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The Dangers of Choosing the Cheapest Monitoring Company

security alarm monitoring cheapest budgetBudgets are important.  Every year, in every business, we are tasked with creating a budget to make our companies work to their most effective ability.  This requires a review of service contracts, fees and other expenses which eat into our budget.  One area that is usually reviewed are the contracts for fire alarm monitoring, fire sprinkler alarm monitoring, and intrusion monitoring systems. Also fitting into budgets for the upcoming year can be capital projects which include updates to the fire monitoring systems, new intrusion alarm monitoring systems, new CCTV video surveillance systems, card access and more.

It becomes obvious that when we’re evaluating these projects and services that price becomes an important factor.  The question becomes how important is price to the overall level of service, and what factors you need to consider when looking at the price you’re given from any particular security alarm provider.  Here are some items to consider:

What is the Company’s Overall Experience?

How long has the company been in business, and what experience do the installers they employ have?  This can factor into the cost of the overall installation, and also factor into the overall quality of the installation they perform.  System which have been installed and programmed by more experienced installers are less likely to false alarm, and experience service-related issues in the future.  Similarly, what is the overall experience of the people who able the alarm signals from your commercial security alarm monitoring or fire alarm monitoring system on a day to day basis in their Signals Receiving Centre?  Experienced dispatchers are less likely are less likely to contribute to false dispatches from your commercial security alarm monitoring system or fire alarm monitoring system, and this could cost you money in terms of police fees, guard dispatch fees or overtime wages for on-call staff who may have to attend to look at the issue they’ve been called about overnight.  So while you may be paying less money for the initial install upfront for installers with less experience, you may end up paying for that down the line with service calls or fees from your commercial security alarm monitoring system or fire alarm monitoring system.

What Training and Certifications do the Security Alarm Company’s Staff Have?

Similar to the experience issue we noted above, staff with improper training and certifications can cost you down the line with servicing and fees from your commercial security alarm monitoring system or fire alarm monitoring system.  Ensuring the people who are designing your system, installing your system and handling your system on a day-to-day basis are properly trained (and certified in that training) will help you reduce any of those potential fees mentioned previously.  AT FMC, all of our technical staff have Alarm Technician Training Certifications (ATC) through the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) and certification from the Canadian Fire Alarm Association (CFAA) for work in fire alarm systems.  This should give you piece of mind that any time a technician attends your site, they have been properly trained in both the commercial security alarm monitoring field and the fire alarm monitoring field.  Each one of FMC’s operators in our ULC-listed Signals Receiving Centre all have gone through and passed training through the Central Station Alarm Association and FMC maintains a “Five Diamond” certification to attest to this fact. This level of certification from our staff ensures that you know the people working on your account have the proper training.  Makes sure with training you’re comparing apples to apples.

Do they operate their own Monitoring Station?

Most security alarm companies do not own and operate their own monitoring station.  It is very common for security companies to have a third party do the monitoring for the fire alarm monitoring or commercial security alarm monitoring systems they install.  This means they have less control over the people who are working on your system (see the previous items on experience and certifications), and less accountability as it relates to the handling of your commercial security alarm monitoring or fire alarm monitoring system.  FMC owns and operates our own ULC-listed SRC, and if there’s an issue with your system, we stand behind and are fully accountable to your system from beginning to end.

What Equipment are They Using?

Makes sure that any equipment being used for your commercial security alarm system, fire alarm monitoring system, CCTV video surveillance system or access control system has all of the appropriate standards and listings.  All monitoring equipment that FMC uses is ULC-listed for the purpose which it’s being used for (commercial security alarm monitoring, fire alarm monitoring).  This means that the equipment has passed the rigorous standards set forth by the ULC for panel construction and communications. Do not accept less than ULC standards for commercial security alarm monitoring or fire alarm monitoring (and be sure to ask for a certificate stating compliance with CAN/ULC-S561 for any fire alarm monitoring applications).

Also, you should check to see what type of equipment is being installed.  Is it industry standard equipment or is proprietary equipment being installed?  Proprietary equipment can pose a problem for you if you’re unhappy with the service being provided by your security alarm company in your business.  Proprietary equipment can only be used by the company who installs it, so in the event that you want to change providers, you’d have to go through the expense of changing equipment.  FMC only uses non-proprietary equipment, which can be used by any security alarm company if you so choose.

One last item to consider is whether or not that equipment is leased or rented or an outright purchase.  If equipment is leased or rented, many times that equipment cannot be re-used with other providers, and is never actually your property.  As is the case with proprietary equipment, this can create issues should you ever want to change security alarm providers for your commercial security alarm monitoring or fire alarm monitoring company.  This type of equipment, which may be less expensive up front, can require the signing of long term agreements which increase your monitoring rates and ongoing maintenance fees. Properly installed purchased systems should long outlive the cost of the installation and provide you with robust alarm monitoring for many, many years, and would not come with the requirement for a long term agreement.

As you can see there are many things which go into the price of your commercial security alarm monitoring or fire alarm monitoring system.  Make sure you’re taking all of the factors into consideration, because the cheapest security company can have hidden costs which can rise up at unexpected times.

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