When it comes to business security systems, one of the most significant factors to consider is also one of the hardest to nail down: the cost.
Like any other investment, it's important to know just how much a solid security system is going to set you back.
However, most providers don't disclose costs upfront, instead requiring you to request a quote.
Security on a Budget
If you don't have a lot of flexibility in your business security system budget, the least expensive route is almost certainly going to be a DIY solution. A DIY (or “do-it-yourself”) system is one you compile and install on your own.
All of the core components of a solid security system, including CCTV video cameras, intrusion alarms, key panel access and motion sensors, can be purchased online directly.
While you'll miss out on more advanced features (including 24/7 monitoring), a system you build and install yourself will often save you money.
That said, don't expect to assemble a well-rounded DIY system for less than about $500.
Also, be sure to account for the time needed to install and maintain the system. After all, your time is valuable, too.
Most business owners will prefer to hire a professional security provider (such as ADT, or Protection 1) to install, monitor and maintain their security system. This means you'll need to gather and evaluate quotes.
The process of gathering quotes is daunting. It's a time-suck, for one. It's also tough to create an apples-to-apples comparison, as companies are fond of "branding" their services. Everyone will present available options a little differently.
However, the alternative (getting a single quote in the interest of saving time and annoyance) leaves you open to the possibility of paying too much for too little.
To save yourself time and money in the long run, following these tips as you gather quotes:
- Ask questions, and keep asking until you get specific answers. If you don't understand a line-item in a quote, insist on a full explanation.
- If you know specific features you want included (like CCTV cameras, for example), say so when requesting the quote.
- Be blunt with your sales representatives. If the price is too high or the offering to sparse, tell them. Don't be shy about being frank.
- Ask for discounts, especially on installation charges. If you're being provided with a custom quote, there should be room for negotiation.
The Cost of Picking a Pro
As should be expected, the costs go up with this option, as do the available features.
Just how much do the costs go up? That depends on the options selected. Professional installation costs range from as little as $100 for businesses with very small square footage to $2000 or more for larger spaces.
Some companies include the cost of the equipment in the installation fee (which, of course, increases installation costs), while some opt to charge a leasing fee for the equipment.
Either way, you should plan on a minimum cost of $300-500 annually for equipment.
Finally, if 24/7 monitoring is included (and it should be), that, too, will incur a monthly/annual fee.
The total cost for monitoring can range from $50-$250+ per month, depending on the level of service selected.
The Right Plan
To keep costs as low as possible while also keeping your business secure, it's important that you pick the right security plan. Take some time to consider your business's top security risks.
It's possible a very basic system will provide all the protection you need, in which case there's no sense in paying for every bell and whistle.
However, if an advanced, costly feature greatly decreases your risks, the expense may be warranted.
Your sales reps can advise you on the features you need, but be sure to carefully evaluate their suggestions.
If you are candid about your desire to curb costs while also getting the features you need, a good sales representative will point you in the right direction.