I’ve been installing and servicing security systems for over 27 years. I have found that homeowners who do their research before purchasing a security system have far fewer problems and are much happier with their decision.
How do you choose the right security company? Hiring the right security company is your first step in purchasing a security system. Knowing what questions to ask can save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation.
- Should you choose a national alarm company or hire a local alarm company?
- What if you’re not happy with your alarm company’s service, are you locked into a long term contract?
- Can another alarm company take over and monitor the alarm system if you decide to switch to another company?
- How technical is the salesperson, has he or she ever installed or repaired an alarm system before?
- Are all alarm systems the same?
- Who do you deal with once the sale is made and the system is installed?
- Who has access to your personal information, your user codes, and your password?
- Who are the people working in your home, have they had a background check and are they drug tested?
- Free alarm systems, are they really free?
- Should you get a free alarm system installed in your home?
1. Should you choose a national alarm company or hire a local alarm company?
You can’t rate an alarm company by the number of customers they have. Some people prefer a national franchise, while others prefer a local alarm company.
All alarm companies try their best to do a good job and keep their customers happy but the bigger the company is, the harder it is to find qualified technicians to service their customers.
The bigger alarm companies will send a salesperson to sell the job, another person to install it, and any of their servicemen to service and repair it.
Also, keep in mind that the bigger the alarm company is, the more overhead they have.
The price you pay for the installation and future service calls will be much higher, sometimes double or triple, than the local alarm company.
The benefit of working with a local alarm company is that you can deal with the company’s owner for the sale, installation, and repair of the security system. If you have any questions or concerns, you can call the owner directly.
Only hire a company that can provide quick service. You don’t want to
2. What if you’re not happy with your alarm company’s service, are you locked into a long term contract?
This is an important thing to consider when purchasing a security system. If you sign up to have a free alarm system installed in your home, you can expect to be committed to a five-year monitoring agreement.
It costs the alarm company several hundred dollars to give away free alarm systems. They incur the initial costs upfront and profit over five years.
If you purchase an Alarm System without any discounts, you should not lock yourself in a monitoring agreement of more than one year.
Once you’re locked into a contract, you will have to pay for the entire contract term even if you move to another house.
3. Can another alarm company take over and monitor the alarm system if you decide to switch to another company?
Some alarm companies use alarm equipment that only they can service and monitor. If you have one of these systems in your home, you will have to change the entire alarm system to switch to another Alarm Company.
This could get very expensive, so make sure you get it in writing that the system being installed in your home or business can be monitored and serviced by another alarm company should you ever decide to switch companies.
An example is alarm equipment made by Honeywell. These systems can be monitored and serviced by
Most alarm companies will also lock out the alarm system with a dealer code that only they know, so another alarm company can’t take over your system. They have to give you this code or change it back to the default code by law at your request.
4. How technical is the sales person, has He or She ever installed or repaired an alarm system?
Salespeople need to have technical knowledge of security systems. Finding an experienced salesperson in this industry is very difficult.
This is important because the sales rep is selling you an alarm system and designing a system to protect your family and property.
Most security salespeople have no experience in the alarm industry because the security industry is very competitive and selling security systems is not easy.
And based on my observation over the last 27 years, I would say that 95% of salespeople give up after a few months because they are just not making any money.
I can’t even count the number of salespeople who have come and gone for the companies I have worked for.
The best salespeople are ones with experience in installation and repairs, but most successful salespeople end up starting their own alarm companies.
For this reason, some of the best alarm companies are the ones you’ve never heard of before
5. Are all alarm systems the same?
Alarm companies are no longer just competing with one another anymore. Do-it-yourself security systems such as Simplisafe, Nest, and Ring have made a big dent in the profits of most alarm companies.
The alarm industry was in enough trouble when they had to give away free alarm systems to get a new customer. Now, they are also competing with the homeowners installing the systems themselves.
To compete, the cost of the equipment and labor for installation has to be lowered drastically. So technicians with 20 to 30 years of experience are no longer desirable for bigger companies.
They are being replaced by technicians with minimal experience, and the equipment is sometimes a complete joke.
If I were shopping around for a new home security system, I would ask for the brand name and the model number of the equipment being used, and I would do a little research about the reviews.
Most people who ask for this information want to shop the equipment’s price, which is a salesman’s worst nightmare.
Just explain that you understand that the company has to make a profit, and you want to make sure you’re happy with the equipment they are proposing. If they are offering to install good reliable equipment, they will be glad to provide you with this information.
So when shopping for a security system, I would try to find a small local company instead of the big national companies.
You will get far better customer service and quality in installation because you will most likely be dealing with the company’s owner. You will be more valuable as a customer to a small business vs. a company with hundreds of thousands of customers. And don’t just shop for the price but make sure you end up with a security system that will provide protection and last for many years.
6. Who do you deal with once the sale is made and the system is installed?
If you’re dealing with one of the bigger alarm companies, you can expect to see a different service technician every time you need service. The problem with this is that he might not know what the technician before him did, and he won’t know the entire service history for your system.
When dealing with a small alarm company, you get the same technician every time. He will know the entire service history of your system since he is the only one servicing your alarm system year after year.
7. Who has access to your personal information, your user codes and your passwords?
I have worked with some shady characters in the past. It is important to know who has access to your personal information.
One of the many benefits of dealing with a small local alarm company is that only the company owner has access to this information. The bigger the company gets, the more employees have access to your personal information.
8. Who are the people working in your home, have they had a background check and are they drug tested?
I have worked with many technicians who would show up to work in a customer’s home high on drugs.
Make sure that the alarm company you hire to install your home security system performs background checks and drug testing for all their installers and service technicians.
These people have access to your personal information, including your name and address, user codes, and passwords.
9. Free Alarm Systems, are they really free?
I don’t know who came up with the idea of the free alarm system, but I can tell you that he is probably a wealthy man. The idea behind the free alarm system is to give away a basic and inexpensive alarm system and get tons of customers all paying a monthly fee.
Years ago, an average security system would run you about $2000-$3000, and that is still true today if you want a quality system.
Basic or free alarm systems are suitable for apartments or small houses, be aware that you are not always getting adequate protection with just a basic alarm system.
10. Should you get a free alarm system installed in your home?
If you only want to arm your alarm system when you leave the house and don’t arm the alarm system at night, a free basic alarm system is a good deal.
Arming the front and back doors and installing a motion detector centrally located in the home can offer good intruder protection for an average-size home.
Sometimes you might have to add one or two additional motion detectors for better coverage, but at the cost of about $150 per motion detector, that is not a big deal. (That’s what I charge, but some may charge more.)
For homeowners like myself who want to arm their security system at night, a free basic security system does not provide enough protection because the motion detectors have to be bypassed when arming in night mode.
But like I said, a free basic security system is a good starting point for building a security system because you save about $600 to $800 on the equipment. But be careful because all free alarm systems are not the same. Some alarm companies use inexpensive equipment that they would never install in their own homes.
What if your phone lines are cut, will your alarm system still work?
The central station monitors your security system through its
If the phone lines are cut, the path for communication to the central station is lost unless the alarm company has installed a backup cellular radio. This backup protection is an additional service provided by most alarm companies and is highly recommended for all installations.