Selling Motorized Shades: Throwing Light on the Security Benefits

For security dealers who don’t want to leave money on the table, combining motorized shades into their overall smart home sales effort is a smart move.

When the subject of home security comes up, it’s likely that the first thing that pops into a dealer’s head is, not surprisingly, a security system.

Close behind would probably be locks, particularly the new breed of smart, electronic locks. Perhaps door and motion sensors are next up, possibly followed by lighting.

Bringing up the rear, if they enter the picture at all, are smart shades. So, the question that inevitably comes to mind is: how did smart shades become the odd person out of the smart security ecosystem? Frankly, given the range of benefits they bring to a home’s overall security blueprint, it’s a bit of a mystery.

Smart shades may not get their due as an effective crime deterrent and security device but make no mistake: consumers are buying them. In fact, a study from the analyst firm Reportlinker, entitled Global Smart Shade Devices Market 2020-2024, posits that the global smart shade devices market is poised to grow by just over $300 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at an impressive CAGR of 66% during the forecast period.

While there are multiple reasons offered for this growth, convenience, the expanding variety of styles, and the overall growth of IoT technology are cited as the primary drivers.

A Shade More Secure

Lost in this mix are the myriad security advantages that smart shades can impart. The most obvious is that homeowners can schedule the shades to be down when they’re not home, through integration with numerous smart hubs or home-control systems.

They can also be activated by smart thermostats, smoke alarms and other devices that receive triggers when the house is empty. The shades can receive those triggers and automatically lower the shades so no one can see inside.

And integration to any popular home automation system like Control4, Crestron, URC or others means the homeowner will be able to check their shades’ status on a smartphone to ensure that the shades are in the desired position, whether it’s up or down.

At nighttime, consumers can rest easy knowing that when they go to bed the alarm is set, the doors are locked, the lighting is the way they want it, and the shades are all drawn — and it can all be done from the comfort of their bedroom.

Smart shades can also be programmed to lower automatically when it gets dark outside, enhancing privacy and security. They can even be put into vacation mode, which will create random patterns of opening and closing, making it difficult for potential housebreakers to detect a routine.

It should be noted that smart lighting can also be an effective deterrent against break-ins, making would-be burglars think there is someone inside the home. However, smart lighting may not work properly during the day because of the natural sunlight.

Because most home burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 p.m., this can reduce the value of smart lighting in warding off potential burglaries. Window treatments with their various fabric choices (sheer, light filtering, room darkening, and blackout) can be an effective backup, creating a powerful one-two punch.

In fact, integrating both smart lighting and smart shades with a security system will further enhance the effectiveness of the homeowner’s security plan. If someone tries to enter the home forcefully, the window shade sensor will detect the activity, smart programming will turn on the lights, and a security camera will record all the activities while sending an alert to smart gadgets such as a smartphone or tablet.

Also, what about that window in the home that is way above the floor and difficult to reach, but potentially offers a view of the interior of a home? The CNET Smart Home, where smart devices are tested, has two windows about 13 feet from the floor. As they noted, for windows like these, manual shades simply aren’t practical.

A controllable, motorized shade ensures that a virtually unreachable window does not become a peephole into the homeowner’s domain. And criminals are far less likely to attempt a break-in through a window when they can’t see what’s on the other side of the shade.

Beyond Security

Smart shades also offer benefits beyond security that relate directly to lifestyle and comfort. For consumers with a lot of shades, blinds or window coverings in their homes, opening them all in the morning and closing them at night can become a major chore. Automated shades put all this activity onto a schedule, providing the ultimate in convenience.

Of course, shades aren’t opened and closed solely at the beginning and end of each day. Homeowners can create some very simple routines to lower the shades when the sun is at its strongest, blocking out the UV light that can cause carpets, furniture and floors to fade.

And then there’s the energy savings: having the shades closed on the west side of the house when the sun is beating in can play a dramatic role in reducing A/C costs. Conversely, allowing the heat to come in and warm the house naturally during the colder weather can keep heating costs at bay.

Given the many benefits of smart, motorized shades — not only in terms of security but lifestyle and comfort — why is it that more dealers don’t sell them? Further, even among the dealers who carry them, are they doing enough to promote their value to the consumer — especially the consumer who has already set up at least a basic smart home ecosystem?

Dealer Education Is Key

Ultimately, the best method for jumpstarting this effort is dealer education. We find that, day in and day out, security dealers just don’t broach the subject with their customers as often as they should. They may be uncomfortable with the design aspect, perhaps feeling they don’t have the expertise to assist in the selection of fabrics, colors and styles.

However, security dealers should realize that, although most shade companies offer a wide array of style choices, window coverings are something people tend not to be adventurous with. Neutral colors like whites, grays, and blacks dominate the market.

More often than not, the role of shades is to blend into the background and not be a focal point; consumers want them to look good and accent a room but not go out of fashion when they redecorate that same room in five years.

Another obstacle may be that dealers are not fully aware of the various power options available, which includes RF, battery-powered, AC/DC power, solar and more. They need to realize that the majority of reputable shade manufacturers are available to explain the differences between the various power selections and help dealers gain a better feel for which option is best for a specific smart home scenario.

Some dealers may be overwhelmed by the pure volume of smart devices in the marketplace. Security systems, door and window sensors, smart locks, lighting, thermostats — the list of smart devices is long and getting longer. With motorized shades being the relative newcomer to the scene, it’s understandable that they might get pushed into the background.

Pique Interest – Then Sell

The process of selling motorized shades starts with piquing the customer’s interest:  focusing on the specific benefits that meet a customer’s unique needs. Once they’re intrigued, move on to matching the customer with their ideal shade product:

  • Selling the benefits: All the advantages outlined earlier — from security to convenience to energy savings — should prove effective in generating a customer’s interest. Ask how much time they spend opening and closing shades each day. Ask if they have a lot of windows facing the east or west side where they get blinded by the sun when they’re eating breakfast or overheated by solar rays in the afternoon and evening. Ask if they would like the ability to prevent people from seeing into their home when they’re not there — or to ensure privacy in the morning until they’re completely dressed and ready to go to work.
  •  Type of control: Once you’ve got the customer hooked, the next question is, what type of control does the customer want? Would they like a handheld remote that allows them to raise and lower shades whenever they want, or a “gateway” that lets the dashboard set the schedule and establish customized scenes? Or do they want to go with full integration into a home-control system, so the shades are triggered by thermostats, lights, or other devices? Here, the number one question is whether the customer can run wires, especially if it’s new construction or a remodel. That always sets the stage for what type of motors will be used. (If they can run wires, it’s always best, because they never have to worry about charging batteries.)
  • Charging: If they can’t run wires, the next question is, how do they want to charge the shades? They can use a device similar to a cell phone charger that allows them to go around the house and easily charge all the shades. Another option, if wires can’t be run, is the use of small solar panels that will keep batteries charged.
  • Determining the types of shades: When selecting or recommending fabrics, styles, colors and patterns, the shade manufacturer can provide valuable assistance with sample books or over-the-phone advice. What’s more, the customer may be working with an interior designer who can provide all the information necessary, taking the design issues out of the dealer’s hands.

For security dealers who don’t want to leave money on the table, combining motorized shades into their overall smart home sales effort is a smart move. Selling motorized shades isn’t difficult, once dealers themselves have seen the light and fully understand the clear benefits of convenience, cost savings and security that these shades bring to any home or smart security system.

Jason Turner is the founder and CEO of PowerShades, a designer and manufacturer of manual and motorized shades.

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