We’ve discussed before how alarm installers can get sued for forgetting parts of a contract or making mistakes on a job. But there’s another risk that installation companies should know well before they start making their marketing materials or sales plans: the possibility to appear as a scam.
Alarm scams have grown more advanced and people have grown frustrated with real alarm companies practicing scammy moves. That ranges from not hooking systems up properly to overcharging for certain services. Installers may even make relatively honest moves that may seem like a good idea at the time but look like fraud or scams to customers.
Even with good intentions, this kind of activity can lead to fines, lawsuits, and even criminal charges. It’s a good idea for upstanding companies avoid the appearance of illegitimate behavior. Here are a few of the latest reminders about what to avoid.
Don’t Charge for Evaluations (Consider a Consultation Tier)
Charging for an evaluation and quote is an excellent example of treading the line between an official business service and an outright scam. Remember, customers seek out evaluations and quotations when first shopping around for an alarm installer and find out what they need. Some installers see this as an opportunity to make a little extra cash and start for that service, which can turn into hundreds of dollars in fees depending on how much they charge.
The problem is that most alarm installers offer evaluations and estimates for free, and no owner is going to agreeably pay for what they see as a business doing nothing. Trying to charge for an estimation visit is bound to generate company complaints, bad ratings, and often industry trouble. They could even get their license revoked.
We know that sometimes a lot of work can go into evaluations and recommendations, especially for more complex commercial properties. We suggest creating a separate tier for “consultations” that do require a fee for more in-depth inspections and recommendations. That makes it clear that a simple estimate remains free while using more expertise to answer questions and create solutions comes with a price.
Don’t Require Service Visits
Service visits are vital for alarm system upkeep and accuracy, however that doesn’t mean they’re mandatory. Some alarm installation companies automatically put in service visits as a part of their contract. That bumps up the price of projects, but while scheduled maintenance is important, customers don’t always want it. Sometimes, alarm system owners would rather save money, pick their own maintenance service or are planning on moving in the near future and don’t want to sign a long-term contract.
Whatever their reason give customers the option of signing up for continued maintenance. Don’t insert it automatically into estimates or contracts without explaining what you’re doing. The same is true of monitoring plans or similar services that vendors may want you to push for certain kinds of security systems.
Don’t Make Up Reviews or Testimonials
We see this happen sometimes with small, local alarm installation companies that are just getting started. It can feel like online reviews are a make-or-break part of getting more customers and growing a business. The pressure can lead to some less ethical practices like getting friends and family to leave fake testimonials or reviews that misrepresent the opinions or experiences of customers.
This make seem like a good idea at the time, but it crosses a shady line that can get a business in trouble. Opinion can quickly turn negative if people discover that you’ve been engineering fake reviews for your installation work. It could end up penalizing your listings, damaging your reputation and brand. It’s important for businesses to prioritize honesty and transparency by only accepting reviews and website testimonials from customers they have really worked with.
Don’t Overcharge for Basic Repairs
This issue can be a problem for installers that do a lot of commercial work. When your repair or maintenance visit is a line item on a long expense sheet, it can be tempting to charge more than you usually do or look for ways to upcharge through unnecessary additions. That’s a bad idea, for two main reasons.
First, the idea that overcharging is going to get lost on an expense sheet is usually wrong. Businesses, especially local businesses, keep a sharp eye on their expenses and look for ways to save. Even governments the size of NYC tend to notice when alarm installers start overcharging for repairs. Second, this kind of overcharging can land a business in seriously hot water, including fines and revoked licenses, so it’s not worth it in the long run.
Be Careful with Sales Language
What you say matters when selling your services! Don’t imply that you work for someone’s existing security company if you don’t. Don’t try to upsell through intimidation or fear. Don’t lie about a current security brand or product to make your offerings look better. And don’t imply that contracts are written in stone — the law says that unless a customer signs at a specific place of business, they have time to cancel the contract after signing. Not following these rules can lead to customers assuming you’re running a scam.
Remember, even with the best intentions, some alarm installation companies can fall into behavior that looks like a scam or raises alarm bells. That can lead to bad reviews and complaints to business or industry organizations, among other problems. When in doubt, reflect on the behavior you desire from service companies as a customer. Avoid unexpected fees, and offer helpful information whenever you can.
As a professional alarm installer, be sure you are protected the same way your clients are. Give El Dorado Insurance a call today to make sure your insurance coverage is as comprehensive as the coverage of the alarms you install.