If you could invest $2/day to save 15 minutes of time daily for your tech and administrative employees, would you do it? The answer should be a slam-dunk YES, but first let’s look at why I’m asking this question. Alarm industry service software has been around for over 30 years. In the last 10-15 years, field service apps supporting field technicians have blossomed. Being able to open a work order in the field, then perform the work, close the ticket, and issue an invoice is no longer “gee whiz!” technology—it’s commonplace.
Yet, for whatever reason, the security services industry is slow to adapt. Here in the fall of 2020, as we talk with prospects, most security companies are still using paper-based service and installation management. What gives?
Old Habits Die Hard
Inertia is a powerful thing. Dealers say “what we have is working fine for us…”, and that may be true. Change is difficult and we are all very busy. We have processes in place to get our work done, and it does get done. Some dealers don’t trust cloud solutions, and some don’t trust their technicians to work remotely without paper. For sure, fast internet access is not always there, and paper can be a failsafe.
Alarm Industry Service Software: Too Expensive?
Many dealers are simply worried about paying what they consider to be “new” monthly fees for alarm industry service software. They look at it as an expense, not an investment with a return. This blog post is not about touting Cornerstone’s service software—it’s about showing how big the payoff is, regardless of who’s software or app you buy and implement.
Let’s start with cost. For most cloud-based software, including ours, there’s a base fee which covers use of the system and software. Beyond that, there’s normally a per-user fee—these days, subscription fees usually range from $25 to $60 monthly. That works out to roughly $1 – $2 per day. So that’s your investment….is that expensive?
Putting A Value On Time
Security dealers often fail to consider the true cost of their employees’ time. Without crunching these numbers, of course $30-$60/month per user for alarm industry service software may seem expensive.
So here goes: a good technician’s all-in pay including benefits will be at least $30/hour. Techs with more experience and things like NICET certifications will be quite a bit higher. The cost for a good administrative person or office manager will be at least $20/hour. Let’s assume conservatively an average $25/hour cost for employee time.
Anything Else To Do?
Sometimes owners will tell us, “We’re paying our office manager to be here and do her work anyway, so I’m not sure trying to save time will matter—it’s a fixed cost for us.” Are you KIDDING me? That says there’s nothing more to do beyond what he/she normally does. What about focusing time on retaining 1-2 more accounts per month? That means $1,000-$2,000 value saved/month. What about helping to promote interactive services like Alarm.com? That easily and quickly adds to the top line and bottom line. What about investing time in reducing accounts receivable, to get cash in faster? Any good business owner should have a long list of valuable tasks to invest this extra time into.
With technicians, the payoff is even clearer. Time saved means being able to complete a few more service calls per week. That means more revenue and a bigger bottom line. Let’s look in more detail at this payoff.
Big Payoff of a Few Minutes Saved
What should you expect alarm industry service software to yield in terms of time savings? Of course it will vary, but 10-15% time savings or increased productivity is typical depending on the software’s features and field service capabilities. At a $25/hour cost of time, the payoff would be $20 – $30 in time savings daily. In other words, you’d be investing $2/day per user to save $20 – $30 per day. That’s why it’s a slam dunk
But let’s be much more conservative. Let’s assume your new alarm industry service software package ONLY saves you a measly 15 minutes per day per user. That’s equivalent to $6.25 time savings per day, on a $1 – $2/day investment. So even with very minimal time savings, the payoff is huge: a 3x – 6x return on your investment.
Yes, there’s some learning curve pain to make this change, and to wean your company off paper. But your competitors are doing it, and many of them made this change many years ago. To remain competitive in this industry, you really don’t have a choice—you need to make an investment in a quality software solution that enables remote and electronic (not paper-based) management of the daily work flow. The solution should also offer ways to help your administrative team eliminate paper—so all the information you need about an account is in one place electronically, a click or two away.
Many Options—Specialized and Not
At Cornerstone, we like our software, and we’ve invested a lot in it. But there are other solutions out there. Some solutions are more generic, like Service CEO that offer a more general field service and customer management option. These work fine if you don’t feel you need industry-specific features. If you want software that accommodates specialized things like central station information, zones, contacts, contract dates, inspection scheduling, etc., then it may be better to look hard at alarm industry service software. Either way—make the investment…it pays off big.