We've all been on the receiving end of a "closing technique" at one time or another. And for most of us, few things are less likely to get the sale than high-pressure tactics. When it comes time to choose a security company that will be responsible for monitoring your property and assets, it's crucial to find a reliable provider with a solid reputation for service, accountability and responsiveness. Within those three categories, there are a number of criteria to be on the lookout for that can quickly separate the professionals from the amateurs (and, even worse, the fly-by-nighters).
A lot of companies promise things like "5-Star Service" and "Money Back Guarantee" but they also leave wiggle-room in the contract, pinning you down with lengthy terms or shortened guarantees. So when selecting a burglar alarm provider, pay attention to these key factors:
- Up-Front Costs – A lot goes into a quality security system, including the initial consultation, all of the equipment, installation, and the subsequent active monitoring services. This process can often result in fees that include: system installation, monthly monitoring, accessories, and cancellation fees if you end up being unhappy with the service (remember, you'll most likely be locked into a 36-month contract). Look for a price listing that includes all costs associated with the system. And if it isn't obvious, ask for it and make sure it's all in writing.
- Guarantee – Lesser dealers have been known to provide only the 3-day cancelation and refund window required by the Federal Trade Commission. However a quality provider knows they have you for up to three years and wants to make sure you're going to be happy enough to renew after that contract expires. That's why they're typically willing to provide at least a 30-day guarantee, during which if you're unsatisfied for any reason, you can have the system removed and receive a full refund. It is worth noting that although some companies offer "full refund," they still charge a restocking fee for returned components.
- Quality Products and Technology – The burglar alarm industry has been in business for decades and as a result, thieves have learned ways to get around some of the lower-tech equipment. That's why is essential to select a provider that's able to deliver the latest in interactive gear. Often including things like smoke alarms, flood alarms and high-end cameras, this equipment is linked to the Internet and provides real-time alerts delivered via mobile phone, often even allowing you to watch a live video stream of monitored locations.
- Warranty – Similar to a guarantee, this covers the actual equipment. Popular national monitoring services offer "lifetime" warranties on the equipment used in their system, with certain exclusions. Others will offer a limited 90-day warranty. Whether or not this will be a key factor in your decision will depend on whether you lease the equipment or buy it outright. If you purchase the components of the system, you'll want the best warranty possible. But if you lease, you may have a clause in your contract that will enable you simply call for replacements if something malfunctions.
- Moving Terms – Especially crucial if you're setting up a temporary office, moving terms enable you to take your security equipment with you when you jump to a new location and often provide discounts on new installation and active monitoring. Just make sure that within your contract it states that you are free to move the system without incurring moving fees or triggering a contract renewal.
- Customer Service and Reviews – This is a biggie. And in the Internet age, it's pretty easy to research. Do a quick Google search for the companies you're interested in to see what other users are saying about them. In particular, pay attention to their responsiveness and reputation for resolving problems and complaints. Finally, check to see if the company is listed with the local and national chapters of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, your local Chamber of Commerce, and the American Society for Industrial Security.