In the year 1990, on the brink of the holiday season, a new film featuring home-invasion, two dumb-witted burglars and one precocious child hit box office gold–bringing in $17,081,997 (USD) in 1,202 theaters worldwide on opening weekend. It became an instant classic, with iconic one-liners recited around the Christmas dinner table, several sequels and even a Nintendo game, all based on one big “what if.”
“Home Alone” isn’t the only famous Hollywood spin on a security breach. A Wikipedia article with a list of films featuring home invasions tops out at well over 200.
And while there seems to be a strange demand from moviegoers for films about home and commercial security, there’s a surprisingly small amount of homeowners who actually have security systems to protect their home.
Forbes reports that while “over a million burglaries occur in the United States every year, 75% of homeowners don’t have a security system in place.”
On other hand, businesses certainly prioritize security. A Trustwave report finds that “more than two-thirds of organizations consider security vulnerability testing to be a best practice” while the video surveillance market size is predicted to hit 63 million USD in 2023.
So is starting a security company a good idea? Given the huge market growth potential and number of residential and commercial customers without any kind of security system in place, starting a security company is an excellent move.
But what are the requirements to start a security company? And how much does it cost to start a security company? In this blog, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to start a security company, from initial planning to how to run your own security business day-to-day.
To start, you’ll need some funding to get your business off of the ground.
How Much Capital Do You Need For a Security Company?
The good news is that starting a security company is relatively low cost compared with some of the other types of trades businesses out there.
The actual startup costs can vary greatly depending on whether you purchase an existing business or franchise or start your own security company. For example, buying a security business can be anywhere between $68K and $110K, but if you start up an alarm company on your own and do all of the work yourself, you can get started for $10K to $50K.
Steps to Start a Successful Security Business
Once you’ve secured funding and enough money to cover start-up costs, you need to take careful, planned steps to get your business up and running. Careful planning and preparation before rushing into business sets you up for success no matter how fast you grow. Plus, the more you plan ahead from the start, the easier it will be to scale your business later.
1. Develop a Business Plan
Start by developing a business plan that details how you’ll allocate all your resources across the business. Planning how you’ll spend your initial investment and balance profit and loss is vital to maintain cash flow. But, you’ll also need a plan that covers the smaller details. For example, how many staff will you need to complete the amount of work you’ll consistently take on? How much will you pay them? Which tools and equipment do you need on hand to complete jobs and projects? And where will you store equipment, complete office work and keep your vans when they aren’t in the field? You should also include results of any preliminary research you’ve completed in preparation to launch your business, such as market analysis,competitive analysis, etc. Plus, you’ll need a plan for marketing and sales.
Another important part of your business plan? Setting goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
KPIs are metrics that you regularly track to determine how well you’re meeting business goals. They also help you measure the overall health of your business.
Some common security company KPIs include things such as cost per incident, number of incidents per device and mean time between failures (MTBF). You might also want to measure things like technician time to complete service, cost per job and even time from invoice to payment. All of these factors play into the overall productivity and profitability of your security company.
To create strong KPIs, first, make sure the goals you set are smart (no, we’re not talking about intelligence here). SMART is an acronym used to describe business goals that are:
- Time based
Make sure any goals you set meet the criteria above so you can focus on managing resources and properly aligning them with your overall business strategy.
2. Choose Your Specialty
For example, you can specialize in security systems like closed-circuit television (CCTV) or access control systems for commercial and industrial customers to start. As you grow, you might also want to focus on winning larger electrical contracts for new commercial builds or even government projects.
If you plan to go the residential route, focus more on residential low-voltage work such as installing or repairing doorbells, garage door openers, home security sensors, thermostats, or landscape lighting. Or, specialize even further and focus on installing and maintaining fire alarms and protection.
3. Get Clear with Your Niche
Niching your services is a great way to avoid competing with too many other security businesses in the same areas and allows for the creation of a specific customer base, which provides many opportunities for recurring revenue and repeat business.
The clearer you are with your niche, the easier it is to plan successful marketing that targets your ideal customer and speaks to the specific pain points and challenges that you can help them solve.
4. Assess Finance and Financing Options
If you’re starting a security company from scratch, you’ll need to secure funding from friends or family or banks. Banks will usually provide a loan to get started with the expectation that you’ll pay them back over time plus interest.
You can also secure financing through industry-specific lenders or dealer programs. The benefit of both is that they may have a better understanding of your business model compared with friends or family, especially if you plan to focus on recurring monthly revenue (RMR).
