help dealers reduce account attrition by providing an alarm system that’s more relevant and integral to a customer’s everyday life,” said Hill.

 

ABOUT ALULA
Alula’s fire, security and home automation solutions are purpose-built for today’s independent security dealer and integrator professionals. Alula offers end-to-end alarm and interactive services, mobile app, dealer portal, wireless security/smart home system, universal communicators, translators, cameras, sensors and more. Alula’s mission is to provide differentiated security, automation and smart property solutions that help professional alarm dealers and integrators grow their business more profitably.

 

For more information about Alula, visit https://alula.com/

 

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Service Status Page Adds Transparency To Alula Services And Relationships

When you’re troubleshooting operational problems with one or more customer systems, the immediate need is systematically eliminating the variables.  Is there trouble with the device you’re working with, the customers’ internet connections or with Alula‘s service platform?

Ron Long, Alula’s Chief Experience Officer, understands the need for quick problem resolutions. That’s why Alula recently developed a Service Status page, enabling dealers to immediately ensure all Alula services are fully operational and eliminate a variable from the troubleshooting equation. 

“We want to provide visibility and transparency of our operations,” he said. “Now, when dealers encounter a problem, they can go to our website and immediately see if there is an incident in progress, planned maintenance or software updates that might impact service.”

Dealers have access to the new site 24/7, and once subscribed, they choose to receive notifications via text message or email when interruptions occur. Any member of a dealer’s team may subscribe. 

Long said, “Planned, impactful maintenance events are posted in advance. If unexpected events occur, we will post planned corrective steps and provide an anticipated time for when services are expected to resume.”

The Alula Service Status is broken down into functional component groups that span all dealers, including signal relay, video and cellular services, notifications, AlulaConnect, and mobile applications. API services are shown for dealers using them for custom integrations and enterprise services, such as email and voice services, to interact with customers. Service history and availability figures are shown for each component.

“We have redundant systems, so when we have a service platform event, over 99.9% of the time it’s completely invisible to end-users and the dealers,” said Long. “We’ll use this site only for events impacting operations. Unfortunately, they do happen on very rare occasions.”

Rather than being added to the AlulaConnect platform, the Service Status page is an external site. If the AlulaConnect portal is unavailable, the status page will still help dealers locate potential causes and let them know Alula is aware of a problem and working to resolve it. 

Long indicated that dealers were enthusiastic after previewing the site. 

“Our customers expect a high level of transparency from Alula,” he said. “We see the Alula Service Status page as another way to maintain and increase the level of trust we’ve developed by working closely with our dealer community.”

Visit the Alula Service Status page for more information about subscribing or visit AlulaConnect.

 

The Upside of the 3G Sunset

As a dealer/integrator there are two ways to look at the 3G Sunset. The first is to view it as the arduous task of contacting each customer, convincing them the absolute necessity of upgrading and spending precious time and resources completing equipment swaps.

The other way of looking at it is to see it as an opportunity. And yes, that word is way overused in today’s buzzword ladened marketing talk, but in this case it’s true. First, it gives you a solid reason to talk with your customers. That’s not something to be taken for granted. Every time you talk with a customer you get the chance to learn more about them, what they need and how you can help them. In other words, it’s a chance to sell your products and services.

Many of your customers don’t know what the jump from 3G to 4G/5G can do for them. You need to make sure they understand it gives them a faster, more flexible and secure network, capable of handling additional data. It makes their home smarter and a smart home is safer, more convenient and efficient. 

The pandemic has people looking to upgrade their homes

The pandemic and lockdowns kept a lot of people at home and in their houses. That has prompted many to look at making their surroundings more comfortable and appealing. Several surveys show more people in the U.S. are spending money on home improvements and that spending is expected to continue through the next year.

So, here are some smart home features you can offer you customers as they upgrade to 4G/5G with the Alula BAT-Connect:

  • Video doorbells
  • Security cameras
  • Door lock control
  • Lighting control
  • Air-conditioning and thermostat control
  • Garage door status and control

Tips for upselling 

The next question is how to sell these additional services and we have some tips from our own marketing team at Alula and some of our dealer/integrators leading the way. 

Offer discounts and deals – Some of our dealer/integrator partners have found this to be very successful. Your team is going to be in the customer’s home for the 4G/5G upgrade, so discounting certain equipment add-ons saves money and increases your RMR. Alula is also helping with a $99 service credit on all our panels and communicators.

Free consultation – Offer a free consultation with each 4G/5G upgrade. That way a sales rep can walk the customer through the options available explaining the benefits of added services.

Make everyone a salesperson – Incentivize your entire team. Your field technicians are often your best salespeople. Set up a bonus plan for anyone in the organization who makes a sale. 

Extend contracts – Some dealer/integrators have found this to be a great time to not only sell new services, but also to extend existing contracts.

Upgrading all 3G communicators by the end of February is a big hill to climb, but it can also be a way to boost business and increase RMR. Keep an eye out for more tips from us.

SSI Magazine names Alula Security App a Top Security Innovation

Security Sales & Integration has named the Alula Security App one of the “Top 30 Security Technology Innovations of 2021.” Alula’s app was selected under the “Smartphone App” category.

According to the magazine, the annual list selects products and services intended to help dealers and integrators provide superior security and safety, optimize installations, heighten profitability and grow customer bases.

Warren Hill, Vice President, Marketing, Alula, said the award was both an honor and a reflection of the time and attention Alula has placed on designing a feature rich, end-user friendly, mobile app.

“This award is a tribute to our design teams which create intuitive and highly functional system components that are easy for dealers to install and for their customers to use,” he said. “The award also means a lot to us coming from one of the industry’s leading publications.”

