19 Great Ways to Use Facebook to Promote Your Business Locally

So you’ve decided Facebook is the way to go and setup an account for your business…now what? What should your business share with its Facebook friends? Remember: on Facebook, friends are those that choose to follow your Facebook account.

Quality ALWAYS overrules quantity. Post it if it has some sort of connection to your customer friends – think a local connection or advice related to their job. Post it if it has some connection to the products and services you offer. If it has nothing to do with your Facebook friends or your business, think twice before sharing it.

We broke it down for you, thinking about the common fire and security dealer’s business out there on Main Street America. Here are 19 Facebook post ideas to get you started:

  1. Did a customer just say something nice to you? Share it on Facebook. Better yet, include a response, such as “Glad to hear Suzie’s Candle Shop on High Street is loving their new fire alarm system. No more false alarms!”
  2. Do your technicians take a smartphone or tablet with them on jobs? Ask them to take photos of successful installs, so you can post them (without revealing the customer name and location, of course). Showcase the photo with an upbeat description, such as, “Retrofitted our third school building this month and all is going extremely smooth!”
  3. Interesting articles and news stories that can help a facility manager/owner (your customers) overcome a ​​common challenge are always good to share.
  4. Help your customers get to know you and your employees. Post the occasional employee profile and announce recent promotions, certifications, work anniversaries and even birthdays. This personalizes your company and can go a long way toward improving the customer experience.
  5. Ask a question relevant to your community, customers or business: “Subway Series starts tonight – who are you rooting for?” or “What’s the biggest security concern you have for your business (offer four answers and an ‘other’ option)”?
  6. Does your company support a little league team? Do your employees participate in an annual fundraiser walk? Did you recently donate some help to a church or Ronald MacDonald House? Share this is great news to let your customers – and those searching for you online – know how much of an upstanding business you run.
  7. DO NOT forget the bi-annual reminder to check smoke detector batteries in resi applications when we turn the clocks back and forward for daylight savings.
  8. This goes without saying, but be sure to share promotions, discounts or new products/services regularly. This is a great medium for keeping customers engaged and in-the-know about any current offers.
  9. Did you read something interesting in the local paper? If it has to do with your community and customers, why not share it?
  10. Is there a new product on the market that could offer your customers new or better features? Share some info about it, being sure to tout its benefits and how they relate directly to your customers.
  11. Ask your Facebook friends for their opinions on a local or national news story.
  12. Ask your Facebook friends for feedback on the work you’ve done for them recently. If it’s not favorable, use that to your advantage! Do whatever you can to make them a satisfied customer and they WILL quickly become your biggest fan via Facebook and word-of-mouth.
  13. Was there a storm or blackout in your area? Talk about the back-up power your fire alarm systems provide to safeguard your customers.
  14. Posting a simple “Good Morning” or “How’s everyone liking this weather?” from time-to-time is more than okay too.
  15. You know resi and commercial fires are common (unfortunately) and always in the news. Share a good story from time to time about how lives were saved due to a fire alarm, smoke detector, CO detector, etc.
  16. Is your company exhibiting or presenting at a local/national event, such as a tradeshow, alarm association meeting, business expo, etc.? Spread the word and share event registration info (especially if it’s free to attend) to get more folks to you.
  17. Did you make a company commercial or video? Share it – you can upload your videos to YouTube free-of-charge – and then link your Facebook posts to it. Check out how to Create a Channel on YouTube.
  18. Share your history.If your company has old/historic pictures of old systems you installed years ago, historic buildings nearby that you’ve worked in, past employee events, and more – share them. Visitors to your page will get of kick out of the old stuff!
  19. Hold a contest to build more friends. Get current friends to ‘share’ your page and reward them.

 

Thinking-up content to post is NOT EASY, so involve your co-workers. From your receptionist to your people in the field – especially those that interface regularly with customers. Task them with emailing in a couple ideas per week or have a quick 10 minute brainstorming session at the end of your monthly employee meeting. The more people you involve, the more awareness they will raise of your Facebook presence. Also, do a quick web search to check out what other businesses, in the industry and in your region, are doing on Facebook.

Have other Facebook post suggestions to add? Share them in the comments section below!

 

 

 

About the Authors:
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.

