Many security integration and monitoring companies train the employees on how to handle specific situations - dealing with a customer on a job site, working with a allied trade on an installation or negotiating with a vendor, to name a few.
For companies with central stations, the way their employees are trained to deal with customers when an alarm goes off or an event happens is crucial. But when the employees need to respond in specific ways to specific customers, their training becomes even more important.
At Pasco, Wa.-based Moon Security, the security integrator and central station has a number of different clients, including local school districts and the Oregon National Guard, who require specific processes when responding to alarms.
"We take that responsibility very seriously," says Tom Pitcher, general manager for Moon. The company spends a significant amount of time training its operators to respond appropriately to clients with specific sets of rules and protocols, including using a three-digit acronym for the client.
"We're trying to get top of the mind awareness," says Pitcher. "We have to make sure we are following [the procedures] to the T."
The company has at least 15 large clients with specific rules to follow, and when a call comes in from one of them, operators are trained to think, "OK, what are my rules?" and then know how this client is handled, says Pitcher.
Moon is also prepared to handle the requirements of the different states where it does business. Washington and Oregon both require licensing, and Pitcher is happy that Oregon requires CS operators to be certified. "Oregon was a really good place for us to start building our in-house central station training program," he says.
"We teach the Oregon course in-house," and they add in company-specific things, says Pitcher. "I have always been a big advocate for licensing and certification."
In Washington, new employees to the company go through the Washington ESA Apprenticeship program, a two-year, self-paced program with weekly safety trainings and monthly chapter exams. The state's apprenticeship coordinator and Training Director, Stella McDonald, keeps the company on track, says Pitcher. "She is right on the ball with needing to see progress reports."
When a new employee joins the company, they spend the first month training, then the next two months sitting with a senior operator on the floor. "At the end of 90 days, these folks know what they're doing," Pitcher says.
The company also does a fair amount of product-specific training, with vendors coming to the office multiple times per year. "They'll be here providing tech training as well as sales training," says Pitcher.
Moon employees have gone to visit with DMP, Silent Knight, First Alert and Sedona Office, to name a few.
Pitcher says that Mike Miller, president of Moon and a past president of ESA, had wanted to send employees to NTS courses in the past, and when one was available, they jumped on it. "When we saw NTS was coming into our backyard, it was phenomenal," says Pitcher, who sent two technicians to an NTS Certified Alarm/Security Technician - Level 1 course. "Mike's been pushing this for the past couple of years now."
When the employees came back, one of the technicians told Pitcher what he learned. "He thought it was high-quality. He didn't think he'd learn anything from it, but he did and know wants all the salespeople to go through it," says Pitcher. The tech said to him, "If we've got guys doing it the way they recommend in this class, we'll do it quicker and right the first time."
"I was really happy to hear that," says Pitcher.
Because the company takes training so seriously and wants to invest in its employees' careers, they've been able to maintain long-term relationships with their employees. "We invest in our people's careers because it's good for our business," says Pitcher.
"It makes us better, it makes our people better, and it makes our industry better. The way equipment and software changes, I don't see any other way to do business and do it right," he says.