How to Effectively Sell, Deploy and Maintain These Smart Home Trends
Experts delve into the latest trends and vendor offerings in the residential smart locks and energy management market.
Mobile-based smart technologies have pretty much redefined life as we once knew it. Demand has never been higher for smart devices, and with good reason. Convenience coupled with increased security is tough to pass up, which is why so many consumers are raising their smart technology IQ and opting for goods and services that make their busy lives a bit easier and a lot more secure.
As referenced on MarketsandMarkets.com, the research report, “Smart Home Market by Product, Software & Services, and Region – Global Forecast to 2024,” projects that the smart home market is expected to grow from $76.6 billion (U.S.) in 2018 to $151.4 billion by 2024, at a CAGR of 12.02%.
According to the report, this growth is being driven by several factors, including: a large base of Internet users and increased adoption of smart devices; the high importance of home monitoring from remote locations; a rise in the need for energy-saving and low carbon emission solutions; the rapid proliferation of smartphones and smart gadgets; market players focusing on expanding their adoption in smart home product portfolios; and the widespread concern about safety, security and convenience in the smart home market.
For dealers and integrators looking to ramp up revenues (and who isn’t?), the decision to offer smart solutions is, quite simply, the smart thing to do. The time has never been better for dealers and integrators to maximize the opportunities of smart locks and energy management.
Here, several successful integrators explain why, examining in-depth the business potential of smart locks followed by a glimpse into emerging energy management opportunities, as well.
John Prince, founder & president of Five Smooth Stones Audio Video & More in Jacksonville, Fla., notes, “We live in a smartphone app-based society. Anything that can more effectively connect the home to our digital lifestyle is in increasing demand.”
Mark Buzzard, president and CEO of Liberty Bell Smart Home in Sacramento, Calif., agrees that demand has never been hotter for smart locks, referencing that about 75% of his customers are requesting them.
“They become part of people’s daily routines,” he says. “They want that ability to be able to lock or unlock their doors remotely and at the touch of a button. With smart locks, they can let in a houseguest, or housekeeper, or anyone who’s working temporarily in their house. It’s convenient, it eliminates the need for keys, and it’s changed the way people gain entrance.”
The most common residential applications are front, back and garage doors, along with pool gates. The added security smart locks provide also hasn’t gone unnoticed by consumers. Raymond North, director, service platforms for ADT points out that, “Smart locks are an integral part of front door security and provide an exterior layer of defense before a perimeter breach.
Customers can check to ensure their doors are locked remotely and/or provide access to someone that might need to be let in. When the lock is fully integrated into the smart home platform, the user can create automations and routines.
As an example, North explains that the user can create an automation to lock all the doors by 9:30 a.m. after everyone has left the home for the day, or set doors to unlock during an emergency so first responders can more easily get into the home.
Marie Devlin, director of operations for Bravas, a nationwide luxury home technology integrator, points to some other advantages of smart locks, such as the flexibility and the ease of giving access to people when the user is not home, and still be able to monitor activity.
“Users don’t have to worry about losing the key and access can be given for limited periods of time. And, since smart locks integrate into a whole house system, it’s a natural upsell to give customers the ability to set up the locks in their system and create scenes with them. For example, a ‘good night’ scene where all video, audio and lights shut off, as well as all doors lock simultaneously,” she says.
North echoes the ease of upselling smart locks, giving most of the credit to the convenience they provide. “Although it is one of the higher-end devices a customer would add to their smart home ranging from $99 to $300 for entry-level locks, the convenience it provides can be realized immediately,” he contends. “It creates less worry about being locked out or having to be home to let someone in. Some locks feature auto unlock as you approach the door so that you don’t have to reach for your keys.”
Users also have the ability to set up an automation to disarm their security system when a door is unlocked.
An Easy Learning Curve
Dealers and integrators who haven’t previously installed or specified smart locks will be happy to hear that the learning curve is an easy one. Buzzard reports that it’s a super simple process, explaining that it only involves swapping out the deadbolt with a smart one, assigning it a code and pairing it to the smartphone.
Prince concurs that any tech with basic experience can install and configure these, but cautions that it is important to have the right security system platform that works well with these accessories.
So how can dealers and integrators best vet which manufacturers to align with? Devlin believes its wise to offer only a limited number of products in a line. This way you’re well-versed in the products offered, can explain their features and benefits to customers and become more efficient at what product is being installed.
Buzzard agrees. “As is the case with any product, you want to pick only a couple and not be everything to everybody. Align with good and reputable ones with good warranties and reviews,” he advises.
Prince adds, “Let the security system dictate which locks to specify, and use those that work best with the system you install. All of the major lock manufacturers offer Z-Wave or Zigbee locks, which are the two most common wireless comm protocols,” he says.
Outdoing the Do-It-Yourselfers
While many end users/consumers are opting for DIY products, Prince contends that the market is plenty ripe for professional dealers and integrators to keep a lion’s share of the business. “Our experience has shown that the real DIY market is much smaller than most believe. It’s really the ‘techy’ or the ‘enthusiast,’” he says. “We’ve found most consumers to be much more the ‘do-it-for-me’ or ‘DFM’ type. They’re willing to pay a pro a reasonable premium above purchasing and installing on their own, to not have to worry about it and know it will be done right.”
North adds that, even if lock products can be DIY, it’s important that the customer is aware of how to use the products and integrate them into their smart home ecosystem.
“They are easy to set up, but if the product isn’t integrated with anything else in your home, the user isn’t getting the most value out of the experience,” he points out. Dealers and integrators are well-poised to upsell smart locks and key selling points are convenience, peace of mind, confidence and remote mobile app control.
Smart Management Saves Energy
In Prince’s experience, energy management solutions have not yet seen the same type of demand as smart locks and are instead in the early adopter phase. Similarly, Devlin reports a slower uptick than that of smart locks, reasoning that consumers need to be educated and made aware of the possibilities of having it.
Prince adds, however, that for consumers who are passionate about green living, energy management systems can monitor energy usage and isolate energy wasters, allowing the consumer to adjust their consumption if desired.
At ADT, though, North is seeing an increased demand, stating that, “As utility prices continue to rise nationwide, consumers are looking for ways to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. We recently partnered with BH Management Services to outfit its residences with automated smart door locks and thermostats for its rental properties.”
He adds that energy management solutions can provide many benefits to residents. “The primary advantages are remote control of thermostats while you’re away and the ability to integrate multiple sensors throughout your home to optimize your energy usage,” says North. “You can set up schedules while you are away so that you are not using the AC when no one is home. You can set up vacation modes to adjust temperature when you are gone for extended periods of time. You can adjust the temperature based on the security panel’s awareness of the state of the home, specifically, when the system is armed to away [occupants have left for the day] or disarmed [occupants have returned].”
All are critical selling points for dealers and integrators looking to upsell with energy management.
Other perks consumers should consider, Buzzard adds, are the convenience, cost savings and peace of mind that can be gained. Users can have control of their thermostats from wherever they happen to be, in the event they forgot to shut things off. North notes that the most power-hungry systems in homes are HVAC, refrigerators, hot water heaters and pool/spa equipment.
“When a smoke alarm goes off, a smart thermostat can turn off the HVAC to limit the smoke being circulated throughout the home. And thermostat behavior can be tied to a security panel so that when the system is armed for away, it will automatically adjust the thermostat to that homeowner’s out-of-home temperature,” North adds.
Although energy management solutions may take a bit longer to take on serious sales traction, Prince offers these words of encouragement, “As energy costs increase, so will demand for these systems.”
Erin Harrington has 20+ years of editorial, marketing and PR experience within the security industry (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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