Mike Lynskey

Author Bio ▼

Mike has been in the security industry for well over 36 years. He started with the family business as a locksmith and alarm engineer and fitted more than 1,000 systems before moving on to own and run his own company. He later sold out to a NACOSS company and became a self-employed inspector for the SSAIB. Alongside inspecting, he taught alarm installation and locksmithing for T K Consultants of Bolton. For the last nine years of his official working life, Mike was employed by the NSI, working with the marketing team. His main contribution to the NSI regime was to visit most of the new applicants and help them get up to NSI requirement. Since reaching retirement at 65 he does a little consultancy and has written an installers handbook. As Mike says, "The industry has given me a good living for a lot of years
July 10, 2013

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How to Kill Your Business in 6 Easy Steps

It is a sad fact of life that most businesses that start up in the security industry fall flat on their noses at the first hurdle. This is usually at the two-year point, when the first tax bill arrives.

After you have read the amount to pay, and picked yourself up off the floor, panic sets in. You realize you have got everything you need — new computers, new van, new drills, new ladders — so what could possibly be missing? Customers and profit are the usual culprits. Now is the time to go cap-in-hand to your bank manager to sign over your mortgage, followed by a trip to your more successful rival with a job application.

Driving your business into the floor is a relatively easy process, but here are a few simple ways of ensuring you fail.

Setting up:
Never skimp on buying all the latest tools, gadgets, and computers before starting. It’s only money, the mortgage can wait, and, best of all, it’s all off-settable against tax, and you don’t have to pay that for two years. Don’t forget, every (un)successful business started with a very healthy overdraft.

Never consult an advertising guru. Theose guys are a waste of time, and the money they charge is better spent on even more new tools or gadgets. So, whatever you do, don’t advertise — no leaflets, no newspaper advertising, don’t even think about sign-writing your van. After all, you don’t want every Tom, Dick, and Harry to know who you are and what you do.

Sign-writing your van:
If you positively must paint your wagon then don’t make it easy for the reader, so never list all your skills like burglar alarms, CCTV systems, access control, or fire alarms. Think up a self-inflating title like “security practitioner” or, of course, “consultant” — that’s always a good one. No one would ever think that a security consultant would roll up his sleeves and actually fit a system.

You have a land line — keep it to yourself! Make your customers use the mobile number. It is more expensive, and you stand a good chance of lost calls and poor reception. Better still, go get yourself an 0844 high rate call number to plaster all over your van, and then get that transferred to your mobile. Don’t forget to have the mobile turned off so that the call goes direct to the voicemail and you don’t have to answer it. This is a triple whammy — it costs your customer money, it hides your location and identity, and it saves you wasting time answering the phone when you could be at the pub sinking a well-earned pint.

By the way, always go to the pub in your nice, new, sign-written van. That way the local crime prevention officers always know where to find you — and the same goes for the local traffic division. We simply have to keep in touch with the local police, and what’s a few points on your licence between friends?

24-hour cover:
Who in his right mind wants to offer 24-hour cover? If the punter is bright enough to buy a system off you he should know that a man in your position has better things to do of an evening. After all, you have just had a hard day at home waiting for the phone to ring and worrying where your next pint is coming from. They can’t expect you to stay at home and worry all evening as well!

Liability insurance:
Don’t bother, it’s too expensive. It’s bad enough that you have to get the van insured to prevent being pulled over at every corner. Paying for liability insurance is just too much. You can get the cheap tradesman’s cover. Then if you brain somebody by dropping your battery drill on his head when he walks under the ladder you are covered — not for much, but you are covered.

On the other hand, when are you going to need the full efficacy cover? You are never going to make a mistake on an installation that would cause a system failure. You are never going to skimp on the system to get the price down. You are never going to give the customer poor advice, and no burglar is ever going to pit his feeble wits against your superior system, is he?

Anyway, what can they do if you get sued? If they sell your house, van, tools, and your favourite videogames just to pay off the lawsuit you can always go and live with the mother-in-law. It’s really not that bad getting nagged in stereo, and the dole money will cover your bar bill.

