Smart security dealer finds creative ways to secure business during challenging time

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Monday, August 17, 2020

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—No security and home automation dealers saw COVID-19 coming, and none were prepared for the ways this global health crisis would change their business. But some companies, like All-In-One Security of Louisville, KY, may have been quicker, more creative and more successful in their response than others. 

Consistently ready to make changes

“We try not to be too comfortable,” said All-In-One Co-Owner, Eric Armstrong. “We’ve been growing this business for 20 years, and part of the reason we’ve been so successful for as long as we have is our willingness to adapt and change. We were just a couple weeks into the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when my wife and business partner, Lisa, sat with me at the kitchen table and came up with the idea for our ‘Front Porch Service.’”

All-In-One Security has often come up some of their best ideas at home. The 31-person business has been family-owned and operated from the get-go. Today the company provides low voltage security and home automation products to residential and commercial customers throughout Kentucky and into Indiana, Ohio and Georgia. All-In-One offers a complete range of low voltage products, from smart locks and motion detectors to alarms and complete home automation systems. 

While recognizing the good fortune of being termed an “essential business,”  Armstrong also recognized that the advent of COVID-19 and the required social distancing were potential obstacles to the continued success of their company. After all, like all security dealers, All-In-One had always relied on door-to-door contact as a key part of its sales processes and installation procedures.

“We realized pretty quickly that we were going to have to restructure not only the ways we get business, but at least for a while, all the ways we go about our business,” Armstrong said. “In terms of marketing, we went back to the basics with direct outreach to both builders and referral partners. We also knew we’d have to increase and enhance the ways we spread the word about All-In-One, which would require much more consistent use of advertising, direct mail and social media.

“In terms of getting the word out, we had to think of ourselves as if we were a new business, because in many ways, we were going about our business in entirely new ways. Thanks to this enhanced marketing effort, the phone started ringing and we were getting more inbound sales calls than we’d gotten in quite some time.”

Contact-free, worry-free installs

It was during that first kitchen table brainstorm that Lisa came up with the concept of “Front Porch Service,” a delivery and installation approach that also contributed greatly to the inbound increase of interest in All-In-One.

“Lisa’s idea was that we could still provide all of the professional grade products to the growing number of customers who didn’t want anyone entering their homes,” Armstrong said. 

The idea was that All-In-One would pre-program the equipment from their office and deliver it to the front door (or front porch) ready for easy installation by the customer. The plug-and-play equipment would arrive with a desk-mount stand, so the customer would never have to cut or fish wires while attempting to install the equipment on a wall. Plus, if requested, the delivery would be followed by a phone or Zoom call from a technician who would walk the customer through the install.

“The Zoom calls would allow our technicians to see all the unique details of the application, including the room where the install was taking place,” according to Armstrong. “But in reality, these calls were usually unnecessary because we would be doing all the prep work in advance of the delivery.”

The Front Porch Service also became a big part of All-In-One’s marketing efforts. In fact, the very first delivery they made this way was filmed by a professional production company and turned into a sales video that was featured on Facebook, LinkedIn and in the company’s email newsletter. 

For customers who do want professional, on-site installs, Armstrong said his company has made changes to make these visits as safe as possible. “When customers welcome our technicians into their homes or companies to perform installations, we come fully prepared. All of our technicians are equipped with personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and feet coverings. As long as we maintain the proper distance from the customer, and have the right gear on, we can make people feel comfortable with on-site visits.”

Sales make a healthy recovery

After a brief slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic, Armstrong saw his company’s sales move upwards and achieve new levels of growth. In particular, the company is selling more smart locks, cameras and other home automation products than ever before. Armstrong thinks he knows at least one of the reasons why.

“Everyone is spending much more time in their homes, social distancing. A lot of people are working on home improvement projects, getting to those jobs that they finally have time to do,” he said. “Plus, being at home with their families, customers’ thoughts naturally turn to home security. With products like Kwikset’s SmartCode 916 and the other smart locks we sell, our customers are able to know when a door is locked or unlocked. Plus, they can lock up their home from any room in the house, including the bedside nightstand before turning in for the night.”

Virtually expanding their reach

Another benefit of All-In-One’s Front Porch Service that Armstrong said the company will continue to enjoy, even after COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror, is the ability to expand its service to areas where they don’t have technicians; they can perform these installs at a lower cost. All-In-One recently performed such an install in a part of Ohio that was beyond their traditional geographic range, using front porch drop-off and a Zoom tech call. Armstrong said he is excited about the prospect of continuing this approach into the future.

He is also enthused about exploring different applications and markets using the Front Porch Service, one such market being seniors living at home. “The aging-in-place market is ideally suited for home automation and security products,” he noted. “Products like smart locks offer seniors and their adult children tremendous peace-of-mind, with capabilities like monitoring senior activity, providing remote access and simplifying caregiver management.  

“Now, even as COVID-19 anxiety wanes, senior homeowners may remain less inclined to invite technicians or installers into their homes—and for good reason. A program like our Front Porch Service can be the ideal solution for aging-in-place customers who want the convenience and security of our offerings without the stress and perceived risk of an in-home visit.”

From ideas formed in the kitchen to plug-and-play equipment dropped off on the front porch, All-In-One Security has come up with ways to not only survive during a very tough time, but to thrive. This company is proof that creative solutions can be the best way for security dealers to feel secure about the future, even when the present poses extraordinary challenges.

Paul Spinella is Key Account Manager for Spectrum Brands, Inc. Hardware and Home Improvement Channel, Residential Access Solutions. He is responsible for the company’s sales and marketing of Kwikset and Baldwin connected electronic locking systems, while supporting distribution channels within a multi-state geography in the Midwest.