Elizabeth Richards is the Manager of Communications for Fire-Lite Alarms, Honeywell Power and Silent Knight’s IntelliKnight line. Liz joined Honeywell Fire Systems in 2003 and is responsible for the communications, collateral, messaging, and events for all three brands.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Years ago, the sound quality of an installed emergency voice evacuation system was not as large of a concern beyond the system’s performance requirements of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). However, the need for voice evacuation systems and their use has greatly increased over the years. The requirements had changed as these voice systems provide warning and information pertaining to emergencies beyond just fire. Therefore, this became the introduction of Emergency Communication Systems (ECS). With the emergence of ECS, more and more attention was given to the performance of an installed system.

It is no longer just about the volume and quality of sound from the amplifier, but also the quality of the ECS speakers and the acoustics of the room. The main driver of this is the focus and attention  on the ability of a message to be heard and understood (commonly referred to as Intelligibility). Emergency Communication Systems, such as the Fire-Lite Emergency Command Center (ECC), provide a high-quality sound and are paired with high-quality speakers, such as System Sensor’s SpectrAlert Advance product line, for the best sound on the market today. Moving beyond the equipment, what about the acoustics of the room and the effect that it has on intelligibility?

To ensure that system is intelligible, the system design must factor in the building layout and how it will be used. As an example, furniture, carpet, and many other factors contribute to the intelligibility within a space. All of these factors contribute to an intelligible system and ensures the occupants “get the message”! Other factors that impact the design include: ambient noise level, device sound level, distance between speakers, positioning of the speakers, acoustics of the space, and speaker quality.

The recommended steps to tackle the system design are:

  1. Define each acoustically distinguishable space (ADS)
  2. Create a general speaker layout based on the code requirements
  3. Model the system using software tools
  4. Assess the intelligibility

NFPA 72 – Chapter 24 provides a lot of guidance in these areas.

Sounds like a daunting task? Not if you use an intuitive design software such as EASE Evac from AFMG. EASE Evac is an intuitive tool for designing acoustic emergency communication (a.k.a. mass notification) concepts in a room, hall or building complex. The 3D simulation software calculates the distribution of direct sound levels as well as total sound levels, the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and speech intelligibility (STI, ALCons, CIS). To make life easier for you, System Sensor SpectrAlert Advance speakers are pre-loaded in the software. A combination of these solutions and tools will certainly ensure that during an emergency, your design will be heard.

Want to learn more about the design software EASE Evac? Visit our On-Demand Webinar page to watch our February 2014 ECS Design with EASE webinar

 

 

About the Author:
Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.

NYC High-Rise Fire Prompts Calls for Stronger Fire Safety Legislation

Only a few days into the year, tragedy struck in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. On January 5, a fire broke out in a 42-story apartment building. Two men who lived 18 floors above the fire tried to escape down a stairwell, but were overcome by smoke. One of them died, and the other was critically injured, a tragedy that could have been avoided if they had simply stayed in their apartment.

This tragedy shines a spotlight on a critical life safety issue: a lack of emergency communication requirements in residential buildings. This problem needs to be addressed now – before more lives are lost.

 

What went wrong?

During the Hell’s Kitchen apartment fire, fire fighters followed standard practice, which involved running their hose to the fire from a hydrant standpipe located within a stairwell. Of course, this left the stairwell door open, allowing smoke from the fire to rush inside. In tall buildings, a deadly chimney effect results as smoke gathers and intensifies when it rises.

The two men trying to escape their apartment through the stairwell had no idea where the fire was located. The stairwell was probably clear when they entered it. But because they were cut off from vital information, they didn’t know they should have sheltered-in-place. And while this certainly isn’t the first time such a tragedy has occurred, it’s the most recent reminder that residential fire codes desperately need updating.

 

What are the current requirements?

Law dictates that any high-rise building constructed in New York City after 2008 must have some kind of voice evacuation system. Whether the system enables fire fighters to communicate with residents in their own apartments, on the landing of each floor or in the stairwells, the point is to provide a means for emergency first responders to provide real time information or instructions to people during an emergency.

However, no similar legislation exists for buildings constructed before 2008. To promote resident safety, the NYC Fire Department requires all commercial residential building owners to make tenants aware they should stay in their apartments when there’s a fire within the building until fire fighters arrive or tell them to do otherwise.

