Most alarm company owners are aware of what the competition is up to. If you’ve got your head in your tool box and don’t pay attention to the competition then you’re already retired or should be. The alarm industry is very competitive and for the most part it’s the advertising and promotional programs that set the competition apart. The equipment and services are available to most alarm companies. With that in mind, it’s likely that you know about, or can find out about, or anticipate the arrival of, the door knockers. They descend on an area like locust going through a field, eating up all the alarm subscribers, those without systems, those with your systems and those with your competitors systems, and laying waste to the area.
Some companies accept the annual locust attack as a course of nature. Others panic but don’t know what to do. A few call me each year to find out what can they do, what should they do.
The answer isn’t easy because it depends on the variety of locust passing through your area. Are they playing it straight, using fair competitive sales practices, or are they the voracious variety that devour everything in sight without restraint, conviction or morality. Did they bother to get licensed or register? Do they just throw your yard signs on the street or trash? Put their sticker right over yours, even on the panel?
You have a few options with the door knockers [though perhaps none particularly effective]:
- complain to your licensing agency if they aren’t licensed
- complain to your state attorney general or local municipal law department that the door knockers are engaging in unlawful activity
- commence an action for interfering with your contractual relations
- commence an action, seek an injunction, for deceptive business practices
You also have an option with your subscribers. If you have a concentration of subscribers in an area where the door knockers pass through you are going to be left with three classes of subscribers:
- those that succumb to the door knockers charm, or deception depending on your point of view, and allow their alarm to be converted. You lost these accounts.
- those that reject the door knocker [and don’t expect the door knocker to be demoralized by multiple rejections – they are comfortable in their skin]. You’ve retained these accounts.
- those that don’t allow their systems to be converted but contact you to match the new equipment and price. You may have to renegotiate with these subscribers to keep them.
Once you have classified your subscribers you have another classification breakdown to make:
- those subscribers with enforceable contracts
- those subscribers with unenforceable contracts
- those subscribers with no contracts
Those subscribers with enforceable contracts can be sued for breach of contract. Depending on how many there are, and how cohesive the neighborhood is, a tough policy on pursuing defaulting subscribers will give them pause before deciding to breach [assuming they even understand what they are doing when signing up with the door knocker].
Subscribers without contracts or unenforceable contracts should not be pursued because you won’t prevail.
Here’s something you should do, and it ties in with my opening paragraph [in case you’re wondering where I was going with this]. Being proactive with your subscribers and your marketing territory may be your best strategy. If you know THEY are coming, warn your subscribers. Let them know you’re still in business, you haven’t been arrested [or you’ve recently gotten out], assure them that their systems are up to date, and if not that you’re fully willing and able to bring them up to date. The stronger your relationship is with your subscriber the less likely you are going to lose that subscriber to a door knocker. A strong relationship can be forged and sustained by:
- providing proper installation and prompt service
- keeping in touch with subscribers, offering security advice and information on upgrades to systems
- offering to inspect or survey the system without charge [maybe get an upgrade!!]
- using our Standard Form Agreements and keeping them current