How to Choose the Right Security Company For Your home

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National or local alarm company? What are the pros and cons of each?

You’ve decided that an alarm system makes sense for you, but now you need to decide who you will trust to come into your home and protect your family and possessions. How to choose the right security company for your home…

Basically, you have two kinds of companies to choose from: the large national alarm providers with millions of customers or the smaller, local company down the street from you. Which company can you trust?

In this post, I discuss the pros and cons of several areas that’ll help influence your decision-making.
As always, drop me an email or call if you have questions concerning security and fire issues.

National companies have some apparent advantages over local companies, but they come with drawbacks.

Cost

A national company will often offer you a free system and free installation. This offer is advantageous if you need a system immediately, but don’t have a lot of money to shell out for the system.

The drawback to this approach is you don’t own the alarm system. The system is installed for free because you don’t buy the system—you lease it.

In this scenario you’ll pay much more monthly (sometimes 2 or 3 times more) because you cover both the lease cost and monitoring service cost. Additionally, because you lease the system, you generally sign a lengthy contract, which allows the installation company to recover its installation labor costs.

However, if you ever decide to sell your home or cancel your contract, the alarm company may show up at your door to retrieve its equipment. And you’ll be charged a hefty fee if they can’t recover it.
A local company will usually charge you for the system and installation up front. This will cost more out of pocket, but you will own the system, and over time, you’ll save money because your monthly fees will typically be much less.

In addition, if you decide to work with Wellington we allow our customers to work with us month-to-month—meaning no contracts, ever.

Installation

National brands often use third-party contractors who resell their equipment and services. When two companies are involved and they both need to make a profit, they sometimes cut corners on training, installation or testing. The technician who comes to your house today also might not be the same one who appears next week.

The third-party contractor is paid per sale, but it’s often not the same firm that services the system. The contractor’s priority is to install as many systems as it can, as quickly as it can, then move on and let the national carrier worry about servicing the systems.

The third-party sales team also receives high margins on additions and upcharges to the basic installation.

Here’s how it works:

• The “free” alarm system is often a basic panel, two door contacts and a motion detector. This starter package is rarely sufficient for your home.
• When the company installs your free system, they often suggest you add more door contacts or motion sensors to cover the entire premises—items not included in the free system and charged a la carte.
• The additions result in of out-of-pocket expenses many homeowners don’t expect.
• You could spend more than the quote from your local dealer; and, you still pay a higher monthly fee.
The local company lives in your community and has a vested interest in making sure your system is installed properly. They will also service your system. Since you receive a quote for installation before the technician arrives, there are no surprise charges.

Name recognition

When a criminal sees your yard sign or window sticker you want them to know a real company protects your home. Yes, some people buy fake signs! A well-known national brand will definitely be recognized as a legitimate company. Local alarm companies may not be as well known, but that doesn’t mean its signs are any less effective. Criminals learn to recognize the signs of a real alarm company. Something as simple as a phone number on the yard sign is enough to indicate there’s an alarm system on site.

Monitoring center operators

National companies typically have a massive call center that covers the entire country. This may mean you’re talking to someone in Texas about your alarm system in Ohio. National call centers may not be as aware of your needs as a local monitoring station.
Some local companies may be too small to have their own central station so they may subcontract with another company to monitor their accounts.
Whichever you choose, ask your alarm provider about its monitoring service and make sure you receive the highest value for your investment. Any reputable company should be happy to answer any questions you have about their service.

Seth StiebingerSeth Stiebinger has more than 10 years experience in the design and integration of systems including fire alarms, access control, video surveillance and sound. He’s been a project manager on numerous large-scale security and fire installations including, Target, Wal-Mart and others. Seth’s an expert at working with equipment from Bosch, DMP, Honeywell and more.

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