To that end, many apartments have posted fire instructions on the back of each apartment door. Generally, the instructions state residents are better off staying right where they are unless the fire is in their apartment. If the fire is in the apartment and a quick effort to put it out is unsuccessful, residents should get out of there, close the door, go to a neighbor’s, call the fire department and then leave the building. For anyone else in the building, 99 percent of the time, the best place to be is in an apartment – not in the lobby, and especially not in the stairwell.

I’m sure a lot of people read these instructions – maybe when they were afraid and didn’t know what to do – and I’m sure plenty of others never read them, like most guests at a hotel. Some residents complained that the instructions ruined the beauty of their entryway. And, even in those buildings where all residents do read and understand the instructions, these emergency plans do nothing to protect everyone else in the building – such as delivery people, employees and cleaners.

 

How can the situation be fixed?

The bottom line is this: New legislation is needed to require all residential building owners to install some kind of emergency communication system. Such a system would enable responders to warn people, tell them the location of a fire and provide instructions. It could be as simple as an intercom or speaker system on the landings, on each floor or in the stairwell.

There are a lot of halfway measures that could make a difference. But a full, legitimate emergency communication system integrated with the building’s fire alarm system would be the preferable method by far.

Although the Hell’s Kitchen fire raised awareness around this issue, legislation is needed to ensure change, universally, throughout the city – and, potentially, the rest of the country. The mantra that residents should, more often than not, shelter in place during a fire feels counterintuitive, especially during a panicked moment, as the New York Times recently pointed out. That’s why fire fighters and other first responders need to communicate quickly and effectively with anyone in a building to offer instructions, information and reassurance.

This gap in our residential fire procedures is something we all have the opportunity to change – right now, before someone else dies unnecessarily. Contact your state and local representatives and tell them you want emergency communication systems to be required in all high-rise residential buildings.

 

About the Author:
Tom Von Essen is a veteran NYC Fire Fighter and the Former Commissioner of the Fire Department of New York 1996-2001.

Are POTS going OUT? Changes in Code Create Changes in Communications

Commercial Fire Alarm communication has stayed relatively the same for over 35 years but recently has been undergoing a fundamental technology change as the legacy POTS.  (Plain Old Telephone Service) infrastructure gets more expensive to maintain and service. Some of the larger telecommunications companies (such as AT&T) have already made reference that a sunset of the POTS network can begin as early as 2016. So what does that mean for the future of Fire Alarm communications? Well, there are many communication options available in the market today that will meet UL ,ULC and NFPA 72 requirements. Products such as the IPGSM-4G and IPGSM-4GC from Honeywell Power can easily be installed to replace legacy POTS lines with minimal installation and configuration required. When installing these types of Fire communicators it is very important to understand how each product’s technology works and their relation to NFPA 72 requirements.

For many years, legacy POTS communication using a DACT (Digital Alarm Communicator Transmitter) required both primary and secondary phone lines to communicate to a central station. Later versions of NFPA 72 (such as the 2010 standard) helped clarify the acceptance of alternative forms of communications. Chapter 26, Section 26.6.3.1.4.2 states Where two or more different technologies are used, the following requirements shall be met: (1) Provision shall be made to monitor the integrity of each communications path.(2) Failure of any communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station and at the protected premises within not more than 24 hours of -the failure”. In addition, NFPA 72 2010 also helped clarify the ability to use a single technology to be used for Fire Alarm communication. Chapter 26, Section 26.6.3.1.4.1 states that “Where only one communications technology is used, any failure of the communications path shall be annunciated at the supervising station within 5 minutes of the failure.” NFPA 72 2013 Chapter 26 section 26.6.3.1.5 goes a step further to loosen the supervision requirements for a single communications technology from every five minutes to every 60 minutes. In addition, Chapter 26 section 26.6.3.1.6 tightens the requirements for multiple communication paths from every 24 hours to every 6 hours.

Keep in mind that not every jurisdiction is quick to adopt the newest NFPA 72 standards as the local AHJ’s still have the final say. With the future of the POTS infrastructure more in question then ever and the potential to save thousands of dollars by using newer and more reliable technologies, it is imperative to have a good understanding of the local codes. Also being able to provide AHJs with any relevant documentation for approval will help you stay on the forefront of this technology shift while also being able to capture a savings on monthly monitoring costs.  

