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Hiring Alarm Installers and Vetting Potential Employees

Alarm Installers and Employee Vetting: Here’s What to Watch For

If your installation business is expanding or changing, you’re probably thinking about new hires. Not all installation employees are the same – you definitely don’t want to end up with one that will steal a homeowner’s medication while they’re on the job. To help reduce risk for your business and find employees that impress customers, there are a few basics you can focus on. Let’s go over important reminders about what to look for when hiring new installers.

Familiarity with Wiring

This is one of the most obvious requirements for alarm installers, but it can be difficult to teach on the job without extensive training programs. When possible, it’s a good idea to make sure applicants are already familiar with residential/commercial wiring, and how to properly wire today’s alarm systems. That’s not only important for safety and installation – it also means that installers will be more capable of answering owner questions about installation devices like hubs, keypads, smoke detectors, and other products that require wiring. The ability to test wiring for problems is also important. Training or certification as an electrician isn’t required but is obviously a big bonus.

Understanding of Code Compliance

While many types of experience are important, always watch for applicants that are already familiar with alarm and access codes. That can include local codes, state requirements for things like fire alarm installation (wired or battery? Any requirements for new construction?), or industry-specific requirements based on your company’s specialties. This allows an experienced installer to prove that they know what they are talking about and are able to understand code compliance and learn new codes as necessary.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

In many cases, installers aren’t just installing. They are finding methods of installation and placement that match what owners want or solving problems with older alarm systems to make sure they function as intended. That means that logic, critical thinking, and the ability to easily compare options are all important traits for an installer. That can be harder to test for in an application – but it’s a good idea to ask applicants about a problem they have solved in the past, or a creative solution they may have used to meet customer demands. Their response can tell you a lot.

Specific Experience with a Platform

This is only pertinent to some installation companies, but it’s very important if it applies. Installers may work with specific platforms like ADT, Xfinity, Vivint, and so on. These brands typically require professional installation, and work with local installers that have been appropriately certified. If these partnerships make up a significant amount of your business, you will want to watch for applicants that have certification with the brands you offer or are willing to immediately get that certification through training.

Don’t Forget About Digital Skills

In the past, basic skills with Excel, email, invoices, and DVRs were the primary requirement for being an alarm installer. Today, digital experience is a lot more important – and covers a lot more ground. Alarm systems rely on many tools, including mobile apps, cloud storage for video, customizable push notifications, motion detection zones, and much more. Installers need to be comfortable with all kinds of online technology, at ease enough to explain it to owners or suggest alternatives based on what clients are comfortable with.

Customer Service

Notice that several qualifications we’ve talked about involve in-depth discussion with clients about their needs, concerns, problems with their current systems, and solutions that might work for them. That takes a lot of serious communication, which means installers should also have a certain level of customer service skills. At minimum, they need to be comfortable explaining alarm systems to strangers, and understanding what they want from an installation. It’s a good idea to ask about past customer service experience, or how an installer has helped a client understand something they didn’t before.

Physical Health

Installation work requires standing on ladders for long periods of time, often climbing through crawlspaces, and similar activities. It’s important to post physical requirements so applicants understand it’s not great work for someone with a bad back, leg injuries, or similar issues. You can establish physical requirements for a position without discrimination, as long as you are clear about the essential functions of a job, and don’t ask specific applicants about any disabilities.

Final Notes

Whether you are creating a listing at a job site or posting your own listing on a community platform like Craigslist, always take time to create details about the position. If you are looking for particular kinds of certification or experience with certain industries, list those requirements upfront in clear, simple language. If you are open to ongoing training or on-the-job training with a current installer, explain what that means, how long it lasts, and what applicants should bring to the table. The more information you can provide, the more applicants will be able to understand how qualified they are. Don’t hesitate to request any specific documents or information, either – that can be a quick way to cut down on unqualified applicants.

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