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22 Comments on "How to Kill Your Business in 6 Easy Steps"

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I’m not in the UK but I do have to laugh at the suggestion to park your van at the local pub.  I can’t tell you how many times I see vans for local security companies parked outside of bars around here.  I would also like to add an issue that I see often, never ever make cold calls when you have some down time and never have a voice mail box that has your company name and a decent message on it.  People love leaving messages on a seemingly random mailbox only identified by the phone number and as… Read more »

@mike – I like the way you hide your location and identity by diverting your calls and switching off when not required. The next I like is “Never consult an advertising guru”

Robert Grossman

A great article, making a great point through humor and — sadly — observation.
Here’s another one — never finish a job. It’s OK to get started with a lot of commotion, and even get things most of the way done. But always leave a few things undone; cover plates, labels, training, that last camera, whatever. By doing that, you are assured of a bad reference, no matter how well you started out, and that will be a huge help in the downward spiral!

Rob Ratcliff

I saw a few good examples of some of these ‘do not’s’ at the weekend. Quite funny once you start looking for it.
Unfinished jobs have to be right up there on the list of mistakes people make all too often.


Be totally inaccessible, screw with social media accounts and don’t take clients seriously. Add this to the six steps and you’re going down, down, down.


Why not advertising consultant ? Whats wrong with that ?       


His recommendations are good in revers.I once read a book tiltle”Whatever you think;think the opposite” So his good points are given in the oposite.


That’s kind of the point, he’s teaching us how to fail.  If you consult with someone who knows how to do advertising then you run the risk of doing it well enough that people will notice and they might actually call you.


“If you know how to fail, then you know how to succeed”. I have heard this quote and have been practicing it for a while, but not sure where it was originated from. 


I love that quote as well. Sometimes, I think some good can come out of that desperation you find yourself when you’re failing. It pushes you and motivates you in ways that success often cannot.


Many good points, especially the mobile phone.  I have dealt with them with companies other than security and your suggestions could help them all out as well.  I have had to try to contact HVAC professionals before and this was the kind of stuff that regularly happened.  The funny part was in talking to the guy he could not figure out why business for him was slow.  

John Graham

What a brilliant article; my best read for a long time and I’ve got rid of my Monday morning blues to boot!
It reminds me of the old saying: To fail to Plan is to Plan to Fail!”
John P. Graham
Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Prince Emeka Nwenyi

Very figuratively impressive success tips. “He that have eyes let him hear, and he that have ears, let him see”. May I also add that training for whatever reason is a mere waste
of time and resources, and when hiring, look for the cheapest and unqualified hands that will give you less headache. 

Rob Ratcliff

Yes, attitudes towards training are incredibly poor. That’s not just a problem in the security and fire industries, but almost everywhere. At a time such as this when security in particular is evolving so quickly, it’s vital to keep on top of training needs.

Jeff Walker

I would just like to add…. Don’t understand your client and there needs ….. Dont be polite and courtiess as the client needs you….  Dont look at trends ahead, Who needs to understand the market after all ?
But I guess there are probably another 91 tips at least……

Rob Ratcliff

There’s an interesting conversation we could have about being respectful towards your client, while also being confident enough to overrule them when they think they want something they don’t really need.


interesting point Rob, as lot of the times you have to walk the walk but keep your client happy… not an easy task… so to say… as client want latest and greatest… but do they really need it/or could get a good use of it…(money well spend)

Michael Nunns

I have been down that track, trying to keep your head above the water, living on a shoe string, paying the bare minimum for things – like insurance.just enough to get by. Then the jobs come in giving you residual income. money in the bank, then you do things properly, I did, but you know the above practice still goes on to the detriment of the industry

Rob Ratcliff

Good point — it may be that you need to srcimp on a few things one time or another just to keep your head above water, but equally there comes a time when you need to recognise if your business needs investment. Thanks for your comment, Michael.


@Mike, thanks for the post. Your article touches upon all the facts which will help the businesses to either fail or flourish. I think this advice not only works for security companies but all the companies in general.

Mike Lynskey

Hi all, thanks for your comments and thanks for the extra suggestions, it all helps us get it right, there’s more to follow soon.  Good luck,  Mike


If your not trained in something how can you complete that task.

Training offers knowledge which will lead to better installed systems and less call backs, which has a direct effect on the profitability of a company