 

About the Author:
Ken Gentile is a Product Manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. Using his more than 15 years of marketing and engineering experience, Ken’s primary focus lies in the development of new products.

 

The Basics of Advertising: Seven Ways to Get Started

Any small business owner would likely agree that growing their business is one of the primary goals. And as a fire alarm dealer, differentiating yourself from the competition is even more vital. That’s why getting your company’s name out there is so important, right from the start.

Beyond word of mouth from satisfied customers, advertising is your best bet for attracting new prospects and building your customer base. Luckily, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on prime-time TV spots to create an effective advertising strategy. In fact, by starting small, you’re more likely to attract the strong customer base that you want—local, and actually in the market for your services—without overspending.

Consider these steps as a starting point:

  1. Use email marketing. Email is a very inexpensive way to reach new customers, advertise your services and specials, share news about your business and discuss updated industry news or new fire codes. Low-cost sites such as iContact and Constant Contact allow you to easily build HTML emails, even if you have no coding experience. You can collect contact information for prospective customers at tradeshows and other events, or even buy or rent it through a leads agency. Quarterly and/or monthly newsletters are also a great way to stay in touch with current customers and deliver new ideas on expanding your relationship.
  2. Build a blog. Company blogs are another free way to get your name out there, while demonstrating industry leadership, market knowledge and company expertise. Your blog could be a great outlet for photos of successful projects, commentary on industry news and even employee spotlights. WordPress and Blogger are two easy-to-use (and free!) blog platforms that can help get you started.
  3. Connect with local media. Share your company’s story with local news stations, newspapers and bloggers. Then, offer to write guest commentaries on fire safety and other fire topics. The more you spread the word on fire safety, prevention and technology, the more people will associate you with this level of expertise.
  4. Network with other businesses. Remember: Networking is one of the golden rules of great public relations and business lead generation. Connecting with other local businesses, residents and local government groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is a great way to build opportunity for new business. Many local residents and businesses find service providers through Chamber of Commerce recommendations.
  5. Get social. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook​ are free to use and can really help to increase your brand recognition. As a local business, it’s also important to monitor review sites such as Yelp and Google Review​ to gauge levels of customer satisfaction. Remember that the most important thing is your reputation. When a customer posts a negative review of your work, you must address it and use it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
  6. Stay involved. Becoming an active member of your local community can go a long way. Sponsor a local little league group or actively support a local charity, such as Habitat for Humanity. Not only does giving back help increase brand awareness; it also establishes you as a company that cares.
  7. Leverage PR tools. New online tools such as HARO (helpareporter.com) and Pitch Engine are an inexpensive way to increase exposure and get in front of customers and media.

​​Experiment with these and other advertising ideas to find the approach that works best for your company. Before long, you’ll start to see a return on your investment – in the form of a growing base of happy customers.

 

About the Author:
Meg Weadock is a writer and editor for CompassPR, which provides comprehensive public relations, marketing and communications services to emerging leaders in the technology space.

Rev-Up Your Fire RMR

On March 25 I’ll be exploring how dealers can go beyond the traditional fire monitoring RMR (recurring monthly revenue) relationship with your customers in a Webinar titled “The Other Side of Fire RMR” that you’re all welcome to join. As a fire expert in your community, your customers rely on you to design, install and maintain their fire systems to national and local code standards. They also look to you to maintain and complete the required testing that is associated with a fire system.

We will explore how to price and include your other fire services in the same RMR contract that you establish for every fire system you install or take over. Beyond building real RMR value in your business, did you know by extending your contracted services to include the full compliment of services that you provide, it will help to cement your relationship with your customer and offer a competitive advantage for your company? And how do you price your service and maintenance, test and inspections and fire emergency planning with each of your customers?

We’re going to provide real, tangible answers to these questions and more in our “The Other Side of Fire RMR” Webcast​. Do you have other questions concerning contracts, pricing and services? Post them as a comment here and we’ll be sure to cover them!

 

About the Author:
John Brady, President of TRG Associates, is a 20+ year veteran of the fire and security alarm industry. Regarded as an expert in his field, John has participated as an expert witness in cases representing fire/security alarm providers, as well as building owners, on issues related to holdback disputes, pricing, valuation, communication failure liabilities and security operating standards.​

 

Our Changing Industry: More Electrical Contractors Entering Fire Alarm Market

It’s no secret that the fire alarm industry is rapidly changing and – as we explored in another recent post – growing steadily. Part of this change is due to the fact that new players are entering the industry all the time.

