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.Image Source: 1, 2
Top Business Security Companies
The process of selecting a provider for your business's security needs has the potential to be overwhelming. It's a big decision.Fortunately, there are a lot of good options. Of course, that reality is a double-edged sword.
Because you have several options, you'll have to look closely at each one to be sure you're picking the one that best suits your business.
To help with the selection process, below you will find some information about some of the top providers, as well as some tips on making your choice.
ADT is a well know name in both home and small business security. For small business owners, they are an excellent company to start your search.
They offer a wide variety of features, including the core basics mentioned above, as well as key panel locks, backup batteries (to keep the system up during power outages), remote access and monitoring, intercom systems, software to monitor business transactions, integrated commercial fire alarms and even remote control of your business' lights and electricity.
Additionally, they have a reputation for strong customer service and high reliability.
Even if you don't plan on going with ADT, we recommend that you get a quote from them to use as a reference against other quotes.
Their plans are reasonably priced and will give you a better idea of whether or not competing quotes represent a good balance of features versus cost.
Some of ADT's most popular products and services include:
- Home video surveillance
- Home fire protection
- Medical alert monitoring
- Home remote management
- Business intrusion detection
- Business CCTV
- Business electronic access
In addition to the large range of services offered by ADT, they also offer support to their customers 24/7 which helps to add another level of reassurance for customers.
ADT's Authorized Dealers Programme
The ADT Authorized Dealer Programme allows independent security dealers to install systems of a certain size. These will then be monitored by ADT from one of their control centers. There are now a large number of authorized dealers across the USA, meaning they are able to provide a local service to many businesses nationally.
When you install an ADT security system you must also take out a monitoring contract. This is the same for systems purchased directly from ADT and for those purchased from authorized dealers.
Protection 1 is something of a jack of all trades. They offer security systems for homes, as well as businesses of all sizes.
Their business security systems are particularly geared toward multi-site companies, allowing for cohesive security across multiple locations.
Like ADT and Tyco, they offer service nation-wide, but they also maintain local offices throughout the US in an effort to further emphasize strong customer support.
Features include those listed above. If your organization has multiple locations, we recommend that you consider Protection 1 as a provider.
TYCO Integrated Security
Tyco Integrated Security and ADT were actually different divisions of the same company prior to 2011.
That year, Tyco International, a Swiss security systems firm, split into three separate companies.
The separation didn't put the two companies at odds with one another, though. While ADT continues to focus on small business security solutions, Tyco aims to provide security for larger corporations.
All the features offered by ADT, listed above, are also offered by Tyco. Because Tyco places emphasis on larger business solutions, they are not the best fit for most small to medium sized businesses. However, if your organization is larger, you would do well to include Tyco in your search.
Local Security Companies
Regardless of where your business is based, there are more than likely local security companies in your area.
While these companies may not provide coast-to-coast service, don't let their smaller city, state or regional footprint keep you from including them in your search.
Most reputable local companies offer all the same features the bigger, national companies offer, so you needn't lower your standards. Often, going with a local firm has the potential to mean higher levels of customer service, and may mean lower costs.
We encourage you to carefully compare their services with those offered by national providers to be sure you're not missing out on key features.
One option that more than a few small business owners opt for, isn't a security company at all. It's you.
Many of the tools offered by security providers can be bought at your local Home Depot or online. That's right—you can set up your own security system by simply browsing Amazon.
While it might sound like an enormous undertaking, the core components of a solid commercial security system aren't all that difficult to install.
CCTV video cameras, motion sensors and intrusion alarms for doors and windows can all be purchased and set-up on the cheap, making this an attractive option for many small business owners.
Be aware, though, that you'll miss out on many of the advanced features offered by professional companies.
If you feel you need 24/7 monitoring, for example, or if you'd like a commercial fire alarm system installed at the same time, it is best to call in a pro.