Expanding to Home Technologies, Part 4: Making Money with Packages

How to plan and deliver custom home packages without all the custom work

[Editor's note: SecurityInfoWatch.com columnist Keith Davis will be speaking as part of the NBFAA's Business Focus: "How Smart Businesses Grow" seminar on June 14-15 in Indiapolis. More information on that conference is available from the NBFAA.]

In the past few columns we have looked at some of the basics of home technology and examined how you as a security dealer can get involved in this growing field. This month, let's focus on the idea of "technology packages". It's a concept I believe to be key to achieving long term success for any home electronics dealer, large or small.

Think back to the benefits I outlined that a customer must see before they embrace the concept of technology in their homes. Then consider these three points.

#1 - Anyone who uses home technology must believe first and foremost that their system is simple to use and will work as promised. Nothing frustrates like trying to accomplish what was implied to be an easy task.

#2 - The technology system must act and perform predictably each and every time it is powered on for use. Consistency should be your mantra.

#3 – The technology system must be foolproof. The client must have confidence that their system is as dependable as their microwave oven and they must not be scared to use it for fear of "breaking" it.

Wonderful, you think. I get all excited about this technology thing and here is a bucket of cold water in my face. What is expected by the customer is impossible to create and there is no way anyone can achieve those three demands on a consistent basis. My reply to your thinking? WRONG!

Not only is it possible, it is actually easier than you think when you approach home technology in the same manner as you install security systems. Simply put, it means you sell and install one system at a time, using the same equipment each and every time. In other words, you create a package of equipment, design, programming and installation that can be repeated time and time again.

Let's compare this concept to your security business. More than likely you use one brand of panels that has worked well for you in the past. Likewise, you probably do the same with the contacts and other detectors a modern security system uses. Even the wire you use is the same every time. And now that you have installed a few, you should have a good sense of what is required for each job in the way of materials, labor time, programming and the time required to train the end user on the system. While you may not have all of this documented on paper (if not, then you should!), you still have this packaged mentality that for a house of this size, this is what is required to sell and install this system.

Home technology categories are no different. The only difference is the type of equipment included in the package. From whole-house music to central vacuums, a package of gear, labor and profits can be created to meet 95 percent of a client's needs and wants for technology systems in their home.

Let's look at an example. Your research has determined that there is a made market for a whole-house music system with four rooms of sound at a price point of X. What has to happen before we can propose to our client what will be installed?

First, decide on the type of system you want to install and then choose the right gear from the right manufacturer. This is a very critical first step and a lot of time and diligence should be spent in the selection process. Next, based upon your choice of system type and controller, what kind of speakers will be used? Then what sources? How will the system be controlled? How much wire will be required? How much labor and by what type of installer? How much profit is needed? And on and on the questions go during this design phase. Again let me emphasize, you must go through this segment BEFORE meeting any client or installing any wire and cable.

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