According to a report by Ibis World for 2016/17, your Security Systems business is fighting with more than 1,950 others. But the prize is estimated to be worth just 46% of the sector's £827m estimated value.
Why? Because the lion's share will have been eaten up by the four largest players:
- ADT Fire & Security;
- G4S plc;
- MITIE Security Ltd; and
- Securitas Services Holdings UK Ltd
In the 21st century, it's not enough to just turn up on the battlefield and wave a flag, you actually have to do some serious scrapping to get a piece of this lucrative pie. Sounds like it's Battlestations!Who's battling The Big 4?
In 2016, Ibis World reported that there were 1,956 businesses in the industry employing 10,763 staff, but estimated that a massive 91.8% of fire & security installers employed fewer than 10 people.
18.7% of these installers are in the South East - that's 365 other competitors - and 15.8% in London - that's another 309 companies that are all fighting for the same pool of customers.
Operators are drawn to this region because it has a high population plus a relatively high proportion of wealthy customers. With higher house prices compared to other regions in the UK, there are more opportunities for the sale of advanced residential security systems to protect those homes. There is also a lot of warehousing and transport infrastructure which require both monitoring for security and protection against fires.
If you're a fire and security systems installer in the South East or elsewhere across the country, there are rich pickings to be had... but also a lot of competition.
The one thing that most providers agree on is that trying to compete on price is a race to the bottom. But there are two problems that contribute to a lot of painful skirmishes:
1. One of the ongoing industry trends is engineers leaving the confines of the larger company to set up on their own. Less overheads means lower prices and more choice... but not necessarily the same level of expertise or protection for the consumer. However, whether the customer is a business, a school or a homeowner, they don't understand that.
2. The elephant in the room - the influx of cheap, foreign imported equipment via the internet that is dragging down industry standards. Many installation companies complain of being asked to fit cheap equipment or maintain DIY installations. Adopting this strategy inevitably leads to problems with guarantees when something stops working - whose responsibility is it to replace faulty equipment that is less than a year old?
How will your fire & security company prepare for victory?
Ibis World also reported that the most important key success factors for the Security Systems Services industry are:
- Must comply with government regulations
- Have a good technical knowledge of the product
- Have the ability to compete on tender
Many fire & security system installers have chosen accreditation as the best way to show off these credentials. As a result, membership of bodies like the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) and Security Systems & Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB) has soared.
In 2015, Richard Jenkins, the NSI Chief Executive reported that over 1,800 UK and Eire-based organisations had chosen them for their security and fire safety certification with over 400 BAFE registrations.
Some companies have submitted themselves to the rigorous scrutiny of an NSI Gold certification for both Fire & Security in order to be able to compete for the bigger, commercial contracts. NSI Gold incorporates a 'Quality Management System Certification', which includes:
Quality - BS EN ISO 9001
Environmental - BS EN ISO 14001
Health & Safety - BS OHSAS 18001
What's your strategy to beat 1,950 other combatants?
Many fire & security companies have had to look at the way they are currently promoting their business - the strategies they can use to attract new business and win this war of attrition.
Some installers will consider whether they should grow their residential offering. They will leaflet the local neighbourhood or take out ads in local newspapers.
With the number of Millennials buying homes and security systems increasing and the number of Baby Boomers decreasing, a few will employ social media marketing agencies to reach this younger market with Facebook ads or Instagram.
Still more will look at email newsletters - ways to increase retention of existing customers with maintenance and/or monitoring packages and to offer opportunities to upgrade or automate their systems - the new Smart Homes.
Others will investigate taking on a more commercial focus, actively targeting their technical literature at businesses. They produce 'packs' in professional-looking, branded folders for their sales people to leave when they prospect on industrial estates, construction sites or high streets. Or they send these out as mail shots to lists of commercial addresses that they have purchased.
These are all good marketing tactics but, used in isolation and without a clear plan, it's like using a spear against a tank.
The ultimate fire & security marketing weapon
As mentioned previously, some fire & security companies will have a full time sales person generating his own leads through outreach such as cold calls and visiting construction sites, etc. But most rely on telephone enquiries that come through word of mouth recommendations, vans/bellboxes or returning customers.
That in itself speaks to all manner of missed opportunities.
The stats say that most purchasers are already half way through their decision making process before they are ready to speak to a sales person - and that's because Google makes it easy to research everything! If you only get enquiries from people who are ready to buy, you're missing a whopping 67% of the available audience.
Think about that for a minute...
It's a very simple concept; help people with their research... before they're ready to talk to sales.
Well, you know that online brochure that you think is just for 'brand awareness'? That thing with the case studies and the images of happy families and technical kit?
Yes, your website!
If it's not attracting visitors who are searching on the internet and it doesn't answer the 10 most frequently asked questions that your potential customers ask your sales people... You are leaving money on the table.
But, because everyone else is doing the same, this is YOUR opportunity to truly stand out!
By identifying your target customers and making your website speak directly to them, you can:
- be memorable for the right reasons
- win the battle for attention in this extremely tough marketplace
- have the ability to generate online enquiries and increase close rates.
Alternatively, if you're happy with the way things are going, you can keep your website as it is. A generic online brochure that tries desperately to appeal to everyone but ends up pleasing no one! Hmmmm...
Get it right by writing for your target customers and they will find you as they do their research!
Your Fire & Security website can get more customers to come to you. Click the image below and download our eBook which explains what you need to do!