The Bottom Line May 2018

This month Simon Banks talks to Paul Connelly, Managing Director of CSS. Based in Scotland, CSS are one of the largest NSI approved and most progressive security companies in the region, operating with four branches in Scotland.

What have been the main factors for your success since launching CSS 32 years ago?

Our business approach has never been to sell on price alone. Our commitment to customers has always been a long game where we provide great service and they simply don’t leave us. Endeavouring to provide great service has been the number one factor in our success. People buy from people they trust. Our customers prefer to buy our services over our competition, having been fully briefed on the risks to their business, not ours. We inform, advise and explain the risks. We don’t simply tick boxes during the installation. We ensure that the system is fit for purpose. If it isn’t installed to the specification of the insurance company, this can leave a customer in real trouble. Over the next five-year business plan, our continued focus is to show commitment to our customers (old and new) to ensure their experience with us is a positive one. All of this is thanks to the great team we have built around our family business over the last 32 years. From our engineers, surveyors, admin staff and throughout the business we have people who have bought into the ‘CSS way’.

In terms of new and high-level technologies. What examples can you give us that your workforce is now able to offer your customers?

We only fit Grade 4 signalling for all our new installs and one of the benefits of this is that we can also provide remote support to our customers to provide a quicker response. This high-level product is an example of our decision never to compromise on quality and ensure that installations exceed their requirements. We are seeing an increasing demand for end-user Apps, however it is vital that we also provide professional ARC monitoring for these systems to keep our customers and their properties safe. I know there is a stampede for apps and self-monitored systems, but having an ARC on hand 24/7 to “be there just in case” brings our business huge benefits. This service also provides a sense of contentment to our customers knowing they can always actually speak to a person at any time, should they need us.

You mention that CSS will not compromise on the Grade of an installation. Do you feel that Insurance companies are taking more of a back seat when specifying Intruder Alarms?

There isn’t any doubt in my mind, the eyes of Insurers are on bigger risk factors such as flooding and fire. Burglary claims are not as high in value, so perhaps these days their resources are more focussed on those types of risks. However, burglary is still a big problem for society. Many individuals are taking more of an interest in protecting their property themselves. This has been compounded by a perceived (or perhaps real) reduction in front line Policing. We are finding more clients are managing this themselves by engaging in private guards responding to alarms. NSI approved companies know that specifying lower grades than the risk is irresponsible and a short-term tactic. It can also be a costly one if the signal doesn’t get through to the ARC. At CSS we often over-specify, sharing our experience with our customers to demonstrate to them the value and peace of mind this provides. We would not install a Grade 3 in place of a Grade 4 system to save a negligible amount of money and leave our customer open to problems.

You have had lots of recent successes with Apprentices – including at the Engineers of Tomorrow competition at IFSEC and at the BSIA Awards. How important are Apprentices to CSS?

Apprentices have been vital to our growth, without them we would have been well and truly stuffed – no question! We are all witnessing a severe shortage in available engineers and taking the time to invest in Apprentices means that we can help ensure we are better equipped in the future. The young talent coming through today is enabling businesses to embrace new technologies, whilst also allowing other staff to take on additional tasks as well as share their knowledge. You can’t train experience, so at the same time the talent pool needs to be a balanced mix of vibrant youth and ‘long in the tooth’.

As part of your apprenticeship programme you work closely with your local training provider, New College Lanarkshire. How important has this relationship been to your success?

The College has been essential to our Apprenticeship programme. We have had eight apprentices successfully complete their qualification at the College over the past four years and have another six starting this year. We know that the College provides them with not only the training they need to pass their assessments, but also the skills and knowledge to prepare them for when they are on site. They are also open to our input on this and ensure our Apprentices train using the equipment they will be installing day-to-day. We believe this is an example to the rest of the industry and encourage other Installers to engage with their colleges to replicate our success. It can be done! It is an old adage, if you don’t invest you’ll be out of business long-term and of course people, especially younger people, are the key ingredient for the future of our industry – discounting robots of course!

You said it!

Fitted one (CSL Router) today for a client with no Internet access at his farm for CCTV – great bit of kit & easy setup

Tweeted by @rollykeith – Feb 10

I've installed a good few of these units (MiniAirs) and they have worked great. The app is a great bonus.

LinkedIn Post – Fran Kelly – Feb 23

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