You Hear It Every Year and This Year Should Be No Different: Keep Fire Prevention and Fire Safety in Mind Regarding Your Christmas Tree

You hear it every year and this year is no different: keep fire prevention and fire safety in mind regarding your Christmas tree!  It’s the “most wonderful time of the year,” so don’t let it turn into a disaster for your family by ignoring some simple Christmas tree safety rules – especially when it comes to fire prevention.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says every year an average of 210 fires are caused by Christmas trees.  Don’t let your holiday tradition become a NFPA statistic.

  • It’s a great idea to test your smoke alarms or fire alarm systems the day you decide to put up your Christmas tree. (Make that part of your family’s “tradition”!)
  • If you have an artificial tree, make sure the label indicates fire retardant certification.
  • When buying a fresh tree, make sure the needles are green and do not fall off when touched.
  • Keep the tree well away from any heat source such as a fireplace or radiator.
  • Keep a fresh tree well watered.
  • Never, ever use candles to decorate on or near the Christmas tree.
  • Turn off tree lights before going to bed or when leaving the house.

We know you have probably heard all of these tips year after year.  But when it comes to the safety of your home and family, what’s a little repetition?
We at ABEL Building Systems wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Five Times You Should Consider Changing Your Locks for Your Family’s Security and Safety

Have you ever changed the locks on your home or requested a lock change at your apartment, with your family’s safety and security in mind?  It probably rarely crosses your mind, if ever.  But there are a few key times when it should.
A Department of Justice special report indicated: An estimated 3.7 million household burglaries occurred each year on average from 2003 to 2007. But, this report also showed: In 40% of unlawful entries to unoccupied residences, offenders gained access through an unlocked door or window!
Not only should you and your family members remember to lock the doors and windows, there are four key times when a lock change is a good idea for home protection and your peace of mind:

  1. Any time you move – moving into a new home or a new apartment is the ideal time to change the locks on the residence or to request an apartment lock change. Ideally, only you, your family or roommates, and your landlord should have access to your home.
  2. Any time you lose a key – it happens. You drop your keys and have no idea if it was at the mall or at the football game.  You lose your purse and it not only had your keys in it but your home address on your ID as well.  This is definitely a time to change your locks.
  3. Any time there’s a divorce, significant-other change or a change in roommates – a divorce or a break-up is another time to consider changing your locks. Despite all the other complications this type of relationship change may bring, don’t forget that protecting yourself, your family, and your property is priority.  Likewise, changing roommates also necessitates a lock change.
  4. Any time a lock is breaking or wearing down – an unreliable lock is the same as no lock at all. Particularly if you live in an older home or apartment complex, inspect the locks closely for signs of wear and tear that render them easier to break or give way with little effort.
  5. Any time you experience a break-in or attempted break-in – this unpleasant and frightening situation calls for action.  At the least, you will feel a strengthened sense of security when you change the locks.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can mean a lot when it comes to protecting your family. Installing new locks is such a small inconvenience when you look at the big picture of securing your loved ones and your property.

Do You Really Need a Security System, Camera Surveillance or CCTV? Let’s Look at the Facts

ABEL Building Systems assists schools, businesses, warehouse and industrial sites, assisted living facilities and more with fire alarm and security system solutions.  One question we are often asked is, do I really need some type of security system, cameras or CCTV?
To simplify, let’s talk about businesses and cameras/CCTV.  Let’s say a large business enterprise decision-maker wonders if video surveillance is a luxury or a need.  The easiest way to answer that question is to look at some quick facts:

  • A survey conducted by the American Management Association indicated:
    • Almost half (48%) of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to counter theft, violence and sabotage.
    • Seven percent use video surveillance to track employees’ on-the-job performance.
    • Most employers notify employees of anti-theft video surveillance (78%) and performance-related video monitoring (89%).
  • It is a fact that there is a decrease in criminal activity when there is knowledge that “someone is watching.”
  • Cameras or CCTV shed light on the truth of a variety of matters ranging from dishonesty to criminal theft.

These are only a few of the facts that decision makers and building owners in the marketplace will want to keep in mind when analyzing their security system needs – in particular here we are talking about cameras and CCTV systems.  Speaking with a reputable security professional and learning about the different systems available and having a frank discussion about budget and video/security system needs is invaluable.
The main thing to keep in mind is that protecting all you have strived to build as well as the people who count on you or your company is not a decision to take lightly. When you’re ready, learn all you can about different products available and take a proactive measure to protect yourself, your business, your customers and your employees.  We are a proud supplier of Avigilon CCTV products.

