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Study Confirms: Embrace Service or Risk Irrelevance

With all of the news flying around before, during, and after CEDIA, you might easily have missed a white paper recently released by HomeAdvisor:. The Smart Home Pro Emergence Study. It’s a worthwhile read, but section 2 in particular grabbed my attention: a “three-pronged approach” that home tech pros can employ to find long-term success.

With all of the news flying around before, during, and after CEDIA, you might easily have missed a white paper recently released by HomeAdvisor in conjunction with CEDIA. The Smart Home Pro Emergence Study examines the role of Home Service Professionals in the growing smart home market. It’s a worthwhile read, but section 2 in particular grabbed my attention as it outlines a “three-pronged approach” that home technology professionals can employ to find long-term success in this evolving market.

I couldn’t help but see the parallels with a message that a growing group of pros in the industry, myself included, have been espousing for years (I first wrote about this topic in Aug ‘15). The ongoing theme, and one that HomeAdvisor’s study concludes, is that traditional CEDIA integrators would be wise to put service first and to begin seeing themselves as technology managers who can own the smart home experience better than anyone.

Play the Long Game
HomeAdvisor’s key point is that the smart home, once attainable only for luxury buyers, is now entering the mainstream. Although we’ve only just begun to see the mass market adoption curve ramp upward, the writing’s on the wall. The connected home is commoditizing. And as technological barriers fall, client service is becoming the last true differentiator for companies who want to stand out from the growing throngs of competition.

The name of the game is Technology Management. With the exponential increase in options for the smart home buyer (in both product and provider), today’s buyer needs much more than an installer; they need an advocate — a Technology Manager. The quality of the smart home ownership experience will rest on the shoulders on the individual or team responsible for curating and managing their client’s tech on an ongoing basis. Today’s CEDIA integrator is by far better positioned than anyone to provide this much-needed service.

Build a Scalable Business
Advances in connected home technology are driving down the cost of entry. What can be done today with a couple thousand dollars in hardware would have cost the consumer five to 10 times that amount a short time ago. HomeAdvisor’s point about finding long-term success here is that home technology pros must find a way to generate sustainable business with smaller jobs and higher volume.

Once again, this ties back to the idea of today’s integrator becoming tomorrow’s technology manager. Implementing effective strategies to monetize on the premium services that you can deliver is the single best way to improve the sustainability of your business. Finding creative ways to deliver this service efficiently is where things get difficult.

Delivering premium, around-the-clock support in-house without burning out your entire team is almost impossible given the size of most integration companies. Leveraging enterprise-class service software and RSM platforms can be a major boon to efficiency, but selecting, implementing, and training your team on these tools is difficult and time consuming. And determining the best processes to run your service department can be mind-boggling. So while all of this can be daunting, if you believe the future belongs to technology managers, then now is the time to begin investing in the platform needed to create a service-first model.

Providing exceptional service in an efficient and scalable manner can feel insurmountable (it’s a major problem we solve for service-focused integrators at my company, OneVision). But it’s a vital component to any company looking for long-term success.

Outsmart the Skilled Labor Shortage
HomeAdvisor highlights a pain point that anyone reading this article is acutely aware of: the shortage of qualified labor in our space. Although the paper doesn’t point out much in the way of solutions here, it is a problem we hear about consistently from our growing partner network at OneVision and a core reason we are offering recruitment assistance as part of the OneVision Platform.

One of the best ways to get around this problem for now is to outsource. Although finding the right outsourcing partner can be difficult, the efforts are well worth it. Whether it’s help with design/engineering, bookkeeping, or service, leveraging the scale, core competencies, and efficiencies that outsourced partners bring to the table can supercharge your efforts literally overnight.

Make the Investment
The smart home is evolving like never before and creating a new type of client that demands service over product. The call for our industry to transform has never been louder! Embracing a service-first culture is the key to navigating this landscape and by putting service at the core of your value proposition you set yourself up for long term success and sustainability. But doing so requires an investment of time and energy and a commitment to new ways of thinking. What are you doing today or how are you planning to make this transition with your company? Let me know in the comments below or reach out directly if you want to have a conversation about it.