Secure Your Shop's Assets

Nov. 6, 2019
Learn about the advantages and disadvantages to contracted security systems versus DIY security systems so you can make an informed choice.

It’s a typical day. You’re done with work, so you close the body shop and then head home. You park in the driveway. It’s been a good day, so you’re humming to yourself as you stroll up the sidewalk to the front door. 

But, once you reach the door, you get a weird feeling. Then you see it. The door is splintered, and hanging off its hinges. You’re instantly on high alert. 

After experiencing a burglary at your home, you install the best security system that money can buy. You don’t chance another attempt at losing your expensive belongings or sense of security. 

You don’t take your home’s security for granted, so why should you for your business?

Every business owner has choices, says Brian T. Long, sales representative for ADT Security, says. Long has installed security systems at small businesses for the past six years at ADT, a security company that has been around for 145 years. 

“For businesses that might be more savvy, a DIY security system can help reduce costs,” says Dave Shapiro, founder and CTO of Scout Alarm. Shapiro co-founded Scout Alarm, a home security system that is app-based and simple to install.

As a business owner, you have a choice: you can install a security system yourself or you can choose to sign a contract with a company like ADT and have a professional install the system.

What would you choose? (Hint: There is no wrong answer.)

Before You Start: Why is it necessary?

Owners invest large sums of money into purchasing shop equipment and tools, whether that is done all at once or over the course of a few years. And, it’s sitting there vulnerable to someone who wants to take it. 

According to the Small Business Administration, breaking and entering can only happen if the business is not properly secured, but preventative barriers can reduce that likelihood(See Sidebar: Steps to Secure a Shop). Security systems of any kind can help alert police or other authorities of an emergency. 

Maybe, as an owner, you have areas in your shop you want to keep secure but don’t want to call the police every time someone strays into that part of the body shop. By choosing the right type of security system, you can monitor these alerts yourself or have another company do it.

Of the 284,777 robberies known to law enforcement in 2015, 23 percent occurred in businesses, according to the 2018 National Crime Victims Rights Week Resource Guide. In 2017, the arrest rate for burglary was 61.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, per a report from the FBI.

Take a look around your body shop. Are you willing to be one of the victims that loses hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Steps to Secure a Shop

Here are some basic steps to secure a business without an alarm system, according to the Small Business Administration.

  1. Keep tall shrubs or bushes away from windows and doors.

  2. Reinforce your door locks with deadbolts or padlock keys.

  3. Prevent windows from shattering with bars or gates on the window.

  4. Keep valuable pieces away from windows.

  5. Keep the business well-lit inside both during the day and at night.

How It Works: Contracted Security Systems

The Cost: For a system with high-resolution cameras, a body shop might pay $3,000 or more and then pay a monthly fee for the contract service between $40 and $200.


  1.  A security system like ADT can be installed within a day depending on the size of the shop. For a body shop that’s roughly 10,000 square feet, a system could be installed by a team of about two to three workers in one day. 

  2. Long recommends seven cameras for a body shop. He says to install at least one in the general administration office, two or three in the back-end of the shop and two cameras on the outside of the shop to overlook parts deliveries and storage lots.

  3. Representatives like Long will come to the body shop personally and answer any questions the owner has. These consultations are free, Long says.

  4. A team from a contracted security team can install the features early in the morning or late at night so that they do not pause shop production.

  5. The alarm will sound for about 30 seconds before someone has to disable it or it will alert the phones connected to the system.

  6. The company offers servicing of the equipment at no extra cost.

  7. The owner can store the camera footage or security data for a few weeks or up to three months. There is an option to save it to the security company’s cloud or to a third-party cloud.


  1. While there is a service plan through a contracted company, cameras are not designed to last forever, Long says. If something breaks, the team might come out the next day or the day after to fix it.

  2. The price is determined by the type of equipment being installed.

  3. The owner has to sign a 30-month agreement.

  4. It takes time out of the day for the owner to walk around with the sales representative and assess areas that need the features installed.

This is right for you if… A contracted security system is beneficial for shops that have DRPs that require some type of protection on their investment and property. Insurance companies might require a body shop to protect property and casualty from a centralized monitoring system that only a contracted system could supply.

How it Works: DIY Security Systems

Cost: For a plan that includes the company monitoring the system, it can cost around $20 per month. There is an additional cost per month if the business wants data stored from the camera and that would add an extra $3-$5 per month.


  1. A system like Scout Alarm, will take about 30 minutes to install.

  2. An owner can choose the right type of alarm package that fits their business best, Shapiro says. For instance, owners can buy a pack that has glass break, door fobs, key alarms and motion sensors. 

  3. An owner can choose where to place the sensors in the business. 

  4. By installing a system in-house, owners can save money. Do-it-yourself systems can be purchased outright at a flat rate and then the business can opt to buy a plan for less than $50 each month.

  5. Most problems can be fixed through the app that accompanies the alarm system.

  6. Unless the owner overrides the alarm, the security system professionals will send an alert to the police.


  1. If a problem cannot be fixed through the app, the owner must contact customer service and wait for help that way.

  2. Historical data will come from the time and date that the sensors were triggered. It is stored and owners can access a few past weeks of data.

  3. It’s an additional monthly cost to have the company professionally monitor the system.

  4. The process to install has to be done without outside help, ultimately taking time out of the business day. 

  5. Some DIY security stations can only cover 2,500 square feet so multiple systems would need to be purchased.

This is right for you if… A DIY system works best for businesses in which the owner wants to control the system through his or her phone. This system is also for shops on a budget and want to control how much they spend month to month.

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