Expanding to Home Technologies, Part 1: Home Technology Defined

A look at the realm of home technologies for dealers interested in expanding their low-voltage business

Welcome to a new monthly column here at SecurityInfoWatch.com. I have been asked by the editor of this publication to write a series of articles on the home technology industry for security professionals who can benefit and profit from adding this niche to their line of services.

Each month we will touch on one aspect of the industry and seek to provide real world answers on how you can engage customers who want the benefits of technology without all the hassle.

With each article, I hope you will gain greater insights into the opportunities provided by this exciting market. Our goal is help you learn some of the business and installation issues you may face as you expand into uncharted waters of doing "more than security". No matter the age or size of your company, I hope to provide you with tools that will help you run a more diverse and profitable business.

Before I get too deep into this, let me put forth a disclaimer. I am not a Harvard Business School MBA, or an accredited financial professional by any means. Please seek the advice of professionals before you take any steps that might impact your business either positively or negatively. Rather I am a senior fellow in the "School of Life" and I have "been there, done that" as they say. I even have a few T-shirts to prove it, too.

I won't bore you with a long list of my past responsibilities. Rather let me say I come from the same roots as many of you and fully understand the intricacies of running a small business.

So how do we define home technology? Perhaps we should begin with what it is not.

We all perceive life and our businesses through a paradigm. And from the paradigm of a small security dealer whose previous attempts to penetrate this "strange" market segment, you may perceive home technology as something to be avoided at all costs. You think it's expensive to buy and install, difficult to sell, impossible to make a profit from and that it requires programming more complex than the first Apollo mission to the moon.

Now let's get to the reality. Home technology is none of those things when properly designed, correctly installed and accurately programmed. The majority of your customers want technology packages that are simple to use, affordable and reliable. Nothing more, nothing less. (And isn't that your goal for security systems, too?) So when your systems meet or exceed these three goals, there is no reason to avoid home technology as one of the services your business offers.

Now that we have dispelled a few myths about home technology, let's look at what is possible and how you can expand your business into some new areas of expertise.

The home technology industry is diverse and consists of many different disciplines. For our purposes, I am going to break down home technology into 10 broad categories, starting with the familiar items that are tried and true for you.

• Security - Yes, good old security is home technology given the growth in products that do far more than just burglary and fire protection. Many of today's security systems expand to control a wide range of other technology options, such as HVAC and lighting. People are comfortable with gaining additional benefits from something they already own. Sell what you know and make it your entry point into more.

• Surveillance - Another product most of you are very familiar with. Many A/V companies are making new products that discreetly hide a surveillance camera and allow the image to be viewed from a TV and/or any web-connected PC. And it's a system that is easy to sell, install and train.

• Home Automation - What if you could provide your customers with a single system that when smoke is detected, not only would it notify the central fire station, but automatically shuts down air handlers to keep toxic fumes from spreading, while lighting an exit path to safety for the family? Or a security system that when set to "Away", turns down the thermostats, turns off the lights and sets lighting timers based upon sunset to function until the family comes home? Home automation is not always fancy keypads and RS-232 computer codes.

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