When it comes to alarm systems one size does not fit all. If it appears you have come in and installed a cookie-cutter system with no regard for the customer’s unique needs, you’re going to open yourself up as a potential target for having installed the wrong alarm system for the situation. By contrast, if you do the work you should and offer a system that fits the situation, you’ll gain life-long customers by showing your expertise and caring, and perhaps increase your sales. Here are four best practices when installing or taking over an alarm system to document your customer’s needs and what you installed and why.
First, whether you’re installing a new system or taking over an old system, you need to assess what the customer needs. This involves a thorough inspection of the premises and asking the customer what kind of protection he or she is seeking.
Every customer’s situation is unique. Some people just want to secure their house while they’re at work, while others have small children they’re concerned about leaving the house undetected. If the customer is a previous alarm system user, ask questions about how he or she used the alarm system, what features they used, and what they liked and disliked about the system. Then, document in the customer’s file what his or her needs and expectations are for the alarm system.
Second, after you’ve discussed your customer’s situation and made your own thorough assessment of what the customer needs, you should offer your customer a selection of alarm components based on his or her unique situation. Sometimes a bundled package of components will be the right choice, but you shouldn’t simply stick to whatever you have on sale. You should be able to document in writing in the customer’s file that you offered the best, state of-the art system for the customer’s needs. If the customer declines some items you believe are necessary, which is inevitable, you should document that too.
Third, after installation and/or reactivation you should explain to the customer how the alarm system works, and how each component works, what components are on or off based on how it is armed, and how the different zones operate—and, ideally, have the customer acknowledge in writing that this was done. You should also leave the customer the owner’s manuals for the system, if available (even older system’s manuals can usually be found on the internet), and document that you have done so.
Finally, it’s also a good practice to document what alarm components you installed new and what was installed previously, with as much detail as possible. This should include the manufacturer and model number of the components and detailed description of where they are installed (use photographs, and building plans where available).