One emerging trend we’ve seen over the past several years is more involvement from electrical contractors in the fire alarm space. Electrical contractors have long been involved in our world already, and now, many electrical contractors are adding fire alarms to their other solutions. Why? There are a number of reasons behind this growing trend:

  1. ​Fire alarms provide a great way to diversify their solutions offering. We’re seeing more and more electrical contractors add fire alarms to their business because many customers want a contractor who can do it all. Plus, it’s a relatively simple add-on for someone who has already worked within the field. Many electrical contractors are also adding data, energy management and building automation services to their offering as well.
  2. Most of the wiring for a fire alarm system is already done with an electrical contractor. A new fire alarm requires a 120-volt line, which must be installed by a licensed electrician. Typically, fire alarm dealers will sub-contract an electrical professional when they need any wiring or cabling done. Since many electrical contractors already have this type of experience in the fire alarm space, installing the devices themselves is a natural next step for many.
  3. The evolving contractor business model. Many electrical contractors are shifting their business model to ensure more consistent work. When construction is booming, electrical contractors have plenty of jobs coming their way. But as projects ebb, they look to service jobs to fill any gaps in workload. Fire alarm service is ongoing, as a result of required testing and maintenance, inspection and, often, replacement. This provides the consistent service work that many electrical contractors are needing.

Increasingly, these trends are prompting electrical contractors to consider offering fire alarm systems with the rest of their solutions. Meanwhile, a growing number of them are attending fire alarm seminars and educating themselves on our industry. As our market continues to grow and evolve, expect to see even more electrical contractors joining our ranks in the years to come.

 

About the Author:
Dave Pakech is the Vice President of Sales for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power. He joined Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power in 2008 and brings over 20 years of Security Industry experience to both brands.​

 

Building Business Social (Part 2) – Is Facebook Right for You and Where Do You Start?

Following up on last week’s blog, Building Business Socially, I’m going to continue wading into this topic and focus on Facebook this time. The whole premise here is to demonstrate how a small business can leverage Facebook to connect with your current customers and identify new prospects.

Which-demographics-use-what-social-mediaBut first, is Facebook for everyone? Probably not for a company that sells BtoB, but for dealers and integrators that want to raise local awareness of their company and what they offer, it could be a good fit.

Facebook is the most widely used social media site today. Mashable.com reports an incredible 67 percent of Internet users are on Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center – see infographic. And Facebook is not just for kids. Blogger and social media expert, Jeff Bullas reports, “the increase in usage by the 55 to 64 year olds is greater than 100% for Facebook, Twitter and Google+” according to a recent 2013 GlobalWebIndex study.

In addition to these impressive numbers, Facebook is growing at a rapid rate in terms of the number of users and the percentage of engagement. Businesses are developing pages each day. Even the smallest businesses can find success on Facebook, so let’s get started:

  • Go to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.phpto create a Facebook business account, which is called a “Page.”
  • Once there, select “Local business or place,” which will help your business page to be found more easily.
  • Then, you’ll add your business name (which can’t be changed once it’s set!), as well as basic company information, such as address, products and services, and a company photo.
  • Congrats! Your company now has its own place on Facebook!

Have I lost you yet? Stay with me! Our next step is to start building a Facebook following for your business. You need to reach out to employees, customers, vendors, other business partners, and even friends and family, and ask them to “like” your business page. When people like your page that means they can see anything you post on your Facebook page.

Any user with “admin” status for your Page can invite other Facebook users to “like” your business Page (your site admins can be setup and changed under settings). Individual Facebook users can also post a shout out to their friends, which can be people and businesses, and ask them to like your business page too.

Now that you’ve got a following, what are you going to post?

Dreaming up posts can be time consuming, exhausting and sometimes just down-right painful, but once you get going, the ideas start flowing and it gets easier – way easier. I have a number of great, yet simple post ideas for your business that I’ll share on this blog. In the meantime, commit to at the very least, setting-up your Facebook company page.

 

About the Author:
Beth Welch is the Manager of Public Relations for Honeywell Fire Systems. For a decade, she has strived to raise awareness of new technologies, industry trends and information, for the benefit of engineers, integrators and end users.