Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series of articles on tips to secure your home
By Jason Lutz, Strategic National Account Manager, Industry Relations, Resideo Pro Security
Many have tried the do-it-yourself route for home security and automation… tried being the operative word there. Those whom I’ve spoken to were either burned by the gadgety start-ups that made a lot of headlines, or bought solutions that were eventually acquired and changed their terms, or have solutions that are no longer supported because those companies completely exited the business (there are many!). Maybe you have even installed one of those devices, but you’re not sure if you set it up correctly to help protect your loved ones.
If this describes you, and you’ve now realized you’re part of the 60% of consumers who believe do-it-for-me (DIFM) is the route for you, here’s how you can find a reputable professional company and what to expect when they come to your home to install a professionally monitored system:
- Do your research. This isn’t just a smart speaker purchase; this is a life-safety system that needs to have a reputable company standing behind it. Seek input from family and friends on anyone they’ve worked with. And by all means be sure you choose a professional who is a member of the Electronic Security Association and has gone through its National Training School. This program helps ensure the dealer has completed extensive training in electronic security and is more efficient and produces higher quality work than those who are not certified.
- Invite them in. How can someone advise you on the right system over the phone or email? Once you’ve narrowed your list of potential dealers to one or two, they’ll typically need to come to your house. If they don’t, take them off your list. In my experience, I’ve found that nearly 85% of all home security purchase decisions are made at the kitchen table, face to face. A reputable dealer will show credentials before coming in your home, and in some states a license is required. Bottom line, they should show you an ID that shows who they are and the company they work for.
- Be prepared to answer questions. In my more than twenty years of selling security systems, I always started by asking the homeowner questions to learn their lifestyle. Do they have kids, what ages? Do they own pets? Is their daily schedule predictable or irregular? How many exterior entrances do they have? On what floor are the bedrooms? It may feel overwhelming at first, but rest assured that a good dealer is trying to get a sense of what your system should include. I would typically ask the homeowner to walk around the home to identify any potential issues. An air conditioning unit right below a bedroom window, for example, might require a different type of sensor than other rooms on that level. A good security dealer today will also be skilled in home-networking and will ask you about your Wi-Fi network to ensure any wireless devices, like a video doorbell, will stay online and give you what you need.
- Don’t forget the video. While it may add a small amount to the monthly monitoring fees, video monitoring is a must-have for most home automation systems today. If you get a proposal from a dealer that doesn’t have video, that could be a red flag, but it may be something they overlooked. Does the home have a backyard with no line-of-sight from neighbors? While that’s great to have, it also means the home has a blind spot that is vulnerable to break-ins. Resideo’s Total Connect platform allows the homeowner to sense motion and view video of their home, inside or out, from anywhere in the world. Increasingly, this is a capability that is a must-have for most homeowners.
- Avoid the high-pressure selling tactics. Did you know that after signing a contract, a homeowners has time to back out for any reason (it’s often called a three-day, cooling-off period). This was created to allow the homeowner to recover from sharp, aggressive sales tactics. However, if you allow the dealer to install any part of the equipment in your home, even if to just hang the panel in the location so the installer knows where it goes, the homeowner has essentially waived their right to rescind their decision. The United States Federal Trade Commission has more details about this on their website. If you think you may get cold feet after you’ve slept on your purchase decision – don’t let anyone install anything.
- Get ready to save! A final benefit of working with a local professional is that they will know about any potential reductions in home insurance rates for your area and will provide your insurer with a certificate of installation. I’ve seen discounts range from 10-20% for a whole-home, professionally monitored system. USAA offers a 20% discount, again only if the system is professionally monitored. A good dealer will know these discounts and will manage them on your behalf.
I hope these tips are helpful to you as you consider a whole-home, professionally monitored security system. In part three of our security series, we’ll dig deeper into why having a professionally monitored system is so important.