04
Aug

APX Alarm Security Solutions Inc. Receives J. D. Power and Associates “Outstanding Customer Service Experience” Recognition

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Provo, UT (PRWEB) August 4, 2008 — APX Alarm Security Solutions has been recognized for call center operation customer satisfaction excellence under the J.D. Power and Associates Certified Call Center Program(SM). This distinction acknowledges a strong commitment from the APX Alarm Security Solutions call center operation to provide “An Outstanding Customer Service Experience.”

APX Alarm Security Solutions’ call center operation, located in Provo, Utah, handles nearly 1.5 million telephone calls, faxes and e-mails from customers annually. To become certified, the call center operations successfully passed a detailed audit of their recruiting, training, employee incentives, quality assurance capabilities, and management roles and responsibilities. As part of its evaluation, J.D. Power and Associates conducted a random survey of APX Alarm Security Solutions customers who recently contacted its call center.

According to J.D.Power and Associates, APX Alarm Security Solutions has demonstrated its keen focus on providing highly satisfying customer service by surpassing rigorous standards to achieve certification. Call center customers are particularly pleased with the courtesy, knowledge and concern of customer service representatives, who are clearly a key asset to the success of the call center operation.

For certification status, a call center must also perform within the top 20 percent of customer service scores, which are based on benchmarks established in J.D. Power and Associates’ cross-industry customer satisfaction research. The evaluation criteria includes: courtesy; knowledge; concern for the customer; usefulness of the information provided; convenience of operating hours; ease of reaching a representative; and timely resolution.

“Our goal from the outset of creating APX Alarm was to be the very best in our industry,” said Todd Pedersen, CEO of APX Alarm Security Solutions. “This certification is a great indicator that we are on our way toward that goal.”

The Call Center Certification Program was launched by J.D. Power and Associates in 2004 to evaluate overall customer satisfaction with call centers and to help call centers in various industries increase their efficiency and effectiveness by establishing best practices for handling service calls.

There are more than 75,000 call centers in North America and an estimated 125,000 worldwide that help customers with product and service questions across a multitude of industries, ranging from credit cards, financial services, investment services, utilities, service warranties and insurance to telecommunications, healthcare and office products. APX Alarm Security Solutions received the award at ceremonies held on Saturday, Aug. 2 attended by nearly 1,000 employees and members of the media.

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30
Nov

Apx Alarm Introductory Video

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This video is an introduction to the Apx Alarm security system. 

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29
Nov

Apx Alarm 2007 Summer – Over 125,000 Satisfied Customers

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From Security System NewsPROVO, Utah–In business as a full-service alarm company for only about four years, ApxAlarm is a young company by any standard. Among the growing ranks of the summer-model alarm companies, however, in sales/security terms, Apx is an elder statesman–the model, in some ways, for the summer-model surge. Apx has been around the longest and generates the most accounts annually.

This summer was no different. Apx sold and installed 125,000 gross (119,000 net) accounts this summer, coming pretty close to its goal of 130,000 accounts. It sold off a “fraction” of these accounts, said Jack Inbar, Apx COO. Like its competitors, Apx considers its numbers record-breaking. “I don’t think it’s ever been done [selling 125,000 accounts] in such a short period of time,” Inbar said.

Apx’s 2007 numbers are up from 90,000 sold in 2006 and 44,000 accounts sold in 2005. Inbar said he didn’t think the company could sustain that rate of growth year over year, but said he expects the company to be able to sell between 150,000 and 200,000 accounts next year “and continue to do that on a regular basis for many years to come. It’s a great market and it’s not saturated.” Apx currently owns 143,000 accounts, with third-party monitoring from the new CMS (it sold a number of accounts in 2006 and 2005). Inbar said 80 percent of the contracts sold this summer were for a 60-month term and said the “average credit score” for new 2007 customers was 700.

Apx is already recruiting for the summer 2008 season. Inbar credits their success this year to their customer service and proactive programs such as the team he oversees that follows up on every alarm dispatch. They also check in on accounts with lack of usage, excessive signals, and accounts that do not have signals.

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02
Oct

Apx Alarm System Test

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02
Sep

Fire Test of Apx System

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04
Aug

Apx Alarm TV story

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07
Jul

ApxAlarm aims for 130,000 accounts this summer

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PROVO, Utah–ApxAlarm–which emerged as a major player in the home security market in 2006 by generating upwards of 90,000 accounts–is well into its 2007 summer selling season, and Apx executives say they’re on track to sell 130,000 accounts this summer.

Looking beyond this year, the company is considering expanding into Mexico and abroad.

Apx’s business model utilizes a compressed selling season, whereby most of its accounts are generated by door-to-door sales between the months of May and August.

