A lot of words have been written in this space and others about selling RMS (remote managed services) and generating RMR (recurring monthly revenue). There are a handful of tools in the industry that are focused on this Holy Grail: Ihiji, Bakpak, Krika, Domotz, and OvrC Pro to name the major players. To be honest, we don’t sell these services to generate RMR, per se. They are first and foremost a way for us to better serve our clients and to reduce truck rolls and petty service call charges. So, even if you do not have an RMR program yet, putting in IP-connected PDUs (power distribution units or power conditioners) should be something that you do for every job.
Our main go-to lines are BlueBolt and mycrestron.com. With these two services in place, we can get alerts if anything falls offline—triggered by either a ping from the BlueBolt PDU or the Crestron processor. Depending on what device is offline, BlueBolt can either automatically reboot it, or we can be sent an alert to dig deeper into the situation and proactively solve it for the customer. While peace of mind is critical, the biggest benefit that we have found is having BlueBolt reboot devices on a schedule. Once a week, every cable box, Apple TV, and Roku in the home is automatically rebooted. Modems are rebooted weekly or bi-weekly as well. This prevents issues from ever occurring, so there are fewer alerts, phone calls, and frustrated clients. The system “just works” and doesn’t need any interaction from the client to maintain functionality.
The one pain point for a client is when something freezes up in between reboots, and historically they have had to call us to reboot something in the rack. We have put the fear of God into them to not muck around in the rack because that almost always causes more harm than good. To reduce the friction and put more control into our customers’ hands, we have been programming buttons on the Crestron touchpanels that allow clients to reboot certain subsystems on their own. So when they press “reboot living room video,” the cable box, AVR, balun, and Roku for that room all reboot via the BlueBolt PDU.
For dealers not installing control systems, the news last week that SnapAV has made OvrC Home free with the purchase of any OvrC-enabled device—no hub or recurring fees required—allows them to accomplish something similar for their clients. They can give the client an app to reboot devices on their own, where the dealer has set up macros to reboot outlets on a Wattbox PDU or ports on an Araknis POE switch. This puts more control in the hands of the client and helps justify the cost of the PDU or managed switch in the proposal. Add in the OvrC Pro Hub, and now everything on the network can be monitored for connectivity and performance.
We do not use Ihiji, Domotz, or Krika, so I am not as familiar with these platforms, but they seem to offer similar use cases and benefits. As I understand it, these products are networking monitoring tools that will keep track of every device on the network and send alerts when devices fall offline or have spotty network connectivity. Integrated with other networking products (POE switches and PDUs), devices can be rebooted via a single interface.
Again, and I can’t stress this enough: even if you are not currently selling monthly service plans, you need to be selling and installing network-connected PDUs into your clients’ homes so that you are not running around to reboot cable boxes. And then, if you do choose to add service plans to your offerings, you already have the devices in place to quickly scale up to critical mass.