Smart locks made simple

April 22, 2021
Once seen as difficult to install, connected locks are now making the lives of homeowners easier while simultaneously boosting integrators' bottom lines
This article also appears in Access Control Trends & Technologies 2021, a bonus publication to Security Business and Security Technology Executive magazines.

When considering why homeowners purchase technology products for their home, one must consider the principal drivers behind the purchase. These days, simplicity and convenience are paramount – particularly at a time when the pandemic has already complicated so much. Today, while stuck at home, many homeowners are working on projects that will make life less stressful and make their homes more secure. And many of these projects involve connected devices like smart locks.

Even the most tech-savvy customer wants technology that is going to improve their day-to-day living today and in the future. A 2019 smart lock audience segmentation study conducted by Kwikset found that even “tech enthusiasts” were looking for “durable, tech-savvy locks to make life more connected.” They wanted “long-lasting, durable” locks” that “bring convenience to life, so they should be easy to install, too.”

Not surprisingly, the same study found that “everyday fixers” (who are described as suburban homeowners who take care of their home their way) were also interested in “durable, functional locks” and “convenience.”

Simplicity can take many forms in a smart lock. But each of these simplicity-enhancing features and benefits can be a key factor in selling these devices and growing the connected side of a dealer’s security business.

Simplicity of Design

According to a 2020 Smart Door Lock study conducted by Parks Associates, “Strong product design instantly communicates the added value of a connected product. Design differentiates, validates value, and contributes heavily to the user experience.”

Most people don’t want to bring the latest technological device into their home if it’s going to detract from the home’s décor – if it is unattractive or calls attention to itself in a negative way. They might begrudgingly put up with a tangled mess of wires in order to get that perfect sound from their home theater, but they’d prefer if the wires were invisible, and the devices themselves attractive and sleek, but unobtrusive.

When it comes to the look of the lock itself, we find that buyers of smart locks fit into two main categories. Some, particularly those with a more traditional-looking home, want a smart lock that conveys a similar aesthetic to a traditional lock. These smart lock options can somewhat disguise the technological advances and are not overly disruptive in terms of design “language."

Others buyers do prefer a more forward-looking design, albeit a lock that is unobtrusive as well as sleek and modern. The Parks Associates study makes the point succinctly: “A simpler design can make the device appear less daunting to consumers unfamiliar with smart door locks, attracting more customers and enhancing the value of the product.”

Simplicity of Installation

Sometimes what is thought to be the complexity of smart locks by the dealers and technicians themselves can slow the growth of a smart lock business. For example, one of the reasons I’ve heard from those hesitant to grow their smart lock business is a perceived difficulty of installation. This perception couldn’t be further from reality. If you’ve ever installed a traditional deadbolt, or even if you haven’t, installing a smart lock is remarkable easy.

If you’re replacing a traditional mechanical deadbolt with a smart lock, then the hole you need for the smart lock already exists, the door is already chiseled, and the frame is already cut out.  Installing a smart lock is just as easy as swapping in a new deadbolt. And if it is a new door, it has arrived to you with a hole already in place, pre-cut.

The hole for the mechanical deadbolt works just as well for a smart lock. In fact, in some cases, the smart lock might be a better fit. Today’s smart locks increasingly feature smaller footprints and tapered parts, to help ensure that everything fits, and the door closes correctly. 

If the door doesn’t fit after installing a smart lock, odds are that there are issues with the door frame or jamb – not the lock. To address this potential issue, before the old/original deadbolt is removed the technician should ensure the bolt is free to move and does not bind up or have any issues closing freely. It is important to address any issues with the door frame or warping -- before the electronic deadbolt is installed.

And as for complicated electrical work, or wiring, there is none.  Smart locks are battery operated.  Popping in the battery is as easy as, well, popping in a battery.

After the smart lock is physically in place, the device can be ready to use without a lot of complex programming. This is especially true if the smart lock features one-touch programming, an advantage that serves to speed the installation process. This means that customers that expect the installation of their smart lock to be a time-consuming process can be relieved to learn just how quickly they can get their new device up and running.

Additional Benefits

Here are some additional benefits to zero in on when it comes to selling smart locks:

  • Uncluttered keyrings. Simplifying lives can mean eliminating clutter, including reducing the number of keys in the homeowner’s pocket. Smart lock users can store their key in a safe, out-of-the-way place because they can use a personal user code to enter the home. They can also assign a time-sensitive user code to whoever might need one and delete it when they see fit. In this way they are not passing out copies of keys to friends, relatives, caregivers and contractors – keys that can be lost or stolen.
  • Easy information. Smart locks connected to a home automation system can be empowered to maintain important information about their use and deliver it to a controlling device. In this way, they can provide homeowners with an audit trail of who has been granted access to their homes, and when. Homeowners can even receive notification via text message of when their loved ones have arrived home safely, or when the painters came and when they left.
  • Converting customers. Converting customers to smart lock customers has never been easier than with the addition of the latest smart lock conversion kits. These products turn mechanical locks into smart, electronic locks by replacing the interior half of the existing lock without changing the exterior. These products appeal to design-focused homeowners who want the convenience of keyless entry and home automation while maintaining the style of the front door and/or matching an existing handleset.

About the Author:

As North American Sales Manager for Kwikset Residential Access Solutions, Nick English is responsible for management of all sales and distribution through Pro Security channels, including sales and performance management of Territory Sales Managers and Key Account Managers.