COPS Continues to Prioritize Dealers as Accolades Roll In
CSAA Five Diamond Marketing Marvel Award winner COPS Monitoring hasn’t forgotten its success is ‘completely dependent’ on dealers’ success.
November 04, 2015 | SSI Staff
While winning awards is always, well, rewarding, the daily responsibilities it takes to earn them can be even more rewarding. COPS Monitoring operates by that mantra, and has been delivering highly professional monitoring services to its dealer base for some 37 years now.
Jim McMullen, who founded the New Jersey-based company in 1978 and serves as its president and COO, states that “COPS Monitoring is truly committed to providing industry-leading services and we continue to place great emphasis on the quality of service we provide.” That commitment to excellence has enabled COPS to capture this year’s CSAA (Central Station Alarm Association) Five Diamond Marketing Marvel Award, which is presented in partnership with Security Sales & Integration and evaluated by an independent panel of judges.
Among the objectives of the award program, which was launched in 2012, are the following:
- Recognizes and honors firms that leverage their CSAA Five Diamond distinction to better position themselves in the central station monitoring market
- Inspires other certified firms to market their Five Diamond advantage
- Increases awareness of the Five Diamond program throughout the industry
- Elevates the profiles of Five Diamond firms for their professionalism to mainstream media and the general public
Find out how COPS Monitoring embodies those virtues and so much more. As you will discover, the provider excels in management, marketing, training, service, dealer relations, technology capabilities and much more.
Dedicated to Its Dealers
According to COPS Monitoring, it is the largest independently owned third-party monitoring company in the industry with 1.7 million accounts across the United States, Canada and the U.S. territories in the Caribbean for about 3,500 independent alarm dealers. With six central stations located in the states of New Jersey, Florida, Arizona, Texas, Tennessee and Maryland and nearly 700 employees, it is a large company yet retains a regional approach and strong company culture. “We never forget where we came from, and this allows us to maintain a more personable ‘home-town’ level of service,” McMullen says.
We understand that our success is completely dependent on [the dealers’] success. While we never set out to win any awards, our entire team was proud, honored and humbled to be selected from among so many quality central stations in our industry. Still, the amount of attention we received was actually new to us.
He adds that, as a CSAA member for more than 20 years, COPS recognizes that its employees, end-user subscriber customers, alarm dealer customers, critical equipment suppliers, industry suppliers, AHJs, various associations and many others depend on the monitoring firm to be a good citizen. The company supports CSAA because the organization represents these same principles, acting as a strong advocate for central stations and a liaison to listing agencies, government and other regulatory agencies.
UL Listed, FM Approved, Installation Quality (IQ) Certified and CSAA Five Diamond Certified, COPS Monitoring is also a member of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC), Medical Alert Monitoring Association (MAMA) and several other industry, state and local associations. Active in many organizations, COPS has contributed to the creation of accredited industry standards.
McMullen emphasizes that COPS has always put its dealers first. “We understand that our success is completely dependent on their success,” he contends. “While we never set out to win any awards, our entire team was proud, honored and humbled to be selected from among so many quality central stations in our industry. Still, the amount of attention we received was actually new to us. For almost four decades, our job has been to support our dealers by providing the best products and services they need to run their business and to work quietly behind the scenes as their representative, helping to safeguard their customers and uphold their hard-earned reputation.”
Earning CSAA Five Diamond Certification was an integral part of the commitment. The certification has become known as the industry’s gold standard for central stations, McMullen notes, and he believes that being a CSAA Five Diamond central station shows current and potential customers that COPS Monitoring is committed to the highest levels of customer service, ongoing education and testing, raising industry standards, and reducing false dispatches. Many of its dealers have chosen COPS as their monitoring provider because of the CSAA Five Diamond designation, he adds.
Given the large number of central stations and employees COPS has, management has prioritized the Five Diamond program as a training milestone and achievement.
Given the large number of central stations and employees COPS has, management has prioritized the Five Diamond program — in addition to in-house initiatives — as a training milestone and achievement. At a certain point in their training, dispatchers must earn the privilege to be certified. As a result, those personnel view the CSAA Five Diamond credential as a prestigious distinction. It also adds value to the company’s rewards and recognition incentives.
“At COPS, we have a strong commitment to the betterment of our industry and an ongoing goal to institutionalize excellence in everything we do, which is why it only seemed natural to supplement our training program with the CSAA Five Diamond certification,” says Director of Marketing & Communications David Smith. “Today, we are not only proud to have five central stations that are CSAA Five Diamond Certified but also to have been chosen as last year’s Central Station of the Year. We have a great appreciation for our certification and how it furthers the advantage we have over our competition.”
Marketing Befitting a ‘Marvel’
COPS was encouraged to apply for the CSAA Marketing Marvel Award by many industry professionals familiar with its advertising and promotion tactics regarding CSAA and the Five Diamond Certification. “Our marketing initiatives are focused on showing potential dealers the benefits they can get by monitoring their accounts with COPS,” McMullen explains. “We are driven to be an industry leader, and work to express that in our advertising.”
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To that end, COPS proudly displays the Five Diamond logo on its Web site, business cards and essentially in all ads and print materials since its first central station was certified many years ago. McMullen notes, however, that one of the greatest challenges in any advertising is grabbing the attention of your audience and then effectively communicating your message in a very short period of time.
“Unfortunately, many dealers view central station monitoring as somewhat of a commodity, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he says. “Even if monitoring companies appear to be the same on the surface, there are material differences. The challenge we face is how to differentiate our services from competitors that may at first appear to be as capable as COPS.”