“We started selling a little earlier this year at the beginning of April [with about 20 percent of the sales and technical staff in place],” said Jack Inbar, ApxAlarm’s vice president of operations.

Apx opened about 25 of its 78 offices in April. “This enabled us to work out any kinks we might have in the first few week. It’s a great way for us to begin the summer,” he said.

As of mid June, all 78 offices in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, were up and running. Inbar said Apx has approximately 1,500 sales reps and 800 technicians on board, with about 75 to 80 percent of the staff returning from last year.

While the industry has taken note of ApxAlarm’s sales volume, the company’s main focus, said Inbar, “is superior service and we think this is evidenced by our attrition rate from last year.”

Inbar said the annualized “attrition rate by pool,” for the last year, not including any 2007 summer sales, is “less than six percent,” which, he noted, compares to an industry average in the double digits. Inbar said the company has moved to a 60-month contract. “North of 75 percent of our contracts are 60 months, which adds tremendous value to the portfolio and certainly helps reduce attrition.”

Apx wants to have its customer service call center recognized by JD Powers and Associates by December 2007, a recognition its competitor Brink’s Home Security has received for several years.

It’s all theoretical at this point, but ApxAlarm owners are taking a close look at expanding into Mexico and Australia.

Inbar said the company is uniquely positioned to hit the ground running in Spanish-speaking and other non-English speaking countries because many of its employees are bilingual. A majority of ApxAlarm sales people and technicians come from Brigham Young University, and have completed an LDS (Latter Day Saints) mission, many in foreign countries.

Students receive intensive language training at the LDS Missionary Training Center. “With today’s technology we can [expand outside the U.S. and Canada] and we have a ready pool of sales people and technicians who have done a mission in a Spanish-speaking country and are fluent in Spanish,” he said.

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01
Apr

ApxAlarm expands building, staffing

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PROVO, Utah–ApxAlarm, an independent residential security company that made its mark last year by generating upwards of 90,000 new accounts (see “Apx generates accounts” in the November 2006 issue of Security Systems News), has expanded its data center and doubled its inside sales staff. Underway for about three months, the project was completed March 5.

“We added another 27,000 square feet in a separate building across the street,” in the office park where Apx is located, said Jack Inbar, Apx vice president of operations. “We have dedicated fiber connecting the two locations.”

Apx is a “summer model” alarm company that uses a compressed selling cycle where most of its sales are generated through door-to-door sales between May and September.

The inside sales staff, on the other hand, is year-round.

“We will have 67 inside sales people,” up from 30, said Alex Dunn, vice president of business development for Apx.

The new space will increase ApxAlarm’s “capacity by 420 seats, which will accommodate the growth in our data entry, customer service, technical support, contract administration, scheduling and inside sales departments,” Dunn explained.

As part of the expansion, Apx upgraded its database from SQL 2000 to SQL 2005. Apx also installed a new Avaya phone system that includes capabilities such as, “when a customer calls in, even before we pick up the phone we can identify who is calling and the current status of their account and route them to the right customer service representative from the very beginning,” Inbar explained.

Apx did not release the cost of the project, other than to characterize it as a significant investment. “It’s all about the customer experience

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25
Nov

ApxAlarm generates accounts and emotions

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PROVO, Utah–“Who are these guys?” If you hear that question in a conversation about home security, the guys in question will likely be ApxAlarm. A new player in the market, ApxAlarm is generating a lot of accounts and a lot of attention this year.

This summer, ApxAlarm executives say they sold 90,000 accounts, putting them, in terms of annual account generation, right up there with industry stalwarts Brink’s, Protection One and ADT.

“Assuming ApxAlarm realizes their target of 90 thousand accounts this year, they will clearly be the third largest residential sales and installation force in the United States, trailing only ADT and Brink’s,” said Michael Barnes, a partner in Barnes Associates, an investment banking and consulting firm that specializes in the security alarm industry. “ApxAlarm has established a capability that is around one-half that of the industry’s two largest players.”

ApxAlarm’s business model utilizes a compressed selling cycle. Almost all of the sales are generated in door-to-door sales during the four-month period between May and September. This model works for several reasons, said Keith Nelleson, executive vice president and chief financial officer of ApxAlarm; it allows the company to spend the other eight months of the year recruiting and training a sales force, and it avoids the burnout common in any door-to-door sales job.

“Eighty to 85 percent of the sales people who start with us stay for the entire season,” said Todd Pederson, chief executive officer and president of the company.

ApxAlarm is not the only home security company to use the summer sales model, but they’re the most successful. Pinnacle Security, which is headquartered in the same executive business park as Apx, is an ADT dealer using the same model, Nelleson said. He estimated that Pinnacle generated about 35,000 accounts this summer. First Line Security is another Utah-based company with a similar approach.

