Alarm monitoring stations are also known as central monitoring stations. Signals sent by residential and commercial alarm systems are processed to send the proper responders. File proper state, federal and local documentation to make the business a legal entity. Obtain national certification to make the monitoring station appeal to businesses and homeowners. Insurance keeps the monitoring station in the hands of the owner in case a lawsuit is filed. It takes time and preparation, but starting an alarm monitoring station is a very realistic goal.
Things You Will Need
State/Local permits & licensing
Federal Employer Identification Number
Multi-line telephone system
Central Station Alarm Association Membership
Underwriters Laboratories certificate
Determine what alarm systems the monitoring service will support. There are traditional hardwired alarms, wireless systems, video and home automation. Temperature monitoring is offered to commercial clients. Consider the needs of potential clients and select a few options for business specialization. Offer additional services as business expands. Ask around to see what other alarm monitoring companies are charging and what services they provide to better service the potential client base.
Contact the business development office to determine permits and licensing needed for an alarm monitoring station. Find contact information in the local phone directory. Ask about pricing and renewal periods. File the required applications, keeping documentation on all processed paperwork. Obtain a federal employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service.
Open a business bank account. Present the licensing paperwork to open a merchant account. The monitoring station can accept credit card payments for services rendered.
Select a business location. When selecting a monitoring station office, Underwriter Laboratories criteria are very specific. The building must have fireproof walls, a secured power room and a backup power source. If applicable, one area must be entirely dedicated to alarm monitoring to avoid distracting personnel. This is only relevant if the business also provides answering services. The monitoring station cannot be located on the ground floor or have windows.
Obtain business insurance to protect the monitoring station from lawsuits. Liability and property insurance are available for purchase by business owners. Employers must also purchase unemployment and workers compensation insurance for employees.
Order supplies. A multi-line phone system handles incoming and outgoing calls to communicate with responders such as police and fire departments. Video monitors and 2-way voice communicators need to be in constant operation. Depending on services offered, the station may be equipped with elevator or temperature monitoring equipment. Purchase security equipment in bulk for a cheaper cost per item. Always have alarm systems on hand for new customer installation.
Hire personnel. Technicians set up communication between the monitoring station and the business or residence receiving services. Operators observe communications and monitoring devices. Hire operators with experience and training in alarm monitoring. There must be at least two operators on duty 24 hours a day in the station. There must be a technician on call 24 hours a day to deal with faulty alarms. An outside company should conduct background checks on potential personnel to avoid legal issues.
Contact Underwriters Laboratory to inspect the station. It can cost thousands of dollars in yearly fees to maintain UL certification, but it ensures business and homeowners that the monitoring station follows strict safety and security standards. Homeowners insurance is discounted when alarm monitoring is provided by a UL-certified monitoring station. Use this as a selling point to attract potential clients.
Apply for membership in the Central Station Alarm Association. Membership is open to UL-certified alarm monitoring stations. Members meet regularly to be updated on industry developments and to make business contacts.
Advertise the monitoring station. Include advertisements in local newspapers. Create a television or radio ad announcing the company arrival. Having discounts or promotional sales on equipment or monitoring fees attracts clients.