When paired with a compatible Alula panel or communicator, the app provides the same functionality as a 7” touch screen on the wall (The Slimline Touchpad). The Alula Mobile App enables users to arm and disarm their systems, receive notifications, monitor cameras, answer a video doorbell, control Z-Wave connected devices, perform tasks as scheduled or on demand and much more.

Download the latest version of the Alula Mobile App from the app store. There’s a demo mode that makes it super easy to navigate through a simulation of a system. Take a virtual tour through arming and disarming a system; navigate through options available with various sensors, check out live-view and recorded clip selection on the cameras tab and peruse through the simple operation of smart devices (thermostats, lights, locks and more). Check out the Alula Mobile App today!

Security Sales & Integration’s “Top 30 Security Products” are selected by two of the magazine’s regular contributors and columnists, Paul Boucherie and Bob Dolph.

Alula’s Customer Solutions Team Is Ready for Your Call

Any successful product-based company understands the value of customer service before and after a sale. The way a customer service team handles assistance calls, delivering timely, attentive and thorough advice, reflects the entire company. Quality service builds a loyal following willing to share their experiences, often becoming a significant sales asset. 

Ron Long, Alula’s vice president of operations and customer experience, and his 20-member team recognize the importance of their work. And they’ve set a high bar for themselves, aiming to settle all requests for service with a single contact.

“We’re pretty proud of the service we provide in the marketplace,” says Ron. “We take every piece of feedback and use it to coach our teams to make the overall service experience better and better for our customers,” says Ron. “Our target for resolving issues in one customer contact is 95% and we’ve surpassed that target every quarter going back to 2019’s Q2.”

He said Alula’s technical support team members handle about 170 calls a day in their Customer Solutions Center. At any given moment, there may be as many as 40 active product and service calls underway. A typical call has the team on the phone assisting a service professional with an on location with a homeowner.

“We have a lot of support material available across our website and Partner Training Portal that is always available,” says Ron. “But we’re still there to lend a hand if and when a problem arises during an installation.”

Although virtually all calls received at the Customer Solutions Center come from dealer partners, Ron remembers one standout call from an end user of an Alula system. The person had trouble getting the Alula mobile app to arm and disarm the home’s system successfully. It took a while to figure out why it wasn’t working.

“It turns out they had somehow managed to launch the app in our demo mode and it’s very realistic,” he says. “It will show you all the capabilities and features of the app, but in that mode, it will never interact with a home system.”

Ron joined the company 5 ½ years ago as part of the original leadership team that merged two companies to form Alula. He credits much of his success to his team, including Emilio Estevez, who leads the Customer Solutions Team; the Order Management and Regional Account Management team headed by Eric Finkler; and Customer Success Managers Keli Falls, Ryan Matznick and Chris Bartholomew. 

Ron is happy to make himself available to Alula partners through his email, ron.long@alula.com, or by phone at 832-668-0385. He says he also frequently visits the Alula Professional Dealers and Installers Facebook forum and is available via his LinkedIn site.

An Integrator’s Take on the New Alula Builder Program

Alula recently launched its Builder Program to help meet the increasing demands of homeowners for the comfort, convenience and security of a professionally installed integrated solution when they buy a new home. We recently spoke to Brian Motheral, general manager of Republic Elite Integration, a leading Northern California dealer and advisor on the formation of the Alula Builder Program, to gain his insights on how the program benefits dealers and integrators.

Homeowners expect functionality and control

He said consumer expectations have changed with the average price of a new home topping $800,000 in his area. 

“For that price, the average buyer expects some basic functionality and control over their home,” he said. “I always use the analogy of a car. You wouldn’t buy one today without Bluetooth and a navigation system. It took time for some builders to understand the concept, but they have come around. These systems changed builders’ marketing. Now, they’re quick to say their new projects are smart-home ready.”

When Motheral talks to builders, he reminds them they’re already putting locks, thermostats and garage door openers in their new homes.  The cost of turning these into smart devices is relatively inexpensive. Motheral estimates a basic home automation package costs about $500 – maybe adding a couple of dollars per month over a typical 30-year loan.

He said installing home automation systems into new homes still isn’t a large portion of Republic Elite’s revenue – most new home business still involves pulling wire and related activities. But he sees that changing as he works with larger and more nationwide homebuilders.

“We want any builder, especially a national developer, to make home automation systems a standard in every single home,” Motheral said. “We want to install as many of these as we can. We never lose money on an install – the builder is paying for it.”

How Alula helps

The Alula Builder program also presents opportunities for Motheral’s team to boost RMR. Republic Elite dispatches service techs to set up the Alula app and power up the system as the homebuyers move in. 

“The builders love the extra white-glove attention we provide,” he said. “That visit also gives us a chance to ask homeowners if they want a camera in the backyard, extra contacts on all doors and windows and monitoring.”

Motheral said monitoring home security and interactive services represent potential RMR. To hook new homeowners on the value of these offerings, he works with Alula to provide a free year of interactive services. 

“This is an area where Alula stepped up for us,” he said. “The Builder Program gives me the flexibility to determine what I want that trial period to be. At the end of the year, I’d guess up to 80% of the homeowners say, ‘Hey, wait a second. I still want to be able to control my home.’ We tell them we can make it happen, but there’s a monthly fee for that.”

Sleek design provides excellent aesthetics 

Motheral also gives Alula credit for designing a modular system that easily enables the addition of video doorbells, cameras and additional sensors. He said he adds as much as homeowners want to the Alula platform.  It’s more customizable and cost-effective than other platforms on the market, and he praised Alula for building sophisticated devices not resembling a child’s toy, like some other manufacturers’ offerings.

Among its many other benefits, the Alula Builder Program offers model home discounts, remote service activation and an optional Asset Protection Plan for during-construction coverage. The program is open to all Alula dealers. For more information, visit https://alula.com/builder/.