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July 15, 2014

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Marketing Advice for Security Installers; Consultant Q&A

concrete wall in form of a keyholeIn a career spanning nearly four decades Mike Lynskey has been an installer, ran an installation company, worked in the NSI marketing team and been a self-employed inspector for the SSAIB.

Now a consultant with a installation handbook ready for publication, Wakefield-based Mike offers advice to inexperienced installers, not just in best practice installation but how to market your business.

IFSEC Global: Hi Mike. How did you find starting your own consultancy?

Mike Lynskey: When I first started my own business in 1989, we sat down on the advice of a friend of mine, an accountant, and worked out how much was going out per week, and how much you needed to make per week or per day to stay in business. It’s staggering because even then I needed to turn over £200 a day just to break even.

IG: Presumably you don’t need premises if you’re a one-man band?

ML: No. In fact, I would advise a small company not to have premises. Work from home.

You need to get the money behind you, you need to get a customer base before you can afford premises – otherwise you’ve just doubled your overheads, haven’t you?

IG: So where do the overheads come from?

ML: Mainly insurance. If you’re going to insure properly you need to have efficacy insurance, insurance against failure to operate and against wrongful advice, that sort of thing.

IG: How would you say the role of an installer has changed over the years?

ML: How has it changed? It’s changed an awful lot.

In the old days my brother used to go out with the family business, I used to go out and install, and what we had, well, by today’s standard it was terrible stuff.

If there was a lightning strike in the next town the alarms would all go off. Nowadays everything is more or less bomb-proof, so a lot of these young engineers have never had the opportunity to sort problems out and had to sit down and scratch their heads with a customer shouting at them.

I think business has slowed down a wee bit, but there is an awful lot of business out there to be had. But I’ve never had anything through my letterbox saying, “do you have your alarm serviced and maintained?” Some of these alarms haven’t been touched for 20 years.

IG: Is there an untapped market there then?

ML: Oh yes, if you’re prepared to go around and pick up the work and do bits and pieces and learn.

IG: You’ve mentioned systems that haven’t been touched for 20 years. Are there many people around who would know what to do with those systems?

ML: Apart from the programming on the actual individual control panel, the systems are exactly the same. They haven’t changed one iota. The new thing is better technology.

IG: Have you got any marketing tips for installers?

ML: There is one very, very good hard, solid rule – no tell, no sell. That is the golden rule of advertising. If you don’t tell anybody you know…

IG: Are there a lot of word of mouth referrals?

ML: These days referrals come via the SSRB or the NSI, which has got to be good advice because these guys are all certified, they have been checked and they are doing the job properly.

So I’m a great believer in the inspectorates in that respect. You can say, “I have my work checked, I’ve got certificates to show I’m working to British standards, certificates to show. Im working to a good level of competency, I’m properly insured, I’ve been screened and vetted.”

IG: Are there any particular types of business that represents strong growth area for this kind of installation?

ML: CCTV seems to be the growth area, but that is more commercial. You don’t see cameras on domestic properties and domestic properties don’t seem to have fire alarms; they seem to have smoke detectors.

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