Many businesses and property managers currently use security companies to provide intrusion alarm monitoring. If you’re just starting a business, or opening a new location in a new town you may need to look into acquiring a new security company to provide security system installation, service and monitoring for your business. Similarly, if you’ve experience an issue with your intrusion alarm system – repeated service calls or false alarms, for example, you may feel the need to look into what other companies may be out there who can help you.
Looking into a new security company can be a daunting process, as there are many different security companies out there who can provide services to businesses (and some who do not!). Like the image above, it can seem like there are many similar doors and it can become hard to choose. These five questions can help you narrow down your choice and make a more informed decision when you’re looking to hire a new security company:
- What are their qualifications?
- What services do they provide?
- What type of equipment do they use?
- Can they provide references?
- What are their rates, and what are the terms of their agreement?
We’ll get into each one of these questions individually below:
What are the Qualifications of the Security Company?
Like any other business, not all security companies and some are more qualified than others. Look for security companies who are accredited through a recognized organization. One such organization would be the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC). This is the nationally recognized body who write standards which govern the security industry. If the company is ULC-listed, that’s a good indication that they’re legit. Similarly, companies which are members of the Canadian Security Association (CANASA) are also credible. These CANASA members must adhere to a code of industry ethics to become a member and members generally attend education seminars, so you know they’re keeping up on what’s new in the industry.
Similarly, what are the qualifications of the company’s security installation technicians? CANASA has a training program for technicians (ATC) and this is a good indication that the security company has quality service and installation work at the forefront of its process. If you’re looking for ULC fire alarm monitoring, are the company’s technician’s CFAA certified? In order to work in a fire alarm panel, a CFAA certification is required, and any fire alarm monitoring installation will likely require this sort of interaction. Looking into any product-specific training or certifications is also important, particularly if you already have a system installed. This ensures that the service technicians are knowledgeable on the equipment you have in place and aren’t just “winging it”. Typically, better trained technicians will install and service system that have lower false alarm rates and fewer service issues which can lower the overall ongoing cost of ownership.
Finally, how often does the security company screen its employees for criminal behavior? As we’ve wrote about previously, it’s not always mandatory that security company employees are screened for criminal backgrounds so ensuring the company you’re hiring at a minimum does this at hiring (and ideally throughout their employment!) is important.
What Services does the Security Company Provide?
Another important questions to ask is what services does the security company provide, and how does it provide them? Most companies will provide service for their commercial security systems but not every company provides it in the same way. For instance, is the company a full service company (ie: provides service and monitoring in-house) or do they provide service on site, but have the monitoring provided by a third party? If you’re looking at multiple locations throughout a region, does the company provide service for the intrusion alarm monitoring systems they have in place in all of those regions themselves or do they subcontract some of that service work where they may not have a presence? These are good questions to ask any company you’re looking to bring into your business because it allows you to compare “apples to apples”. Some situations may not provide you with consistent service “across the board” where work is subcontracted and not dutifully managed.
What Type of Security Equipment Do They Use in Businesses?
Not all security equipment is created equal, and ensuring that the company is installing equipment which is right for your business is important. First, the equipment should all be ULC-listed. Second, it should be easy to use. Keypads which have LED systems or Icon-based systems may be good fits for home use where the same users interact with the system on a day-in day-out basis, however they may not be a good fit for a larger site where different staff arm and disarm the intrusion alarm system, or where staff may turn over. Full language, LCD keypads maybe better for this type of scenario.
Also, a good thing to check is whether or not the security equipment the company is using is proprietary or not. Proprietary equipment can generally only be used by the company who installed it, and this means that if you wish to move security companies in the future you must replace all of the equipment. Using non-proprietary equipment gives you more flexibility in the future, and is generally the same equipment as proprietary equipment.
Can They Provide References?
Asking a new security company for references is a good idea to see what kind of service other businesses with intrusion alarm monitoring systems have experienced with the company. Keeping in mind that the company may only provide “good” references, looking for reviews online (like in Google My Business, Yellow Pages or Yelp) can provide some additional insight into the type of service you can expect to provide. References can also provide a good idea as to the type of customer the customer is used to servicing and if that fits with your business.
What are their rates and what are the terms of their agreement?
One of the last things to consider are the rates, and whether or not they fall into your budget. While security alarm monitoring companies all provide rates which can vary, it is essential to ensure that you’re comparing apples-to-apples here to make sure you’re receiving similar quotes. Are there fees built in for cellular service? How often is the system tested for functionality? Is there a ULC certificate included? These are all items which can impact the annual security rates for monitoring and something you need to be aware of when you’re comparing companies. The lowest price for security may not (and often isn’t) the best price for the value that you’re receiving, and the price should factor in a lot of the items we’ve already mentioned.
Other things to consider is the length of the agreement you’re required to sign, and whether or not the security equipment that is being installed is rented or leased from the company.
While there is more to consider (system design and the number & type of devices, insurance issues related to your business and the security company, do they provide ongoing intrusion alarm monitoring system inspections for example) addressing these five concerns should clear up a lot of questions you may have about hiring a new security company for your business.