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

• Structured Wiring - A fancy phrase for a home electronic wiring infrastructure that provides the path for different types of signals, such as audio and Wi-Fi access points. There are many manufacturers of quality components and wire to choose from, particularly if you are in the new residential marketplace.

• Whole House Music - The name says it all. Customers want music to be available in many different rooms of the house thanks to the have-it-with-you-at-all-times craze that the iPod helped create. In-wall and In-ceiling speakers make it unobtrusive, recent technology advances make it easy to control and price points are far more affordable than in the past.

• Home Theater - Not the big dedicated rooms on the covers of the magazines, but multi-purpose rooms that allow the family to experience movies, games and TV on large flat panel displays with surround sound systems. People are not waiting for their old TV to go bad before buying plasmas and LCD TVs. Manufacturers are ratcheting up their capacity to meet demand and prices are falling rapidly.

• Lighting Control - This is one of the least-served market segments in both new and retrofit markets. Once people are exposed to the benefits of lighting control, they will buy and expand their systems over the years, giving you opportunities for profit over the long haul. There are issues of licensing since this is high voltage work, but a smart dealer will partner with a qualified electrical contractor or obtain the correct licensing to create profit from this underserved market segment.

• Home Networking - Using the wiring infrastructure you have already installed, here is another opportunity. In the very near future, every electronic component will be Ethernet-enabled and web accessible, so now is the time to begin learning as much as you can about this technology. Key manufacturers realize this and are now making simple to install and program routers and network components designed for the home market. Plus Microsoft and Intel are very interested in this market, so learning more about networking makes huge business sense.

• Telephone Systems - Advanced hybrid systems that are virtually plug-and-play can carry multiple lines, include voice mail for each family member and support a home office easily. Today's systems are affordable, easy to use and program and make sense for busy homeowners. Plus these systems make good use of the structured wiring you have already installed, increasing the need for the right wires in the right places.

• Central Vac - Excuse me, vacuum is a technology? Well, not in the strictest sense of the word, but this is a profit center that you should take a very close look at. Especially since you are already in a new house installing other systems, why not rough-in the piping for a central vacuum as well? Builders particularly are looking for a one-call solution to the installation of home systems, so adding this line makes sense.

So do you agree with my definitions and categories? Are you intrigued by the ideas shared here? What changes might you contemplate for your organization? Can it really be this simple? Only you can answer those questions, and I hope you will ponder them before the New Year begins and add the technology systems that make sense to your business plan.

Put aside your fears about home technology and look closely into the realities of what can be done in today's homes simply, reliably, predictably and profitably. Demand is going to do nothing but skyrocket and now is the time to enter this lucrative market when the potential for revenue and profit are at the highest levels.

Next month we will talk about the traits that a home technology dealer must posses in order to be successful. I look forward to sharing more of my ideas with you then.

About the author: Keith Davis is Senior Dealer-to-Builder (D2B) Manager for AVAD, a leading U.S. distributor of custom home electronics. He can be reached via email at d2bmanager@avadd2b.com.