Advice for a New Fire Alarm Dealer


I’ve installed numerous Fire Alarm systems over the years (Simplex, EST, Notifier, and Siemens to name a few). Most of the time I’ve been the installer for the systems and we Sub-contracted the “Parts and Smarts” out to the dealer in our area. In the past few months however my company has decided to become a dealer and strike out on our own as a brand new Potter Rep for our area. My company has asked me to step out of my role as a Forman and to come into the office to head up this new venture. I guess I’m just trying to seek some advice and maybe some ideas on how to begin building this thing. We are beginning to reach out to engineers and customers in our area to get some exposure for our new product line (mostly because no one has ever heard of it) and I’ve been told that I should look into providing monitoring services for our customers? I have looked into a few different monitoring services that we could partner with but I guess I’m not sure how that would work and what our role would be? Would we just be a middle man or would we need to “bundle” that service with some type of maintenance agreement?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!


I may not work in the Life Safety field but I do work in HVAC, the best way to get your product that you deal out there is to recommend that brand to your customers on new installs, you can get stuff cheaper from the manufacture since you have a dealer status, which in turn provides a better price to your customer.

It’s all about quality and price, if the product is quality and inexpensive people will go for that.

I wish you luck on your journey as a dealer! Sorry if this doesn’t make total sense I’m writing this on my phone currently.


I got changed over to potter when potter bought Harrington … maybe 6 or 7 years ago. I have been a systems distributor since 1998 and actually before that when I worked for another company. I have installed just about every brand, out there over my career.

Potter is, hands down, one of the absolute best systems to install. I thought the siemens stuff was really good, but, potter is way better. The only thing we have had ANY issues with is duct detector housings. I think that’s because the guys want to use their impact drivers to tighten the cover screws and the covers are being warped. I am going to replace a couple of the housings, next week and see.

Monitoring is an absolute must. You would contract with a monitoring company and they would essentially be an arm of your business. My monitoring company actually answers our phone, after hours, using our company name. It should be a seamless relationship, you clients will never know, unless you tell them. Sometimes you have to tell the client, for insurance and/or permitting purposes. Monitoring companies generally, do not work directly with the public, though. You shouldn’t be a middle man :wink:

It’s not easy to build a fire alarm company. It seems you all have the foundation, as an installer. Get out there and bid jobs. Good luck!!


Thank you for the all the helpful advice! I’ve only installed a small amount of Potter so far but I am very impressed with its capabilities!
If you don’t mind me asking did your insurance premiums go up when you started monitoring? I just got a quote from my our insurance agent and my jaw hit the floor when he told us how much we would need to increase our coverage to include monitoring… our owner was all in until he saw that and now I feel I’ve hit a wall…

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I have never considered - not monitoring. I have no idea if there is any insurance difference or not. All I can say is the money that comes in from monitoring and the service that goes with it, far outweighs the insurance premiums that go out. While that may or may not be true for every company, it is for mine.


Unfortunately I’m our particular case I’m afraid it may not be feasible for us to start monitoring. Our insurance company will raise our premiums so high that we will need to have at least 200 customers just to break even with monitoring alone… unfortunately I think our insurance company is gouging us but I have no way of knowing… I would like to try and convince the owner to get some second opinions. I guess I was just curious if anyone had experienced something similar.