The financial community has taken an interest in ApxAlarm. This summer, the company sold a 50-percent stake to three private equity firms, Goldman Sachs and Jupiter Partners, both of New York, and Peterson Partners of Salt Lake City.

Eric Scheuermann, a partner with Jupiter Partners, said, “It’s a business model we like with lots of potential to grow and we liked the integrity of the Apx management team.” Apx CEO Pedersen noted, “Goldman came out from a lending perspective only; 75 days later they owned 30 percent of the company.”

Ray Gross, chief executive officer of wholesale monitoring company Security Associates International, works closely with Jack Inbar, ApxAlarms’ vice president of operations. He said his company has an excellent relationship with Apx. “They produce very good accounts and we are a major purchaser of their accounts. They’ve delivered on everything they’ve said,” Gross said.

Not all of the attention ApxAlarm has attracted has been positive, however. Protection One, Brink’s, and some other major players have complained about unfair or unethical sales tactics by ApxAlarm salespeople. ADT is the exception among the big three home security companies. Spokeswoman Ann Lindstrom said ADT “hasn’t experienced complaints about ApxAlarm’s sales tactics.”

On August 25, Brink’s filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, for $900,000, claiming that ApxAlarm stole 47 accounts.

Both Eric Griffen, general counsel for Protection One, and Dave Simon, spokesman for Brink’s Home Security, said that ApxAlarm employees are targeting their customers.

Griffin said “customers call us in a state of confusion. We have had several come up to customers without any identification. Sometimes they’ll say they’re with Honeywell … we’ve heard reports, that they say, ‘We’re here to upgrade your equipment.’ We’ve also heard them say they’re with Protection One or ‘We bought Protection One.'”

“It’s pretty clear they’re either being trained formally or informally at the corporate level or at the street level because the [reported behavior of these salespeople] is too widespread and too geographically dispersed,” Griffen said.

Simon said Brink’s has had more than 40 complaints from customers, but he suspects there are many more instances. He said Apx salespeople are showing up at Brink’s customers’ doors, representing themselves as being from Brinks. “They’re coming unannounced,” he said, “representing themselves as technicians and then asking to make these kinds of changes, or recommending they make these kinds of changes [to their security systems].

This is not a situation that’s going to “break Brink’s,” Simon said, “it’s an ethics issue.”

In late September, Protection One was preparing a letter detailing more than 55 complaints it had about ApxAlarm. “It would be our desire to resolve this situation without resorting to litigation, but are prepared to take all appropriate actions to stop these unethical activities,” Griffen said.

In Provo, the reaction to the lawsuit–and to claims of unfair tactics–was incredulity.

Apx CEO Pederson said, “We invite anyone to come out to see how we do our business from start to finish. Everyone who comes here says we have the best controls and systems they’ve seen.”

This summer, Apx knocked on one million doors, Pederson said. If the company were telling sales people to target competitors, “they wouldn’t get 55 calls complaining about salespeople, they’d get 55,000 calls.”

Nine regional managers—three in Rexburg, Idaho; one in Edmonton, Canada, and six in Provo and six to 10 sales managers who report to the regional managers—head up the recruiting and training process. Many of the sales reps are returning year after year and most of the new recruits are friends of returning sales reps. The sales reps complete 40 to 60 hours of training over the course of the summer. “We’ll stack that up against any of our competitors,” said Alex Dunn, vice president of business development.

Sales and technical employees must complete a checklist of training topics (product knowledge, basic door knocking, overcoming objections) before they can go out and sell.

Pedersen said they have no interest in contractually interfering with competitors, but he said salespeople knock on all doors, regardless of whether there’s a competitor’s sign or not.

Further, the Apx execs passionately believe that their systems, which feature cellular (analog-based for now, but Apx said they intend to go out and switch all accounts to GSM in the future) and two-way voice, are better than the industry standard. Apx salespeople are trained on what they consider to be the numerous benefits of their systems over traditional systems.

They point out that fewer than 20 percent of the 90,000 accounts sold this summer were customers who had an existing home security system. They note that in cases where customers decided to switch to Apx, the customers were paying more for Apx than for their previous system. In 99 percent of cases, according to Jack Inbar, vice president of operations, switching customers are paying more. Apx customers pay at least $39 per month, and it’s $45 for the most common monitoring package.

