How to Boost Sales and RMR With Smart Home Services
Three experts reveal how embracing the latest trends and technology from the front porch to garage can drive more sales and RMR.
The on-demand economy is here to stay. This is creating an on-demand environment for managing people, places and things in the home.
Fortunately, there is an ever-increasing array of devices — such as video doorbells, cameras, smart locks, lighting, integrated garage openers and more — to facilitate control of a home’s exterior, entryways and perimeter, as well as user-friendly interfaces and apps that allow remote, interactive access.
This represents a huge opportunity for security dealers to offer these growing product categories, sell bundled packages and add new services to substantially boost overall sales as well as recurring monthly revenue.
However, jumping in without a smart strategy on product selection, installation and service can degrade the customer experience and impact a dealer’s foundational security services.
Three experts in the field — Xfinity Home Executive Director of Product Management Derrick Dicoi, Preventia Founder Aaron Whitaker and Alarm.com Director of Product Management Abe Kinney — answer five key questions.
Respectively spanning the large provider, small dealer and supplier spectrum, they speak to the overall market, product selection, important features, profit margins and partnering considerations.
With soaring consumer demand for smart home devices like video doorbells and locks, etc., how should dealers view the opportunity? Is it about add-on hardware sales or something bigger?
AARON WHITAKER: It is something bigger. Security was the main driver five to seven years ago that our prospects were interested in, and the main reason for buying. It was an add-on just for more the niche customers that were really interested in smart home devices and the ones that were willing to pay more for that.
Our strategy has evolved that in our base package you have the complete capability to do smart home devices. About a year ago, we made an indoor camera part of the base package as well. We know you kind of want it and we know that once you get it you’ll really enjoy it. So rather than making it a hurdle for you to buy in the beginning, that buying decision, we just put it in to make it standard.
We’ve seen a much higher adoption rate and much higher number of people adding those extra devices on top of the package as well. Without any real hard numbers the driving factor for them to get a system is probably about half and half, whether it’s really security or it’s all the smart home devices.
DERRICK DICOI: There are two sides. One is the upfront sales, whether it’s including the base kit or however you can get something out the door. We’ve seen having the camera base kit or offering the camera upfront you can really move customers up the chain and drive incremental revenue.
The camera seems to be a magic device today. There’s also over time, as customers learn and sort of experience it and they say, “I get it.” They’re willing to buy those other devices over time. I think the trick is finding a way to help customers understand the rich experiences they get. Then figuring out creative ways to offer that, whether it’s financing, something else, to get it in the home.
We’re trying a number of things and continuing to evolve how we talk to the customers, what are the right words, what is the right messaging, what are the right devices. We see about 30% of our new customers want the video doorbell. It’s going to be a bigger and bigger opportunity over time.
ABE KINNEY: With so much of the on-demand economy happening at the front door, there’s a little bit of a race on to figure out who can own that property. So if you are not thinking about that, sooner or later, you can come back to that property and know they got that from another service provider — one that is not so friendly to the security industry.
With the flood of brands and devices out there now, how do you keep up and vet which ones you want to go with?
KINNEY: Certainly, there’s a lot of great features and capabilities out there but I haven’t seen that there’s one killer feature in any one product category. We’re trying to evaluate things across not only their feature capabilities but also installability and supportability. We’re going in with a contract and a professional service, with the mindset of how to make sure the product is going to survive that lifecycle and offer an experience to the customer that’s really great.
DICOI: We think of it in a similar way. What are the key categories that customers want? Where do we see demand? Let’s make sure in each of those categories we satisfy the customer. Maybe it’s one or two devices, but we give some choice. We work to find the right players in each of those spaces.
It’s really about putting one or two or three of these devices together in a way where you can have a conversation with your customer on the phone or online about the rich experience. What are the right devices you can stitch together to deliver what customers seek? You really have to build a bridge to customers and fill in the categories and devices that make sense for you in your portfolio.
WHITAKER: We do primarily Honeywell systems. I can tell Honeywell what I’d like but they’re ultimately going to do what they want. I’m looking at what Honeywell has in their pipeline, which products they’re going to choose. Then we’re at a second level on the decision-making process of whether we’re going to bring that in, train our sales team, train our installers and start offering that.
We want our process, from sales to using the system, for our customers to be as easy as possible. That door lock might be what the manufacturer is pushing and recommending, but if it isn’t as easy to use or has some setbacks compared to this other one then it is not for us.
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