Solving the Residential Security Conundrum of COVID-19

The novel coronavirus is causing a sea change in consumer behavior, but security professionals who stay customer-centric in times like these will find ways to strengthen their position.

Originally published by Security Sales & Integration 

Consumers are craving safety in a world that seems increasingly dangerous. And while they’re eager to use sophisticated technology to secure their families and their homes, they’re not likely to open their doors to the professionals who install and maintain such security systems.

It’s a conundrum the likes of which the professional security installer hasn’t seen before, and it’s sending ripples of anxiety through the industry: Is this the moment I lose my customers to tech giants like Google and Amazon who offer out-of-the-box solutions that will turn millions of consumers into self-reliant, DIYers?

The answer to this question is no. In fact, this is the moment the professional installer becomes more important to consumers than ever, and even grows the business in ways that might not have been impossible just a few months ago.

The spread of COVID-19 is causing a sea change in consumer behavior, and professionals who stay customer-centric in times like these will find ways to strengthen their position, and show that now more than ever the human touch matters — even if it must be done at a distance.


The Contactless Install


With home visits to customers off the table in many states, the only way forward is to offer a self-install option, which means pre-provisioning many components of a security system on the bench before shipping an out-of-the-box-ready system to customers’ doorsteps.

While some professionals have been offering this option for quite some time, others have resisted, believing that giving the consumer too many “tools” means cutting the installer completely out of the picture.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed that. For the time being, there is no home visit and working side-by-side with the customer in person, so giving consumers the tools they need to install their own systems with remote help from the pro is the only option.

But this doesn’t have to diminish the role of the professional. In fact, it’s the opposite. Consumers need experts now more than ever, especially when it comes to personal safety.

Other industries are moving ahead by replacing in-person meetings with Zoom calls and finding other tech-enabled workarounds. We must do the same, because our customers need us.


Beyond Survival: Think Growth


Without the burden of having to drive to meet a customer, security pros can expand their horizons. Sending pre-provisioned security systems— and working with the customer over video chat to perform the installs — means customers can now be located anywhere.

But finding those customers may be a different challenge. Going door to door is unlikely to yield the usual results.

That means a shift to digital advertising. Stuck at home, and with the Internet as their guide, consumers are increasingly reaching out to the dealers who are visible and easy to find online. To capitalize on this trend, consider:

  • Claiming your position online by strengthening your social media presence
  • Leveraging Google Ads for improved visibility
  • Refreshing your website content with COVID-19 specific messages

We don’t know how long it will take to go back to normal, but when we get there, you’ll be well-served with the digital presence you establish now.


Choose the Right Tech


This can be a time of growth for security professionals, not mere survival. But like all adaptations, it requires choosing the right tools for the challenge.

If you’re still pulling wires, unfortunately there’s not going to be much you can do to pivot to customers self-installing. You need reliable wireless security that is professional-grade but still simple enough for an end user to install.

At Alula, we have Connect+, a standalone hub that requires no drilling and receives upgrades and firmware updates remotely. That means you can install and service the panel without ever having to enter the customer’s home.

However, we recommend that you plan to visit the premises once this pandemic lifts. This will be a chance to spot check the install and tackle any projects (such as mounting a touchpad) that may have exceeded the customer’s aptitude.

The follow-up visit is also a great opportunity to upsell: add cameras or additional touchpads, for example. We’ve made our system modular so it’s easy to add onto without having to start over like you would with some systems that hardlock the touchpad into the security hub.

Nobody knows how long this is going to last. You can’t just wait it out and hope it goes back to normal before you go broke. The pro-guided self-install gives our industry a way forward.

There is an old saying in politics: Never let a good crisis go to waste. This might be the biggest crisis our industry has ever faced, but it can also be our greatest opportunity to grow.

Ron Long is VP of Operations and Customer Experience at Alula, a leader in smart home security and automation systems for professional installers. Connect with Ron on LinkedIn.