Fire Prevention and Alarms, Fire Safety and Fire Escape Planning are Year ‘Round Endeavors

October was National Fire Prevention Month, and there is always a lot of good info out there about fire safety, smoke alarms, fire alarm systems and fire escape planning in that month. But, fire safety is a year ‘round concern and should be reviewed often by your family or your business – no matter what month it is.
We at ABEL Building Systems are taking a minute to give you some basic fire safety tips to keep in mind all year long.
For homeowners:
1. Protect your home, your family and your pets with working smoke alarms and/or fire alarm systems. Make sure all systems are fully functional at all times. Test them periodically and change batteries yearly. As we reminded you last month, when you “fall back” or “spring forward” time-wise is a great reminder to check those smoke alarm batteries.
2. Have an “escape plan” in place for your family, should the alarm go off. Discuss the plan with everyone in your home and practice it – more than once, if you have small children.
3. If possible, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends everyone know at least two ways to escape from every room in your home.
For apartment and high-rise building dwellers:
1. When looking for an apartment, it is best to rent one where there is a fire detection system with smoke detectors. Many times an automatic fire detection system can provide early warning to the authorities before a fire starts.
2. Know the evacuation plan for your apartment or high-rise. Go over this with your family and always take part when your complex practices any type of fire or emergency drill.
3. In case of fire, never, ever use the elevator – take the stairs. If someone in your family is unable to use stairs, be sure to incorporate this issue within your personal fire safety plan.
For business owners:
1. The first step is to make sure you are at minimum following the OSHA guidelines for fire safety standards. This at minimum should include fire prevention measures, an emergency evacuation plan and clearly marked exit routes.
2. It is a good idea to work with a specialist to identify what system would work best for your company’s set up. We at ABEL Building Systems provide NFPA fire code compliant systems to our customers and install non-proprietary Silent Knight and System Sensor fire alarm equipment.
3. Keep any machines (copiers, computers, office equipment, etc.) that get warm or produce heat away from easily flammable materials. If possible, turn off electrical appliances at the end of each work day – for example, the coffee pot!
Remember, fire Prevention and alarms, fire safety and fire escape planning are things to keep in the forefront of your mind throughout the year.

“Your Moral Compass and Resolving Misunderstandings in Business”

We know that money drives the economic engine of any company, organization, or agency. Maintaining the agreed-to cash flow to vendors and suppliers is critical to the incoming flow of material and manpower.
When money or scheduling issues come up, reconcile and resolve as soon as possible. Do not allow misunderstandings to fester. It can only get worse. So:
Reconcile money issues, reconcile personnel issues, and reconcile misunderstandings about deliverables
When budgetary issues require adjustments of any kind, prompt advanced notifications are always preferred and appreciated by everyone. Also, letting a potential customer know of cost-saving options is a great way to instill confidence in your company.
Making a potential customer aware of underperforming (often cheap) or high performance (often expensive) products that are on the market will help customers and potential customers know what expectations can be achieved. This advice before the sale is another way to instill confidence in your company.
ABEL Building Systems routinely meets to discuss details and what customers’ expectations are. This process builds a bond that helps carry over a feeling of confidence into the review process. ABEL Building Systems wants to meet the specification and reveal itself to be the best solution for the customer’s application.
It’s amazing how personnel decisions can affect sales and service. Personal courtesy can build business or drive it away.
Do:        Letting the customer decision makers know about complete system progress and performance operations.
Deliver what is promised, when it’s promised
Interpreting the specification packages and thrift cost if possible while maintaining full compliance.
Keep on schedule. If issues arise, alert promptly for countermeasure(s).
Document all changes and interruptions, and open dialog.
Don’t:               Oversell any system, product or service
Over promise and under deliver
Promise good service, and deliver poor service
Take out products from the specification package after the contract begins to reduce performance for the sake of a little extra profit
Deliver less than what was promised to the customer.
We all know that we operate in an imperfect world, and misunderstandings are inevitable. Is there a way to minimize them?
Words are required, but pictures are better. Pictures can be blueprints, sketches, outlines, or pictures / video. But intentionally mis-reading corporate documents to favor being the recipient of expensive engineering changes erodes trust. Clarifying potential confusion and information conflict right away builds trust and credibility. Quotation submission, invoicing, progress reports, and partial or complete shipping documentation are all part of the route to building trust and securing additional business.
When disputes arise, a uniform examination of all aspects and angles of the issue to resolve in a mutually meaningful way builds trust and shows accountability.
ABEL Building Systems makes sure that with a system like Closed Circuit Television (CCTV), we discuss the three D’s. When providing the right system with the right performance expected, Deter, Detect, and Document all have to be addressed. But too many times, the “cost” is the main focus. Cost should figure, but not be the main factor. Truth, understanding, and honesty will bring the right picture into view on the right system, and Abel Building Systems wants the right one to all its customers. The Avigilon systems we provide deliver superior results.
So once a contract is awarded by a customer to a vendor / contractor, what is the responsibility to fulfill that contract? Key pointKeep your word in conversations and agreements. Keep free of hidden and deceptive substitutions of cheaper, lower-performing products in place of promised high quality items. Taking questionable short cuts will destroy reputations and contractor’s standing in business circles.
After completion of a project or sale of a service, prompt responses to warranty call backs and repairs builds a reputation of credibility. Delayed warranty responses or delayed service calls hurt the customer / vendor relationship.
If a contractor brings on sub-contractors under the umbrella of that company, the general contractor must assume all risks and responsibilities for those sub-contractors in all situations as the main customer sees builds favor to do business again. The sub-contractor can be dealt with away from the customer’s eyes if serious issues arise.
Select what business segments to approach, and be honest with customers and vendors about what you can do and can’t do. This will build respect. If a job is too small, be honest about it. If a job is too large, be honest about it. ABEL Building Systems politely declines working on projects that are too far out of scope or are in such poor shape for what funds are available to fix it right.
ABEL Building Systems offers Avigilon products that provide high quality, high resolution and playback with innovative download software as a primary product line. There are three basic levels of equipment, and ABEL can recommend an excellent selection to meet your needs. The basic level is called the “Core System”. The intermediate system is called the “Standard System”. The top system is called the “Enterprise System.”
ABEL Building Systems also uses new Honeywell parts for new systems or additions requiring Honeywell parts. And replacement parts for older Honeywell systems are available to keep those older systems in good running order.

