Tim Creenan learned early, after establishing Amherst Alarm near Buffalo, N.Y., in 1984, that success in maintaining long-lasting and profitable relationships with homebuilders relied upon the ability to provide them with a wide range of electronics systems that buyers want in new homes.
“We started out as a traditional security system company. As we began doing more and more work with homebuilders, they were asking us to do other things besides just the security systems — things other people didn't want to do at the time,” Creenan said.
The company was soon selling and installing a complete portfolio of electronics: phone jacks, television cable, speaker wire, intercom systems, home audio, home theater, home automation systems, and built-in vacuums. Amherst Alarm serves a wide area of western New York, employing 65 people including 22 installers and service technicians. The company heavily promotes its BEAM Built-in Vacuum product line along with security products through builder home shows, Parade of Homes builder events, and when mailing out security monitoring bills to their customer base.
The Amherst Alarm showroom also serves as an electronics design center for dozens of Buffalo area builders who direct their buyers to the facility to select electronics products for their new home.
Reasonable Cost and Built-in Convenience
“They might think they're coming in to look at security systems and then they see the BEAM Central Vacuum display and all the other things we can do for them so it helps open up doors for us,” said Creenan, adding that many buyers come in with the misconception that built-in vacuums are costly and difficult to install.
“The vast majority of people think it's very expensive. Relative to other things in the house, it is not,” Creenan said. “We explain the cost is reasonable but also that it's going to be the last vacuum they ever buy. And that's when people's ears perk up.”
Efficient and Profitable Installation
With careful installation planning, central vacuum installation is a smooth process, Creenan noted. “If the job is well planned and you have the right tools, the work is easy to do. You can't just walk in and do it. You've got to plan where things are going to go and make sure the other trades on the job site know where you are going to go so that you end up with a profitable installation,” he added.
Creenan also makes sure his installation crews are trained to install every product Amherst Alarm offers. “So on one truck, the crew can install the security system, the central vacuum system, and/or the camera system,” he said. “By doing things that way the efficiency helps increase our profit margin.”