Putting DIY to Work for Professional Integrators

Sept. 13, 2019
Do-it-with-me is making security experts more important than ever

Some analysts and industry experts have compared the professional security installer to an endangered species – a dinosaur soon to be obliterated by the massive twin meteors of Amazon (Ring) and Google (Nest)…with extinction to follow. But a funny thing happened on the way to the tar pits – security pros began to adapt and evolve. Many are not just surviving alongside the new DIY model, but thriving.

Progressive residential security integrators incorporate the best aspects of DIY – such as simple installs and easy-to-upgrade systems – while also recognizing and helping where DIY falls short, like customer service and expertise at integrating multiple, complex systems.

These savvy professionals are creating a new market niche – the Do-It-With-Me model.

The Complexity of a Smart Home

The commercials make it seem so simple: A video doorbell communicates effortlessly with the screen of a smartphone or tablet. What the ad fails to mention is that installing the doorbell requires an amp meter and some knowledge of electrical wiring; in fact, almost one in five DIY amateur installers say their system or equipment does not work properly after installation.

From robotic vacuums to internet-connected clocks, lights, doorbells, speakers, window blinds, ovens, baby monitors and cooking utensils, the consumer today faces a daunting range of choices. Which of these gadgets – some of which run on Wi-Fi, some on ZigBee and others on Z-Wave – can play nice together? How many different apps will it take to control all these different aspects of the home? Even the bravest DIY-er soon realizes there is no definitive playbook.

Although sales of video doorbells and other smart home security products have been growing exponentially, a surprising number of devices are returned to retailers only gently used, or not used at all. Complexity and difficulty are the No. 1 reason customers return DIY systems after activation.

Maintaining the Smart Home

The marketing for automated home security systems tends to focus on the promise of these technologies – and the way things look when everything is humming along perfectly. But real life has a way of confounding those rosy scenarios. The truth is, automated security systems need more than a one-time installation – they require ongoing maintenance, firmware updates and monitoring. This means that a system that once worked harmoniously can easily fall out of tune.

A consumer who has purchased smart security products may capable of getting a system up and running after hours of reading, research and  YouTube tutorials; however, what happens when that consumer’s dog knocks a sensor loose, and the system starts emitting an annoying beeping sound?

While some DIY-ers might have the time and the bandwidth to install, maintain, optimize and set up their system more than once, those people will be in the minority; in fact, most consumers probably will not know they have done something wrong until it’s too late.

In the end, peace of mind is a large aspect of the security industry – something that gadgets alone cannot offer.

Monetizing the New Model

Some progressive security installers we work with are learning to monetize the latest trends in security – even the rise of DIY products – and new technologies are making installation faster and easier than it was in the past, which should translate into a savings of time and manpower.

For example, in the past, acquiring a new customer involved two separate visits to the home – one call for sales and another for installation. Security professionals today are able to accomplish the same outcome with a single visit. After making a sale, the integrator can immediately begin installation, working side-by-side with the customer as security devices enroll on the network, in a consultative sales model that leads to happier customers and more robust revenue.

Some residential integrators are taking this concept a step further, and are leveraging the DIY movement to set up digital storefronts where customers can assemble their own custom kits to fit their unique needs. The professional can then pre-provision the hub and sensors and send it as a package for the customer to install themselves, since many sensors are now peel-and-stick. This saves a truck roll for the professional and a day off work for the customer.

In my experience, if a security integrator has 100 sales prospects, expect about 15 to sign on the dotted line right away, while the other 85 say “not right now.”

Because modern security systems are easily customized and upgraded, the integrator no longer has to write off that 85 percent as a loss; instead, they can offer an introductory version of the system for a lower cost, with an expectation that it will be upgraded later. Start the customer with a Video Doorbell; within the next few months they’ll be asking for additional cameras, door and window sensors, and smart thermostats to complete their system.

New technologies have offered new flexibility when it comes to installation and pricing, and forward-looking businesses are using that flexibility to boost the bottom line.

The Professional’s Changing Role

Today's security professionals have the opportunity to become tomorrow’s smart home security consultants, and importantly, they are better positioned to offer this service than Big Box stores or online retailers offering DIY solutions. That is important, because the definition of security is changing as the market grows. Sometimes being able to see who is home, what they are doing, and when they leave is enough. There’s value in that for today's consumers, and smart home security consultants stand ready to benefit.

Security pros may need to make some changes in order to evolve. But progressive installers are embracing growth and new opportunities. When they do, they find that their consumers will need them far into the future.

Russell Vail is EVP of Market Development for smart home and security provider Alula. Learn more about the company at www.securityinfowatch.com/12070939.

About the Author

Russell Vail

Russell Vail is EVP of Market Development for smart home and security provider Alula. Learn more about the company at www.securityinfowatch.com/12070939.