“Who Is Your Customer? Your Customer is Everyone You Deal With.”

The term “customer” most often refers to someone who gives money for a material, service, or counsel. And the prevailing thought is the “customer is always right”. So a higher level of diligence is viewed for where the money source is. But ABEL Building Systems has a higher level of application to what a “customer” is. ABEL Building Systems believes there is more to the equation, and that ALL sectors of a transaction need to be treated as high importance.
You need to treat everyone with honor. Your “customers are the ones who buy from you, the ones who you work with, the ones who you contract out to or buy from, as well. This culture of honor brings in rewards of trust and accountability.
When ABEL Building System treats its suppliers / contractors well, they respond. When an emergency arises with an ABEL Building Systems customer, special effort can be counted on by those suppliers to help ABEL to respond to its customer emergency. If ABEL didn’t treat its supply base well, special effort would be hard to come by.
Customers will buy from people who do what they say they will do, and will stop doing business with those who do not deliver as promised. If a supplier does any of these, the customer / supplier relationship is damaged:  Under-deliver in product quality, in product delivery schedules, in quality of service after the sale, or even in response times and courtesy of personnel during emergencies.
Predictable, excellent results retain customers
One time, ABEL Building Systems discussed a system that a potential customer had installed previously. They couldn’t understand why the screen image directly from the camera is so sharp, and the images from the playback are so grainy and jerky.
ABEL Building Systems explained why ABEL explains everything ahead of time so expectations match results.  A direct connection from the camera to a monitor is deceiving, because when a potential customer sees it in a demonstration, they think they will get a playback just like it. But that’s hidden deception. The strength and power of the software and the capacity of the hardware to process the signals from the camera(s) is the key. Anyone can feed a signal from a camera to a monitor with clarity. But a true system performance will depend on honesty.
Another category of “customer” is the internal group of people we work with every day. The receptionist, guard shack personnel, and administrative employees make a critical first impression to all visitors and customers. They deserve respect and courtesy.
The quotation and billing departments present the faces as to how customers and vendors see your company. The quality departments, the manufacturing departments and the engineering departments are customers to each other. The service department and financial departments are also critical to the operations and how they must embrace the whole. Each part of a company operation, whether the company is small where one person can wear many “hats” to a multi-national organization; has to embrace a culture of seeing each person in their own company as their customer.
Our customers will set us apart from the competition because we complete shipments to our customers, because our suppliers complete their shipments to us.
Too many companies beat up their suppliers instead of nurturing them. And nurturing doesn’t mean babying them. When a supplier fails in their commitment to quality, delivery, or content quality, the complete end result suffers. When a supplier feels being taken advantage after the contractual work begins, that vendor may seek to not be part of that supply chain again. When a company decides to withhold or delay prompt scheduled payments to a supplier, the vendor may decide that it isn’t worth it. We need to trust our vendors and suppliers as well as our customers.
Customers will buy from those companies who look out for the customer needs as they would their own companies. The Golden Rule still applies.
An organization works well when there is a culture of honesty, respect, responsibility, and commitment throughout the Company structure. A healthy company culture has a customer relationship that thrives, a vendor relationship, and inter-company relationships helps drive customers and vendors to that company. Vendors WANT to do business with them, even at a lower profit margin. Customers will pay more for products and services if they know they will be taken care of the right way.
Next month we’ll cover “Misunderstandings and resolution in business and Your Moral Compass”.

