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

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

Fast forward to the day when you are ready to meet your first potential client. You have an appointment with the Smiths to discuss a security system and other technology elements for their new home. You determine that your whole-house music package meets their needs and wants exactly and now they are sold on using your company to install it. Your proposal was perfect; they love you and the systems you are going to install. Now comes the time for rough-in wiring. Your crew goes in and runs the wiring. Later, at the appropriate times, you install the speakers, hook up the controllers and sources and test the system for proper operation. The music sounds great, but there are a few minor glitches that need to be ironed out. You correct the errors and then show the Smiths their new system. They are thrilled and just love hearing their music played throughout the house. Job well done!

The next client contacts you and this time, wants a six-room music system. Are you going to redesign a new system again? NO! Take the four-room package you created above and just expand it to six rooms. You know it works, you know the time it took to install, you know its idiosyncrasies, so this time install the base package, add the gear required to add rooms five and six and walk away with profit in your pocket because you knew exactly what to do and did not have to guess.

Now will this one package meet every client's need? Certainly not, but you can design various levels of packages based upon different criteria. Price points and levels of control functions are two factors, as are speaker sizes and types. In other words, when it is all said and done, you might have five or more different packages that you can use to sell to each type of client based upon their wants, needs and budgets.

A wise business person also prepares several upgrade paths for each package as well. These are elements that can be added to a base package to better fit a client's particular needs and expectations. Using two levels of upgrades provides the client with the ability to either select a better value, such as more rooms of music at a lower cost per room, or a more exclusive upgrade such as larger speakers that provide the best music reproduction. These pre-designed upgrades will give you the ability to up-sell the client with little or no effort on your part.

Now that you have created several whole-house music packages, can new packages also be created for the other technology disciplines we talked about in the first column? That is affirmative, and it makes sense to do so now before the first client seeks out your services and expertise. Go through the design process again and again, deciding on the right gear from the right sources that make sense for your business. Come up with the upgrade paths that make sense based upon the demographic of customer you will be meeting.

Here's a novel idea: Buy the gear and install it in your office or home and learn everything you can about it before selling it. There is no better way to figure out if the package meets the simple, predictable, reliable test than having it in your place of business or home. Plus you can tell the client you live with the stuff too! That's a great selling point.

Does all this make sense? It should and I hope you will test the waters of home technology in a small way at first with a package of technology gear installed at your current operation. Get comfortable with the concept and then grow and nurture new systems in your home or office. Then go sell, sell, sell and watch the profits roll in that can be made when you install what you know, not what you guess at.

Oh by the way, what about that 5 percent of clients who want more than a packaged approach to technology? My advice, leave them to the custom installer in your town. This is their area of expertise and best left to those with the design and engineering staff who can meet the unique challenges of the custom world. As for you, smile all the way to the bank depositing real profit dollars created by using a packaged approach to technology sales.

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.