Leaders in the Integrated Home: An Exclusive Security Dealer Roundtable

Panelist discuss:

Chris Geiser, Global Leader, Custom Electronics, Honeywell Security & Custom Electronics: Provide simple-to-install, easy-to-operate, cost-effective solutions that scale across multiple low-voltage technologies (like thermostats, lighting and security). Some of the needs that high end home owners express are the ability to monitor and control from remote locations (e.g. second or vacation homes, etc). By providing these functions, Honeywell can lower the cost to serve, by allowing dealers to remotely configure systems. However, the basic security needs of a high end residence are not all that different from the average homeowner: everything from protecting high-value assets, to residential video, to providing remote connectivity over broadband connections.

Jason Root, Vice President of Strategic Relationships, SmartLabs, Inc: Like all of your customers, high end customers are looking for ease of use, plus increased functionality of their security system from remote access via mobile phone or computer to whole home automation and control.

Brady: Reaching out to mainstream America and getting the general public jazzed up about spending money on residential security and automation systems has its challenges. How do you suggest dealers sell to the mainstream market?

Hauk: Dealers that sell to the mainstream market need to have a customer-centric business. Building business through customer service and maintenance: This is a differentiator in a dealer's business. When all things are equal in products, the people you have on board and how responsive you are to the customer is what will separate you from the competition.

Burge: For years, our dealers have sold and installed traditional security systems, which have become the life-safety confidant of the homeowner. This goodwill serves the dealer integrator well in assuming the trusted role when offering new products and services. Customer service is paramount in customer retention and building a sustainable business. Part of maintaining a relationship with the subscriber is offering quality service and service contracts. Safety fairs, home shows and community involvement are all important aspects of any successful marketing campaign. The real key is a well-orchestrated and sustainable marketing campaign.

McLellan: Simplicity and cost are the two most important points for most consumers. People do not want systems that are complicated and expensive. Very few people have lived with an automated home before and the benefits are sort of intangible to most people until they live with an automation system, but cost and ease of use are very tangible. Dealers can sell to the mainstream market by focusing on the benefits of a home control system, not just the security aspects. Security installers can now expand their offerings to include features that home owners enjoy such as lighting control, energy management, and whole home audio systems.

Gartland: Create simple, scalable, repeatable packages in multiple price points. Even though these packages may be common to you, they will seem exotic and custom to the mainstream market. Provide packages with all the key features, but keep it simple. Create them so they can be easily installed and programmed. You need to be able to “get in and get out” of these jobs in 1 to 3 days. Service is paramount. Be communicative. Follow-up, do what you say you'll do when you say you'll do it. Walk the project at the end to make sure it meets your client's approval.

Yu: Selling residential security is a bit like selling a car. Some customers prefer the deluxe model where it can do everything plus extra features they will never use in their life time. Others want a vehicle that can transport them from point A to point B. Whether or not it has power seats or heated steering wheels aren't important features. Similarly, there are customers that won't need all the bells and whistles and will “wait and see” until the technology has matured.