|Crafts - Craft and Skill Businesses|
A home and business alarm service gets paid for selecting, designing, installing and maintaining alarms for individual and commercial accounts. This is not the same as a security service. An alarm service focuses on alarm equipment, leaving additional security methods and devices to others.
What will I need to start?
To establish a profitable alarm service you’ll need a working knowledge of how electrical alarm systems work. This will require training in electronics and intrusion alerting systems. You can get this knowledge and experience on the job working for an alarm or security service, or you can get training through a local college or trade school.
You’ll also need tools for installing and repairing alarm systems. You can purchase a complete set of electrical tools for less than $500, including testing meters. You may also need a commercial vehicle for your tools and equipment.
In addition, you will need a wholesale source of alarm equipment. You can find this resource in metropolitan telephone books, at electrical supply houses and through ads in electrical industry magazines.
Who will my customers be?
Some alarm systems specialize in working with either homeowners or commercial businesses, but you may have to sell to both until your business grows. Much depends on the local market for alarm systems, what your competitors are and aren’t doing and your own skills and experience.
Most alarm systems services promote themselves through advertisements in the telephone book or local publications. Some promote the business by putting on free home security workshops or offering free security inspections of businesses. Others work under contract to security services.
How much should I charge?
Your rate for installing and maintaining alarm systems will be based on a $30- to $75-an-hour rate. You will price your work on a markup, a flat installation fee or on a monthly maintenance contract that is estimated based on your hourly rate. For example, you may sell a $500 alarm system for $1,000 installed, estimating that it will take you about 10 hours (at $50 an hour) to complete the typical installation. A maintenance contract that includes an estimated one-hour-a-month inspection and troubleshooting can be priced at your hourly rate.
How much will I make?
As your business is built, you’ll be able to bill for 75 to 90 percent of your time. Excluding the cost of products you sell, your overhead will be 25 to 40 percent depending on the cost of operating your trade vehicle. So a successful home and business alarm service can earn the owner a gross income of $25,000 to $60,000 a year.
How can I get started?
There are too many fly-by-night businesses out there. To compete with them, make sure you have developed valuable knowledge and skills in your trade. Then find a way of letting others know they can trust you. Get certified. Join trade associations. Be helpful and friendly.
Begin gathering tools and equipment. Also find sources of quality alarm components. Get installation manuals from the wholesaler or factory that can help you do the job well in the least time.
Study your competitors and plan how you will promote your business. Come up with a business name that is both easy to remember and instills trust.
The SIC code for alarm services is 5063-24.
How can I use computers to increase profits?
Home alarm services often sell their services by helping prospects visualize the system. This takes some drawing skills – or some drawing software. Using a blocking graphic program like Visio can help you easily lay out the system on paper to show how the system works. It can later guide you during installation. In addition, home alarm businesses typically use accounting software to manage income and expenses.