Don’t Blow the CVAC Opportunity
It may not be as sexy a technology to sell as smart home or even security solutions, but offering central vacuum systems could provide security pros a chance to really clean up with this attractive option for end users.
By the Editors of Security Sales & Integration
HOME SYSTEMS INTEGRATORS – and increasingly also homebuilders and homeowners – realize that the easiest, most economical time to add technology to a house is while it’s being built. Before the walls are up, all of the essential low-voltage networking, audio and control wiring – the elements that usually come to mind as a critical part of a prewire – can be installed several times faster and easier than had the wiring been added to finished space.
DataSmart, a systems integrator in the Houston area and sister company to Duncan Security, is taking the preconstruction installation strategy a step further by capitalizing on a less popular “prewire” component – a central vacuum system. Although central vacuum (central vac, or CVAC) has been available for decades, it’s one of the newest product categories to join DataSmart’s portfolio of high-tech home options, and during its seven years on the product roster, CVAC systems have played a significant role in the company’s increasing profitability.
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Though central vac may not be near the top of mind when thinking about a systems integrator’s stable of technologies and services, that doesn’t mean its impact should be underestimated. In fact, now could be the perfect time to push CVAC systems harder or enter the fray thanks to an improved builder market, greater emphasis on “lifestyle” products and continued solid margins.
Following DataSmart’s process of selling CVAC alongside its security, automation and audio/video systems as a template, let’s examine why enlisting this often overlooked category can help security installers suck in more profits. A sidebar hones in on the technology and tools involved for installation.
Design Centers Provide Hub for System Sales Process
According to DataSmart director of marketing Jaime Garza, sales of Beam/Electrolux built-in vacuum systems, along with structured wiring, lighting controls, home theater systems and security systems, represent at least a 25% growth in profits over the past two years. The built-in vacuum systems represent a key cog in the sales and design process as talk of one system naturally flows into talk of a CVAC addition.
“It just made sense that we offer them as part of a standard prewire plan,” says Garza of the company’s decision to delve into central vac systems. “During this phase of home construction we can discuss with customers where to put central vacuum inlets at the same time as we’re deciding with them on where to put HDMI jacks, for example.”
Presented in this fashion, the uptake on DataSmart’s Beam central vac offering has been better than expected. “We had originally thought that it would be an item that would appeal mainly to owners of custom homes, but it’s proven to be a popular request across the board, from owners of production homes to those building semicustom and custom homes,” Garza reports.
DataSmart attributes much of its central vacuum success to a unique sales strategy of locating its own design centers and sales staff inside the design centers or adjacent to the design centers of many of the area’s leading homebuilders, including Ryland Homes, Beazer Homes, Taylor Morrison Homes, and Newmark Homes. DataSmart’s recently opened design center for Taylor Morrison homebuyers, for instance, has enabled the integrator to bundle a technology package for the builder based on Legrand’s Intuity platform that includes automation, wireless networking, surveillance, deadbolts, video doorbell intercom, surround-sound audio and more.
Due to the success generated by DataSmart’s embedded production builder design centers, the company established in 2014 a standalone 4,000-square-foot design center to serve the Houston area’s custom homebuilders. Since opening this design center, the company’s Beam built-in vacuum sales have jumped by nearly 30%. “Our competitive advantage is our relationship with our builders,” Garza says. “When we are contracted by the builder to conduct a technology consultation with clients, we have a controlled appointment time with which to present the builder to technology and automation options that fit their needs and wants.”
After DataSmart explains the benefits of a central vac system, and the fact that is can be installed easily and affordably, it’s an amenity many customers decide to add to their tech package. “Some people are interested in having entertainment; others are more interested in convenience features like a central vac,” says Garza. “We never really know which technologies consumers will decide to invest in.”
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