Dealers are differentiating themselves from the competition by promoting new home control features a

Robert Dozier, president of Global Security in Columbus, Ohio, has installed a system that allows the homeowner to pick up a cellular phone, or use another phone from work to check on the system’s status and even turn on the lights.

Simplicity and convenience are the top two incentives, from a customer’s perspective, in bringing integrated systems into his/her home, according to Parks Associates in Dallas. The third is energy management savings.

So for consumers, integrated systems are at their best when they can disarm the security system, turn on lights, and reset the heating to an occupied mode by simply pressing a button on a wireless key while walking up to their house.

A homeowner wants and can certainly buy into the simplicity and convenience of home automation; however, the real opportunity and challenge for the security industry is to show consumers how an integrated system means better security. That’s exactly what Dozier did for the frightened homeowner.

Thanks to emerging technology, there are several ways you can offer convenience without sacrificing simplicity. Dealers are differentiating themselves from the competition by promoting new home control features and being creative when designing individual whole-house systems. Traditional marketing, such as yellow-page ads and direct-mail pieces, as well as making appearances at home improvement shows are effective promotional tools.

Creative Engineering, Selling Promote Home Automation

Strides in technology, such as surface-mounted devices, ASIC technology, and communications between system components and system-to-system networks, have simplified the integration of equipment.

Of course, once you’ve got that kind of power in a security system, you obviously can change the characteristics of the system, creating almost limitless possibilities and enabling end users to control the system manually, by schedule or by event.

“Be creative,” suggests John Fenton, owner of Ultimate Security in Sacramento, Calif.

And that’s exactly how alarm dealers are not only increasing sales, but demonstrating to consumers that an integrated system means convenience and better security.

Fenton has a customer in the Bay area, an avid skier who goes up to his cabin on weekends in the winter. On Friday, he’ll call the vacant cabin and turn on his hot tub outside and his heat inside. When he arrives, the house will be warm. If not for the energy management system, he would have to keep it on all week long, which would mean outrageous heating bills. “It basically pays for itself,” says Fenton.

New Home Control Features Help Differentiate Dealers

New software-based systems and manufacturing technologies have given us the capability of merging automation control, CCTV, security, fire, lighting control, HVAC and intercom into the average home and small business. The technology is clearly bringing different industries together. It’s also gaining market share because it’s inexpensive and user friendly.

Humphries says he now is able to offer integrated intercom systems as well as home automation at minimal cost into a home that previously would not have fit into that category.

In addition to cost savings opening doors, home automation is getting easier to use as our whole society becomes more technically oriented.

“Everybody knows how to use a computer,” says Fenton. “I tell potential customers that if they can use an ATM, they can use a security system.”

If installers are going to compete with mass-marketers who offer “front door, back door and a motion detector” at no-cost or a low cost, they must provide their customers with more value. Some installers will, of course, continue using the mass-market strategy and manufacturers will continue to support them with traditional burglar alarm systems. But installers competing with the mass- marketers need more.

“Being a small business owner, it’s difficult to compete against the bigger companies,” says Dozier. “The new features, such as partitioning, paging and home automation, enable me to compete.”

“It made us different,” says Humphries. “We’re not just Indiana Security. We do more. It changed our image for the good making us look more progressive in what we offer.”

Of course, once you have the capability, you have to let people know about the capability and the fact that it is available. Alarm dealers are using many of the traditional methods such as yellow-page ads, newspaper ads, newsletters, direct mail and newsletters. Some dealers have even put their information out on the web.

“We started with our current builder base,” says Humphries. “In new homes and new construction, people are looking for new things and new technology. We chose that as our starting point.”

Thanks to emerging technology, merging markets and manufacturers who have a vision for the future, some dealers already are bringing integrated systems into every one of those homes that installs security. Although the industry may still call an integrated system a security system, those who are taking advantage of its added capabilities today know better.

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