Virtually every public, commercial and multi-dwelling building uses security systems services. Add ground-breaking innovations and rising crime and it’s unsurprising the sector is booming.
- Security systems services market is worth £1.4bn and growing rapidly at 11.8% a year – IBISWorld
- Internet of things is creating new revenue opportunities in home security, with 7% of homes worldwide expected to own at least one smart security device by 2022 –Futuresource Consulting
- Franchises typically install CCTV, intruder alarms, fire systems and electronic access control, with some primary locksmiths
- Most franchisees take on managerial roles, although locksmiths might be more hands-on
Virtually every home and business across the UK has some combination of security measures in place – like door locks, safe deposit boxes, CCTV, intruder alarms and electronic access control.
Many businesses also have security systems serviced periodically, giving franchisees in this sector the chance to build considerable repeat business.
And the rise of service-based models is creating still more opportunities for recurring revenue. Hardware requirements have been reduced as cloud-managed platforms charge minimal up-front costs, with customers instead of paying monthly, flexible subscriptions.
Security franchises typically also provide fire safety systems, which are even more recession-resilient and fruitful as a source of repeat custom. Anyone responsible for managing a commercial, public or residential building has a legal obligation to install and periodically service equipment like fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
The industry has traditionally faced a ‘grudge purchase’ problem: where buyers were reluctant to upgrade systems because there was zero measurable return on investment. Yes, criminals were deterred by visible surveillance cameras, but thefts and attendant losses avoided couldn’t be quantified, nor included on the balance sheet.
But this equation has changed. Modern security systems can now achieve benefits beyond security improvements – creating operational efficiencies and improving customer experience to name two.
Combined with security cameras, for instance, analytics software can give retailers commercial intelligence. Footfall counting, heat mapping and queue analysis can help them optimise store layout and staff deployment, among other things.
Cutting-edge access control, meanwhile, can integrate with HVAC systems to optimise energy efficiency according to building occupancy. And an alarms upgrade can reduce costly and disruptive false alarms. Other transformative innovations include facial recognition and artificial intelligence-driven software.
The internet of things has given fresh impetus to the home security market, with security products an important driver in the smart home market.
“Not only is the security and monitoring segment shipping in high volume, but it also boasts the highest average prices per unit,” said Filipe Oliveira, market analyst at Futuresource Consulting. “Our forecasts suggest it will be knocking on the door of $10bn (£7bn) in trade value for 2018.”
Installers can also help homeowners, as well as businesses, configure connected systems and devices to maximise resilience against cybersecurity threats.
Is a security franchise for me?
Franchisees in the security and fire sector usually take on managerial roles. Recruiting and managing a team of qualified engineers, you’ll more likely need experience in, or at least a talent for, dispensing managerial responsibilities, rather than sector-specific qualifications and experience.
You’ll probably also be tasked with attracting new customers and nurturing existing relationships within your territory. A strong background in sales – ideally spanning both account management and in winning new business – is, therefore, a likely prerequisite.
Franchisors typically also favour those with interpersonal, networking, communication, organisational and problem-solving skills.
An investment in the region of £35,000-£45,000 will usually be enough to recruit your first engineer and start trading. One highly respected security franchise says its franchisees often generate sales in excess of £50,000 per month, rising to £1 million per annum for multi-van operations.
Your role in a locksmith franchise might be more hands-on, although experience in the discipline will still probably be unnecessary. Training in key-cutting and other aspects of the locksmith trade will likely be provided by the franchisor.
One locksmith franchise says annual earnings above £70,000 are realistic at an investment of £25,000 plus VAT.
The structure of security franchises
Security franchises typically install security systems – sitting between manufacturers and security departments deploying them in the supply chain.
Because the systems complement and, increasingly, connect with one another, a site’s needs must be considered holistically. Franchisees must ascertain the client’s circumstances –budget, site layout and dimensions, their requirements – then specify an appropriate combination of systems. Then they install the systems and, potentially, generate further, recurring revenues through maintenance/service contracts.
This is why installation firms don’t typically install CCTV, intruder alarms, access control or fire systems exclusively, but instead do most or all of them. And installing multiple different systems in a single building can make individual projects quite lucrative.
These businesses benefit from scale, proven business models and well-established brands. Security franchises also have the pedigree and marketing reach to generate business from large national accounts with major brands.
Their size also gives them bulk-buying power, which could mean favourable terms with suppliers. This will benefit your profit margin and mean you can pitch cost-competitive quotes to prospective customers.
Other benefits should include an exclusive territory, marketing and social media support, accounting and other general business support, plus operating manuals and online technical resources. Business cards, branded uniforms and a liveried van will help you leverage the brand.
Some security franchises are primarily locksmiths, but even then often have additional income streams in CCTV, intruder alarms and access control.
Locksmith franchises typically offer training in key cutting, which you’ll likely do with specialised equipment within your van – serving as both as a mobile workshop and billboard advertisement. You’ll also learn how to open, pick, drill, replace and repair a variety of locks, and perhaps install digital locking systems too.
Many in the industry have long bemoaned the scourge of rogue operators. With regulations less stringent than for gas or electrical installers, it’s perhaps advisable to only buy a franchise that’s approved by the National Security Inspectorate.