He points to technology and a UL Listing as an example. While COPS believes the UL notice is important, the requirements only represent a ‘minimum standard.’ “They don’t take into account situations like ours, where our technical infrastructure, redundancy, disaster preparedness and recovery abilities far exceed UL requirements,” adds McMullen.
COPS is also progressive in its use of social media. Where space allows, all of its social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+) mention the CSAA Five Diamond Certification. The bottom line is that COPS remains mindful to exploit every opportunity to tout and leverage its hard-earned certification.
Helping Customers Spread Message
Helping dealers promote their businesses is an integral part of COPS’ marketing initiatives. McMullen points out that the level of marketing sophistication seems to vary based on the resources a company possesses. “Our customers are independent alarm dealers. Some try to do their own marketing, while others seek assistance from professionals, just like they do with their monitoring,” he explains.
“We realize that not all dealers have the time, expertise or means to compete effectively from a marketing standpoint, which is why part of supporting our customers involves supplying them with print, digital and video marketing materials free of charge,” continues McMullen. “Our goal is to help level the playing field and help our dealers compete effectively in the marketplace, even against dealers with much greater resources.”
While some dealers prominently advertise that their accounts are monitored by COPS, the company also can provide services under the dealer’s name – completely “invisible” to their subscribers. If the needs are outside of what COPS can offer, dealers have access to expert marketing support through exclusive partnerships with a company that specializes in all types of alarm marketing, including professional logo design, business cards, Web sites, brochures, door hangers, etc.
“By working with professionals for marketing, our dealers are free to focus on what they do best: selling and installing alarm systems, and properly serving their customers,” says McMullen, who adds that company management had two main thoughts following news of the Marvel accolade.
“Our first thought was how our success can actually translate to serve as a benefit for our dealers and help give them a competitive edge in the marketplace,” he says. The second thought, he adds, was not allowing the business to rest on its laurels but rather continue striving to exceed its dealers’ expectations moving forward.
That served as the impetus for the creation of ads based on the slogan, “Our journey together is far from over,” which highlights its recent achievements. Because it’s challenging to fully get across in a print ad all the benefits COPS can offer, the firm has begun producing videos to better hold audience attention and tell the complete COPS story.
McMullen credits his marketing team for producing effective advertising materials and video tutorials in-house. That effort is spearheaded by Smith, who joined COPS in 2008 and brought with him nearly 20 years of central station operations management experience. In 2014 another key individual joined the team when Clint Scallin brought on his 10+ years of industry experience along with a degree in graphic design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.).
McMullen adds that COPS also leverages as many “face-to-face” opportunities as it can. While meetings may not be considered traditional ‘marketing,’ COPS attends several local and national tradeshows, hosts many dealer appreciation events, and supports dealer training throughout the year.
Embracing Change as Opportunity
Remaining engaged with the industry and on pace with its challenges and opportunities is essential for continued success. Staying ahead of evolving technology is a perpetual challenge, McMullen contends, especially with broadband-based alarm signaling and the related network complexities. He sees the Internet of Things (IoT) and increased accessibility as creating new opportunities to deliver convenience and simplicity through monitored products.
COPS’ nearly 700 employees serve 1.7 million accounts across the United States, Canada and U.S. territories for about 3,500 alarm dealers.
The popularity of smartphones and the growing IoT have fueled an explosive demand for connectivity convenience and control, and ‘smart’ hardware for items like lighting, thermostats, locks and video cameras, as well as useful apps to manage these components are the types of services McMullen says customers want. Fortunately, many of today’s modern security systems have proven to be a viable platform for a more comprehensive connected home solution. Dealers that understand and embrace these new services can leverage the growing demand by integrating home automation and lifestyle services with security. In many cases, it equates to additional recurring revenue and a ‘stickier’ customer.
“In addition, a large percentage of homes and businesses are still unprotected,” McMullen notes. “Awareness of security and smart home features is exploding, and represents a massive opportunity for both our dealers and COPS. There’s also an opportunity for our dealers to expand their market in other ways by combining professionally installed systems that can be expanded with DIY install products. Even with the growing demand for DIY, a large percentage of those customers still want professional monitoring. We do not contract with consumers directly, so this is a big opportunity for our dealers.”
‘Diamond’ Sees Sparkling Future
Because the electronic security industry is changing faster than ever before, COPS’ advice to installing dealers and integrators is simple: Align with a central station that can stay ahead of the technology curve and quickly adapt to support emerging advances that provide the products and services their customers demand.
“A dealer can’t just assume their central station will automatically and continually update and stay ahead of changing technology,” McMullen cautions. “Doing so requires an extraordinary commitment from the executive team, as well as significant focus, substantial financial resources and on-staff technical expertise. You need the right people to provide education to the dealer base and ongoing support of the solutions.”
With one of the most of experienced management teams in the industry and an in-house staff of programmers and trained, certified dispatchers, COPS not only has clear vision and leadership, it has the resources and ability to give dealers the competitive edge they need.
“The potential of the CSAA Marketing Marvel Award acts as a constant reminder of the benefits of being Five Diamond Certified,” says McMullen. “It also provides an incentive to develop new ways to market the benefits and raises awareness about CSAA, which is beneficial to the association and all its members.”
Earning the CSAA Marketing Marvel Award is an accomplishment of which everyone at COPS Monitoring is rightfully proud of.
“It’s always a great feeling when your efforts are recognized and appreciated,” McMullen says. “It can sometimes feel like our message may be falling on deaf ears and it’s not always easy to measure ROI. The Marketing Marvel Award is meaningful to us because the recognition validates the relevancy of our message and signifies that we’re effectively communicating it.”
BIO: Erin Harrington is a longtime industry writer and principal of Erin Harrington Communications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.