Pre- and post-installation surveys are what Apx executives point to as their bottom line quality control. When a person signs up to be an Apx customer anywhere in the country, the salesperson calls the data center and the customer answers a series of questions. Beyond the basic personal and credit information and outlining the terms of the monitoring contract, during the pre-install survey the customer is asked if they are aware that Apx is a Honeywell Security Products dealer and is not owned by the Honeywell Corporation. They are asked if there is an existing security system in the home, and if it is monitored. They are also asked if they are “aware that ApxAlarm is not affiliated with your current monitoring company, and you are responsible for your existing monitoring contract?”

“We know if there’s been a problem from someone through our survey process. We hear from Jack [Inbar] … If we start to see a trend, you know there’s a problem. If we see that trend we go and we take care of it,” Nelleson said.

All members of the executive team say they believe Brink’s is the best in the business, particularly with customer service, and they say they’ve tried to copy the Brink’s model in many ways.

Apx executives feel the complaints from its competitors are overblown and the Brink’s lawsuit is driven by fear of competition.

Sean O’Keefe, an Apx consultant, said new companies have previously changed the way home security has done business. The last time it happened, he said, was when Brink’s brought the mass marketing model to the industry.

“I opened the third branch that Brink’s had and was their first national sales manager. It was 1983. In those days Brink’s was a revolution and not a positive revolution for the security industry,” O’Keefe said. “Brink’s was the first company to come along and drop prices from at least $1,000 to $95 to put a system in.”

“I had to attend meetings in all the cities where we were opening. I had to attend not to participate, but because if someone from Brink’s wasn’t there, the entire meeting was just about ‘How can we get Brink’s out of town? We can’t compete with these people.'”

Brink’s was able to succeed in this venture, O’Keefe said, because “they had deep pockets and were willing to change the way systems were sold.”

What will the future bring? Barnes predicted, “ApxAlarm will find the integration into providing monitoring and maintenance services challenging. It is not unusual for the difficulties associated with this side of the business to be underestimated. Carefully building this capability while at the same time maintaining full control over their growth on the sales and installation side will require highly skilled management. Assuming this process is managed well, we could very well see ApxAlarm and others like them quickly becoming some of the largest alarm companies in the United States.”

ApxAlarm executives believe their model will succeed, and they expect plenty of competition.

“This is why we challenge ourselves as group to be better–with sales, service, monitoring. We, too, as a company will face similar problems [from a new company] in six months or a year or two years from now. Someone else is going to be knocking at our door, so we want to create customer loyalty unparalled by anyone else,” Inbar said.

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01
Nov

Apx Alarm Executive Team

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Todd Pederson, president and CEO, and Keith Nelleson, executive vice president and chief financial officer, are childhood friends from Idaho who both went to Brigham Young University. Pederson founded APX Marketing in 1992. Nelleson joined Pederson at Apx in 1996 after graduate school and working Deloitte & Touche for a few years. In 1999, they started ApxAlarm as a dealer for Protection One. After that, ApxAlarm became an RS&I dealer (a master dealer for ADT), and then became a Monitronics dealer. In the last year, Nelleson and Pederson have moved ApxAlarm into a full-service alarm company that services its own accounts. Together with Jack Inbar, Nelleson and Pederson own 50 percent of the company. The other 50 percent is owned by Goldman Sachs of New York, which owns 30 percent, and Jupiter Partners of New York and Peterson Partners of Salt Lake City, which own the other 20 percent.

Jack Inbar, vice president of operations has a background in the financial (as a portfolio manager) and alarm industries. He worked for Monitronics and Alarm One in all phases of operations. He designed the software that integrates all of the various functions of operations, and he oversees a state-of-the-art data center that includes customer service, data entry, retention and collections. Inbar, Pederson and Nelleson own 50 percent of the company.

Shawn Brenchley, senior vice president, previously owned SafeHome Security, which operated as a sub-dealer program within the authorized Monitronics dealer program, where built a nationwide service department. He joined Apx in 2004 and is focused on growing the service business.

Alex Dunn, vice president, business development, joined ApxAlarm this year. He headed up the financing deal Apx recently cut with Goldman Sachs and the other equity groups. He previously was the co-founder and CEO of LavaStorm Technologies, a telecommunications software company. Most recently, he served as deputy chief of staff for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely Republican presidential candidate in 2008. At Apx, he’s developing new sales channels outside of the summer door-to-door program.

Josh Houser, VP Service and Inside Sales, came to ApxAlarm from Monitronics, where he was director of service and technical services. At Apx, he runs a year-round service team of 77.

Sean O’Keefe, has been hired as a consultant for ApxAlarm as they begin “looking at doing some strategic acquisitions.” An industry veteran, O’Keefe was with Brink’s Home Security for many years.

The corporate office houses 200 full-time year-round employees. In the summer, the company adds 200 to 300 employees who work at headquarters to support sales technicians working in the field.

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