The inspection, maintenance, testing monitoring (ITM) of IoT-based communication systems will be a huge market opportunity for NECA electrical contractors who are willing to make the upfront investment in trained personnel and certifications. That was the message Kurt Brinkman, founder of Intrepid Electronics Systems, Oakland, Calif., emphasized in his session, “Balancing Service Work as a Low Voltage Contractor.” Specializing in the maintenance of fire alarm systems for 22 years, he says ITM work now accounts for 40% of his company’s total revenues. While the company does new installations and tenant improvement and fire alarm upgrades, the ITM work is a major focus.
The company also installs and maintains sophisticated emergency responder radio coverage systems (ERRCS), also called public safety DAS, and mass notification systems used to alert the general public of emergency conditions. These systems typically send data up to the cloud, which Intrepid’s customers can download or monitor remotely.
For electrical contractors considering the service market, Brinkman cautions that the upfront investment in trained personnel with the proper certifications may take several years to produce a profit. He says the competition can be tough, with large companies like Siemens, Honeywell, and ADT servicing equipment and “trunk slammers” also getting a piece of the action.
Brinkman says it’s important for customers to aggressively market their capabilities in the service arena so customers know they are a capable resource and urges other contractors to hire and train the best service personnel they can find. This is important, he explains, because these employees have the most direct customer contact, and they can have a huge amount of impact on a company’s brand. “Field people are your best salespeople,” he says. “They are the face of your company.”
Providing training is another key marketing tactic for Intrepid Electronics, and customers expect his salespeople to have current certifications for all of the equipment they install and maintain. “Do a lot of lunch and learns,” Brinkman advises. “Consultants have trouble keeping up with anything. Bring technology to customers. You be the expert.”
He says that although the electrical construction market has been a good run over the past decade, it will eventually cycle down. When that happens, he says service work can provide a regular flow of revenue because it still needs to be done when the economy is soft. “We have had a nice long run,” he says. “When it ends, it’s nice to have reoccurring revenue from service work.”