“Building trust and honesty with businesses that need surveillance and security systems.”

Responsibility, honesty, and truthfulness bring about repeat business and builds future relationships. But how many have been burned by unethical or unqualified contractors? Or have you ever been hired by an unethical company that didn’t complete their end of the agreement? Many have in either case, and those experiences still hurt. But dealing with a company that takes time with the details, honors their word, does fine, quality work blesses everyone involved.
Business losses pile up and customer satisfaction falls each year from poor quality materials, substituting inferior products secretly, poor execution of the work by unqualified workers, missing deadlines and delaying other parts of a project, or late payment histories. What are we to do? Doing business with ethical companies with integrity, honesty and accountability actually reduces design costs, building costs, installation costs, and time needed to straighten out messes. ABEL Building Systems operates on principles that make customers want to come back for more repeat business. Why? It’s less hassle and costs less.
People want what meets their expectations. What are the expectations?
Buyers want the best products, at the least cost in the quickest amount of time. It’s actually unrealistic. There is a price for the best products. There is a price for expedited delivery, there is a price for exemplary service.
But ABEL Building Systems can deliver customer satisfaction with excellent products at a lower cost. How? By innovation. One time a project customer asked for a 6-camera system to monitor a facility parking lot. ABEL Building Systems was able to supply a superior result with an Avigilon surveillance system at a lower total cost with higher performance because it met the specifications with lower installation costs. The customer was happy and resulted in more business. The trust factor was met.
What about those “cheaper” products? Can you get the same thing at a cheaper price? Rarely. Many purchasing or management personnel shop only by price. If it is exactly the same thing, that’s OK. But the saying: “You get what you pay for.”
But every product sector has products that vary in price. How can proper comparisons be made? There will always be some products less expensive than others. “Cheap” doesn’t have to be “least expensive”.

  • Some are the same products, but different quantities
  • Some are the same products, but different sizes
  • Some are the same products, but different colors
  • Some are the same products, but different warranty periods

But if good performance from a system is expected, and mediocre performance from the system is delivered, it’s a problem. If you promise good service, then deliver good service. Keep your word. Don’t promise good service if you plan to give lousy service.
The best policy: “Listen, ask, deliver, follow-up with excellence.”
When you deliver excellence, customers will begin to prefer you!
There may be some contractors or customers that will have a contentious attitude, but always do your best, no matter what.
People expect a good job for their money. They do not expect a bad job. As a contractor, these things cost the customer: Late and incomplete deliveries, broken items in the delivery, incomplete documentation, being late on service calls, and not completing the job being called for.
Should the size of the project determine how well a job is done? ABEL Building Systems believes all jobs awarded to them are treated with the same weight:
With excellence.

  • Small jobs – do them well
  • Large jobs – do them well

One time, ABEL Building Systems was called to a potential customer who wanted a budget system with high performance without spending premium dollars. The explanation from ABEL Building Systems went that the potential customer couldn’t have it both ways, but explained that a mid-priced system could be affordable and offer some of the desired features.
The potential customer declined and purchased a budget system at a discount store and installed it. The performance and quality of the system way below the expectations, and the potential customer called ABEL back wanting to know what they did wrong in the installation to get such poor results. ABEL patiently again went through what it takes to furnish a system to deliver a quality system that matched their expectations. They again decided not to award ABEL Building Systems any repair work, but ABEL stayed in good relations with that potential customer because they told the truth.
Next month, we’ll talk about what sets you apart from your competition.
Question: What if your established customer asks for something on a new project that you don’t provide? What would you do?
The answer may be found in that old black & white film, Miracle on 34th Street. Do you remember that movie? Macy’s unknowingly hired a man who he believed to be Kris Kringle, himself. The movie takes twists and turns, but one major element was the reaction to customers when “Kris” began referring people to a competitor (Gimbal’s) when Macy’s didn’t have a particular item. The customers in the film were initially astonished at being instructed to patronize the competition. Top management began receiving hundreds of letters from grateful customers, and took them by surprise.
There is credibility in being honest with people. If a person or company cannot deliver what is being asked for, be honest. People will always remember that. The issue isn’t always about the sale. It’s about the reputation. ABEL Building Systems believes that level of honesty drives all the new business their way.
Some companies try bait and switch campaigns to boost sales. Some marketing strategies aim to trick customers to visually show what they think they will get, and end up not getting what they thought they were getting. Bitter taste results.
That old movie truly shows that telling the truth is better. Whether it is a customer telling a vendor / sub-contractor the truth, or a vendor / sub-contractor telling the customer the truth, being open and truthful has rewards.
If you can’t provide what a potential customer needs, or can’t provide a solution to their needs with the inclusion of suitable sub-contract services, a customer would rather be told accurate information than deceptive information.
The more you embrace this philosophy and make it part of the culture at your business, the better your business will perform.