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Success at Your Fingertips

Proactive custom integrators should seize the opportunity to simplify technology for homeowners.

In my 15-plus years of custom installation experience, Ive learned that an integrated remote control is seldom the first priority for a client who is considering a new system purchase.

The truth of the matter is that a remote control is often an afterthought. In fact, after putting down some serious money on a home entertainment system, a client might rationalize, Why should I commit another $500 to $5,000 just for a remote? For custom installation and retail sales professionals, its often an uphill battle to educate clients on the importance of this single component that will ensure their satisfaction with their new entertainment system.

An uphill battle, however, is not an un-winnable one. Success lies in our ability to adapt the right attitude in facing the challenge. Of equal importance are the goals of obtaining the most up-to-date product information, gaining a thorough understanding of your clients audio and video system, and know how all the dos and donts when conducting a sale or handling a clients objections.

Custom installation specialists are more than just skilled technicians. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are also sales people. And to have a positive sales experience, we need to establish good rapport with our clients. My preferred ice-breaker is a bit of historical trivia: Even though the couch potato blight may be a modern day phenomenon, the concept of asserting control from a distance via radio waves had its origin back in World War One, when the German navy attempted to develop radio-controlled motorboats. Now imagine those naval engineers reaction to seeing the movie Titanic on DVD, while holding a remote controller in their hands.

The fact is that virtually all of todays home entertainment components come equipped with remote control. Also true is that many homeowners are intimidated by the number of buttons that they find on their remote. This is a woe further multiplied with the arrival of new electronics components. Instead of accepting this as an impediment, a proactive custom installation specialist should seize this as an opportunity. Providing a remote control that is properly programmed to reflect the lifestyles and preferences of its owner is a powerful sales tool and a great contribution to the overall satisfaction that the owner has with his or her home entertainment system.

Remote controls available these days generally combine both infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) transmissions. These devices can come in varying sizes with hard button configurations or touch screen panels with icons and selection menus that can be custom tailored to fit each clients lifestyles and components. There are also hybrid controls, featuring both LCD screens and familiar tactile buttons, offering intuitive, one-hand operation.

Surprisingly, the one crucial question that is seldom addressed is how much one should budget for a remote control. I go by the 10 percent rule; 10 percent of the total cost of the home theater system should go toward the remote control component. It makes little sense for a customer to spend top dollars on the best home entertainment components and then skimp on the remote control. This almost always results in failure and dissatisfaction with the entire system.

Bear in mind that a professionally programmed remote control will let every member of the household and visitors enjoy the entertainment system rather than spending many frustrating hours juggling various remote controls. The time and the frustration that such an integrated system could save over time would be immeasurable to the homeowner. Therefore, the lowest price is not and should not be the only criterion of product selection. A quality remote control system is one that is flexible, automates the entertainment system, and above all, is intuitive. Customers should make their purchasing decision with all of that in mind.

Cnsumers are often intimidated by systems that control multiple components. They are concerned with how many button pushes it takes to get the system up and running. On such occasions, customers need to be reassured of the automation and intuitiveness of an intelligent, professionally programmed control interface.Ask your client how many people are going to be operating the system in the house. Find out what their needs and their preferences are for the programming. The answers to these questions will help you recommend the right system to your clients.

I like to emphasize simplicity and intuitive use to my customers. Does the control system that you are advocating enable easy access to entertainment with the minimum amount of button pushing? To put it in simple terms: can the babysitter operate it easily? Does the system offer the level of automation that the client wants in a way that is tailored to his or her lifestyle? Are the buttons and/or icons located and customized in a logical, easy-to-use, ergonomic fashion for the most common system commands?
Finally, the cost of programming the remote control should be built into the budget of any home theater system. When installed properly, a home entertainment system can enhance the living experience and enjoyment of the homeowners, and preserve the value of their largest investmenttheir home.

For dealers, its important to remember that in todays market, a successful sale of the right entertainment system remote control often leads to increased client satisfaction. A customer that understands how to operate his or her new entertainment system will be a satisfied, loyal and a repeat customer. Furthermore, he will relate his happy experience to his friends and neighbors, which will result in referral business for you, the dealer.

Pete Baker is Worldwide Director of Sales and Marketing for Remote Technologies Incorporated (RTI)