Exec Interview: Ring Looks to Engage Pros With New Installer Initiative
Company leaders reveal how what has been a DIY-oriented business, that expanded into security systems and surveillance cameras, is actively growing its pro install channel.
Beyond alarm monitoring, are there any other recurring revenue services that are or can be attached to the Ring portfolio?
HARRIS: We focus on making our pricing and what we do very transparent and simple. We have our Ring Protect Plus plan, which is $10 a month, $100 a year, and basically that’s it to get professional monitoring for both burglary and fire protection. You also get unlimited camera storage and support. If you just have a single camera, you can get that for $3 a month or $30 a year. Beyond that individual camera plan, it’s the all-inclusive Protect Plus plan. It is that simple.
VLOYANETES: You can also start and stop that plan at any time. If you were going away on vacation for two months, travel around the world, you can turn it on if you wanted it for those two months. If you want to just self-monitor and not pay, you can do that as well. It does not place handcuffs on the customer or the neighbor, allowing them to be directive in how they want to do the monitoring or video recording.
HARRIS: It comes back to treating our customers like they’re neighbors. We call them neighbors because they’re people that live down the street. That’s who they are. For us, it’s doing what we would want, what our neighbors would want. Simple, transparent and giving them choices. Oftentimes, they may start with self-monitoring and then realize, “You know, I can’t answer my phone 24/7. I can’t get those notifications. I think maybe I do need professional monitoring.” That’s something they can select when it’s right for them.
Let’s talk more about the new pro installer initiative as Ring had a big presence at the CEDIA show, and I expect also will at ISC West. To what extent is Ring looking to partner with security dealers and the like?
VLOYANETES: Our goal going into CEDIA this year was to show up in a genuine way with a multifaceted approach of increased booth space, more products, more demos and more staff there. We also did a host of trainings that we had never done before, showing pro installers why Ring is good for business and the benefits in having Ring in that portfolio of offerings. We spent a lot of time talking to industry professionals there to garner feedback. The show was great for us as it was really the jumping-off point for the announcement of our Ring Partner program, where we are now actively recruiting participants.
We’re going to fully launch the program in the beginning of 2020, when you’ll really hear more about the offerings and engagements. It will include items like margin enhancements and getting installers hot leads from neighbors who need a professional installer, along with stuff to support their business, free products and support for events like neighborhood parties. We’re really there to help support them, and doing so through recently hired, dedicated staff. For the security channel, we have aligned with ADI and Anixter as distribution partners.
There had been a lot of grief in the pro install channel due to the onslaught of DIY, but sentiment now seems to be there’s enough business for everyone, and the more favorable do-it-for-me market will be significant. How do you see it shaking out?
HARRIS: I’ve never met an installer that wants a difficult install and to spend more time in a house. For us, if we can make it easy to install, that’s great for everybody. We don’t look at it as a pure DIY where this is a product and the pro installers need not apply it. No, let’s make this super, super easy. If we can make tools and continue to offer more benefits for installers to make it an efficient process for them to get in, be successful, and then get out and move on to the next customer, that’s great.
VLOYANETES: The installers I’ve talked to that are doing Ring say, “Hey, our customers are asking for it and it is opening up new clients that we may not have talked to prior, being that is a lower price point both on the monetary and the hardware.” They’re telling us that instead of doing one job a day, they’re now doing three jobs a day. The referrals that come off of more jobs ultimately will give them more business. It is a win-win solution. The other part is that once that helps get an installer into a home, they then have the opportunity to talk to them about other products and services throughout the house. I think Ring helps installers gain that important entry into the home.
Can you delve into Ring’s “neighbor” concept and the Neighbors App?
HARRIS: Everybody is constantly on the go and that makes it hard for neighborhoods to have the sense of community that may have existed decades ago. With the Neighbors App we launched in May 2018, we are trying to bring communities closer together. With the mission of supporting safer neighborhoods, it really is compelling to have a closer-knit community that allows people to communicate and look out for each other. It’s something people may have initially scoffed at, but it’s been embraced and has become a well-loved feature of what we do here at Ring.
Now, being able to use that as a tool to engage and bring local law enforcement and first responders into the community as well, that’s very compelling. Everybody’s always trying to have better relationships with first responders within the community, and so anything we can do to help that is super beneficial.
What of the backlash covered in the media about privacy concerns?
HARRIS: Our founder, Jamie Siminoff, recently put out a blog on that because some of the things people were saying indicated they may not have necessarily understood how our system really works. User privacy and security are at the center of what we do. Having that trust with our neighbors is crucial. The fact is only our neighbors have access to their devices, if they choose in their app none of the information is shared. It’s completely up to our neighbors as far as what they do and how they use it, but it’s a tool for them to be elective to participate more broadly.
What about voice control, where Amazon plays big? Will it become the de facto interface throughout the smart home?
HARRIS: There’s no question it’s a very compelling user experience. As with video doorbells, 10 years ago nobody was saying, “This market for a speaker people can talk to, that can be huge.” It’s another one of those things that we found a need and it’s really been incredible to see what our friends in Amazon have been able to do. I think voice control will grow as people get more comfortable with it. We’re seeing a huge uptake in people who are arming and disarming the security system via voice or asking on a screen-based device to see what’s happening outside. It won’t be the only interface; we have a huge amount of interaction with our app and many people use our convenient keypads. It’s battery-operated and so you can stick it right next to the door. So it will be a mix.
VLOYANETES: It’s great to have a multimodal approach that allows people to interact with the technology the way they want. My parents use their phone to do everything with their smart home, but in my house my wife and I never have any idea where our phone is. We leave it on the charger, my kids may be playing with it, and so I love the voice control using Alexa.
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