Automation Brings More Business Home

Technology and consumer interest have advanced to bring about real opportunities for security contractors that offer home automation and entertainment products and services. Get up to speed on in-demand offerings with surefire tips to please customers.

The landscape for opportunities in the security industry has changed. Consumers are looking for solutions for home control and energy management that are opening doors for security dealers. These dealers are faced with the decision to embrace these challenges and become more educated with an updated skill set or remain stagnant and watch as these new opportunities go to competitors. Some dealers have adjusted and are offering a variety of additional services.

Many dealers are having fun in this environment. They are selling solutions by being the problem solver for their customers’ needs and becoming the first call the end user makes when a change or addition is being considered. If you have a trusted mechanic, you wouldn’t get three bids when you need car repair. Dealers need to foster that same relationship with their client base.

Having the security dealer be the first call when an end user is considering a whole-house audio system or the addition of lighting, is a bridge that many dealers haven’t crossed. It is essential that dealers convey the full array of services they can offer.

Uncovering Automation Possibilities

The term automation can bring up preconceived ideas to homeowners, as well as dealers, as being expensive and hard to operate; whereas the terms control and energy management are understood and accepted. A common misconception among consumers is that they do not have a need for automation.

Convey to them that the simple task of ramping up lighting to 90% instead of the typical “snap on to 100%” is a form of energy-saving automation. Another simple automation task is turning on an inside light for a period of time when the garage door is opened. The security contact for the garage door is the trigger and a Powerline Control Systems’ (PCS) light switch can be the output. It has a built-in timer to accomplish this convenient task. Setting up the outdoor sprinkler system not to come on if it has rained is another simple control option that adds convenience for a consumer.

Offer to care about what the end user cares about. This information may not be readily evident, but during a probing conversation or by walking the jobsite, it will reveal itself to the trained eye. Look for opportunities to expand your business and increase profits while making life more comfortable and convenient for the customer.

The most successful dealers are the ones that take the time to break down the benefits of automation into layman’s terms. Overwhelming the customer with your technical knowledge can leave the wrong impression of the end result. We all want those timesaving, convenient, comfortable and fun things to live with. Enthusiastically explaining solutions to things customers care about wins jobs.

Valuable Functions Meet User Needs

Automation provides the ability to monitor many things that are important to customers. A text message or E-mail can be sent to advise of low water levels in a koi pond, fountain or pool using a water sensor from manufacturers such as George Risk Industries (GRI). Backyard entertainment is another way to increase sales. Landscape lighting is easily accomplished via PCS lighting with UPB technology and can be controlled with a simple app. Outdoor speakers are an affordable addition as well.

Offering additional options sets a dealer apart from the “two doors and a motion” competitors. For perimeter security, install motion sensors that can trigger indoor voice notification as well as outdoor lighting, which in turn can be beneficial to a CCTV system. Maybe CCTV wasn’t even a part of the initial security bid, but offering this integrated solution can make all the difference to a woman who is home alone. The ability to view this camera from an iPad while lying in bed can provide the homeowner with a glimpse of a passing deer or other wildlife, as well as deter a possible intruder. Selling the fun gives the equipment a dual purpose, which has more value.

Assisted-living applications are another growing market that can benefit from the technology the security industry has been using for years. Automating lighting and voice feedback for time and temperature for the blind, flashing lights for the deaf when a doorbell or phone rings, or offering remote viewing of a loved one over the Web are all readily available and affordable technologies.

For example, an ELK M1 Gold control system was recently installed in the home of a quadriplegic man to help him gain independence living in his own home. Among other things, the system enabled him to get a glass of water with a voice command through the use of a simple contact closure on a relay.

When it comes to energy management, solar pricing is still out of reach of many budgets, but the concept of going “green” and saving on energy bills is on everyone’s mind. The security system is a natural trigger for predetermined set-points on a thermostat when armed to “Away” mode. It is easy to add more substantial energy savings when arming in “Vacation” mode.

Lighting systems have long been offered by electricians and the high-end integrators. Team up with local electricians and offer to do the design and programming while they make their money on the installation. A system can be as simple as two switches. Advantages to the customer are a lived-in look, remote access to the lights and ALL OFF commands. These all can occur based on the security system’s internal clock, inputs and armed state. Another lighting option is to create a lit pathway during a fire alarm.

Controlling gates is another great automation upsell opportunity. Pool gates, or any gate for that matter, are a threat to anyone who has small children or a dog. A switch (such as those from GRI) connected to a wireless contact can communicate to the homeowner that the gate has opened.

Handheld devices have provided an opportunity to use an app to meet the client’s needs at an affordable price. A customer can use his iPod Touch to turn on the bedside lamp, check that the garage door is closed and adjust the ceiling fan … all while lying in bed. This convenient and easy-to-use technology is simple to install and provides a WOW factor to the customer.

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