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Consumers have more information at their fingertips than ever before — pay attention to their needs


June 7, 2021
By Virgil Reed

What were you doing in 1996? I was dancing the Macarena, watching Seinfeld and sold computers at Future Shop.

We had some really “powerful” technology back then: Windows 95, Pentium 133mhz processor, 14” CRT monitor, and a dial-up modem to send faxes and connect to this thing called the internet. All for about $3,000. Great deal, eh!

I joined ADT Security in 1998 as commercial sales representative and had no prior knowledge of the security industry. My first task was contacting customers to upgrade their alarms with EEPROM memory to the DSC PC1550. I also sold black and white CCTV systems (colour was a premium surcharge) that recorded onto VHS tapes and DOS-based access control systems.

There wasn’t a formal training program at the time and I’m thankful the experienced staff at ADT took the time to answer my never-ending questions. If I needed more information on a product, I read through a printed manual, or called the manufacturer’s rep or technical support. There was also great magazine I read cover to cover: SP&T News! Congratulations on 25 years!

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In 2000, I went out on my own and launched Reed Security at our local Homeshow. Things were pretty slow in the beginning and we committed to a $15,000/year advertisement. What was that yellow book called again? Oh right…the Yellow Pages! We also purchased the Henderson’s Directories, which published a book with the names of homeowners as well as address, phone numbers and occupation.

Our weekly fax-blast to businesses generated a few opportunities. We tried a few months of radio, but eventually pulled our spots due to high costs and lack of results. I distinctly remember the advertising rep letting me know “it’s really hard to measure and track the results, we need to make assumptions.”

After a few years in business, we created our very own low budget website (and it looked it, too). Instead of driving prospects to call us, we sent everybody to our website.

Our digital presence let prospects know who we were, what solutions we provided and why they should give us an opportunity. It also provided some legitimacy and allowed us to compete with much larger competitors.

Then came a game changer — Google Search, Adwords, Reviews and Analytics. A digital-savvy local security provider could afford- ably convert prospects, connect with clients and build brand loyalty. Our opportunities sky-rocketed and we now receive thousands of qualified leads a year. Today, I can tell you exactly who
our clients are and how they connect with us via Google Analytics.

Then came Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and MailChimp. All of these platforms allow small businesses to engage with existing clients, target new ones and scale up.

Twenty-five years ago, customers were acquired via door to door soliciting, advertising and word of mouth. The same applies today, but prospects and clients now have more power to influence buying decisions.

Google and social media allow your customers and employees to post comments and reviews. If you care about your clients and the solutions you provide, you’re awesome! But if you provide poor service, ignore reviews and make no effort to keep clients happy, you’re not! Would you deal with a company that has a two-star average review rating on Google?

My future predictions? Security companies that pay attention to the employee experience and customer experience, and use real-time data will continue to thrive. More baby boomers will retire and there will be many acquisition opportunities. Consumers will continue to love payment plans. Be prepared to adapt quickly.

Virgil Reed is the founder and CEO of Reed Security (www.reedsecurity.com).


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