5. Consider Insurance Options
Insurance can end up being one of the biggest initial expenses associated with starting your business. Be sure to include room for this in your financial planning.
It’s best to have general liability insurance, insurance that covers employee injury, and property and auto insurance. It is also worthwhile to get insurance that covers tools and equipment so that you can easily replace anything stolen, lost, or broken.
Give yourself time to shop around so that you can find the best price and avoid overspending on insurance. If you’re not sure where to look, a quick Google search can do the trick.
6. Take Care of he Legal Matters
Don’t forget to check your local regulations to understand what type of licenses you’ll need, as it can vary depending on where you live and operate. You’ll likely also need to get a business permit.
On top of that, you may need to register your business with the government. When in doubt, visit your government’s website and look for information on registering a new business.
Finally, be sure that anyone you employ also has the required training, licensing and certifications to complete the specific type of security work you’re focusing on.
7. Establish Your Brand
Now that you’ve covered the essential, but not always exciting, pieces of starting a security company-,it’s time to tap into your creative side and establish your brand.
Your brand is a combination of things like your business name, your logo, website, colors, uniforms and even how you talk and interact with customers online and in person.
When choosing a name for a business, brainstorm ideas and tell potential customers exactly what you do, right off the bat. You can also add part of your family name to the business name if you’d like. Anything that can be added to your name to personalize the business a little is a great way to differentiate and help you stand out from the competition.
Next, you’ll need to set up a website. There are free tools out there like Wix, WordPress, Weebly, etc. that allow you to set up a website for free on your own. You can also hire an individual or work with a marketing company to develop a website for you. At a minimum, your website should list basic contact information and some information about the services you offer.
8. Market Your Business
Get ready to show off your brand and get your security company in front of potential customers! Marketing your business is vital to your success. It helps build brand awareness, win new business and generate revenue through new sales.
At a basic level, websites serve as an important marketing tool. It will help you show up online when potential customers search for a security company near them. Plus, you can ask happy customers to leave online reviews and share their experience with your business with others so that potential customers might flock to your business, simply through positive word of mouth.
But there's much more to marketing than your website and online reviews. The world of marketing is big, and it can be daunting to decide where to start, especially when you don't have a lot of time. Luckily, we have a blog on five tips to find time for marketing, so be sure to check it out!
Tools to Consider as a Security Business
Congratulations! You’ve got an office, a warehouse, a website and even your very first paying customer–you’re officially in business.
From here on out, you’ll likely face challenges as you start to take on more work. The good news is that with every challenge comes triumph and progress toward growing your business.
Like many security companies, you might start out running your daily operations with paper and pen, whiteboards, or spreadsheets. While this will suffice while you’re still small and starting out, it’s crucial to think about how well those manual processes will sustain you as you start to grow. Here’s a hint: They won’t.
In order to scale to new heights, you’ll need to cut down on inefficiencies and work smarter, not harder. The key to this is using a good digital tool that supports all of your work functions and allows you to manage everything in one central place. Job management software is a perfect solution to managing all of the moving parts of your business. Check out how it can help with functions such as inventory management, scheduling and maintenance planning.
Inventory Management–Import supplier catalogs and quickly group items together so that you can assign materials to jobs with just the click of a button. Managing inventory digitally also makes it easy for you to understand the cost implications.
See if you’re sitting on unused inventory, and as a result, avoid overspending by unnecessarily ordering parts you already have in stock. You can even set up alerts to let you know when specific stock levels are low.
Scheduling and Dispatch–Schedule and dispatch field staff from a single dashboard so the right technician is sent to the right job every time. Designate specific technicians for calls in particular areas or dispatch based on the technician's expertise with certain assets, customers, or types of jobs.
Invoicing and Payment–Auto-populate invoices and avoid doubling your work every time you invoice a new customer. Some software tools even give technicians the power to create and send on-site invoices. Your staff not only saves time, but you also ensure invoices are sent to customers as soon as possible, which in turn helps speed up payment.
Maintenance planning–Get ahead of visits you need to make to maintain assets in the field so that you can allocate proper staff, time and tools to complete routine maintenance. Know when you’ll have income streaming in from maintenance calls so that you can better predict revenue.
Starting a security company is no easy feat–in fact, starting any company at all is a challenge. However, the reward that comes from hard work, grit, tenacity and maybe a little bit of luck, is well worth it in the end. When the going gets rough, all you have to do is picture your feet in the sand, margarita in hand and the pure satisfaction that comes from being your own boss.