We humans may never get back completely to pre-pandemic “normal,” but all signs point toward a return to a higher degree of in-person living over the coming months. In fact, by later this year, we expect that many schools will be welcoming students and teachers back into the building for in-person learning. At the same time, many businesses will be bringing their workforce back into the workplace (although it’s likely remote work will not completely disappear).
What do these simultaneous returns mean for homeowners? They mean fewer people working from home, fewer kids at home, and more homes left unoccupied for longer periods of time. These emptier homes pose security problems that have a potential solution in connected security technology in general, and smart connected locks in particular.
Home automation systems and connected devices can also help bridge the practical and psychological gaps between the pandemic and post-pandemic worlds. During the pandemic, people were spending more time in their home and feeling more connected to their home than they had felt before. As people return to work, they can maintain some of that feeling of connectedness by installing smart, connected devices. Using these devices and a smart phone or tablet, homeowners can monitor their homes from their school or office, and manage access to their home through their door lock.
What all this means to the dealer is that the return to in-person living can present an ideal opportunity to tell (or remind) potential customers about the security and convenience benefits of smart locks.
Also by Nick English: Eight Reasons Why Parents Make the Best Smart Lock Customers
Many Happy (and Safe) Returns
The adoption of security systems has been on the rise in this country for a while now; a 2020 study from Parks Associates found that security system adoption in U.S. broadband households jumped up from 28 to 33 percent in the year leading up to the end of 2019. Looking at home security sales on a global level, a report from MarketsAndMarkets projects that the global home security market size, valued at USD $53.6 billion in 2020, is expected to reach USD $78.9 by 2025. One could find dozens of studies saying basically the same thing: home security is a hot market.
Security has always been a primary reason why homeowners, and particularly homeowners with children, purchase smart security products like smart locks. With everyone working and learning from home during the pandemic, and with fewer visitors coming and going, the need for smart locks may been pushed to the back of most homeowners’ minds. In fact, over the last year-plus, the front door may have been used less than in any previous year. Now, with vaccines proving effective and the world opening up again, the benefits of smart locks will be sought with greater frequency.
Consider the benefits to the working parent. This coming school year, young students will be returning from school at different times of the day, and many to newly empty homes. Without smart locks, those kids would have to carry around keys that could be misplaced or lost. Or worse, they could fall into the wrong hands. With smart locks, all the child needs to remember is a simple user code, and each member of the family can have their own code. Family members can enter the home with a few simple button pushes, and then can lock the door with just one.
With smart locks, the return to normal doesn’t have to include calls at work from kids locked out of the house, or kids waiting on the front steps for a parent, relative, or friend. This new normal also doesn’t have to include hiding keys in not-so-subtle hiding places, like under a vase, or inside a fake rock.
And even if the returning student or athlete forgets the code, smart locks are not limited to providing access control “in person” at the door. These connected locks can, in fact, be controlled by any web-enabled device. So parents can use their smartphones to let their child into the house, and even lock the door after the child is safely inside.
Knowledge Is Peace of Mind
With the notifications that smart locks can provide, parents can enjoy the peace of mind of getting an automated message when the door is unlocked. Plus, if the smart lock is paired with video camera or video doorbells, parents can upload a video clip of their child safely entering the home.
Parents can realize that these same benefits apply when younger kids become teens or even young adults, and they start to enjoy the freedoms of their age and a less restricted world. Smart locks can “time/date stamp” a teenager or college-age child. In other words, parents can know exactly when their teen son or daughter arrives home, whether they met their midnight curfew, and (with a video cam) whether they arrived alone.
Smart Locks Have Customers Coming and Going
Although homeowners were almost always home during the height of the pandemic, many people didn’t want contractors coming into their home for fear of person-to-person contact. This avoidance of in-person service included installers of home automation and home security products, like smart locks.
Ironically, smart locks themselves offer a solution to this in-home service dilemma. Now, as we return to regular work and school schedules, homeowners with smart locks may have occasion and the ability to welcome some plumbers, electricians, babysitters, or dog-walkers into the house, even when no one is home. If homeowners have a long-term relationship with a service provider or trust them enough to give them a code (that can be set to work during a certain day or time-period) or let them into the home remotely, then they are a great candidate for a smart lock.
In fact, homeowners can assign a time-sensitive user code to whomever might need one and delete it when they see fit. These user codes are the safest way possible of establishing who has access to their home or when they have it. A neighbor is coming at 11:00 AM to water the plants? Give them a time-sensitive code. A home healthcare worker will be checking on an elderly parent at 2:00 PM? They can have a scheduled code as well. This is a degree of security and peace of mind that you can’t get with traditional keys, or any other home automation device for that matter.
Back in the Swing of Life
There are many other smart lock applications that dealers can point out to customers as front doors swing open with greater frequency and life returns to some semblance of normalcy.
- Getaways. People can and will start taking vacations again, traveling by road, air, and sea and leaving their worries and homes behind. For vacationers, a smart lock can be a great stress-reliever. With a smart lock, traveling homeowners can always be sure that their doors are locked. Plus, they can provide a trusted neighbor with a user code — so instead of putting a hold on the mail or newspapers, or having the mail stack up in the mailbox, a neighbor can bring the mail into the house. And while they’re there, the neighbor can feed the fish or turn on an outside light.
- Walks in the park. Smart lock owners can go for a walk or a run without struggling to find a place to put a housekey. Exercising their freedom from physical keys, neighborhood strollers and athletes can return to their regular exercise routines.
- Vacation properties. People have been chomping at the bit to hit the road, and they need places to stay. Owners of vacation rental properties will be very busy in the coming months, and smart lock capabilities can make their lives a lot easier.
There are now flexible and affordable DIY products that let you add smart technology to your rented home while still playing within the rental rules. New products, like the Kwikset Convert Z-Wave Smart Lock Conversion Kit, sit over the top of existing deadbolts and quickly transform these mechanical locks into smart locks, without screwing into walls or performing any wiring. As products like Kwikset Convert replace the interior half of an existing lock without changing the exterior, they maintain the style of the front door or match an existing handleset. These conversion kits let rental property owners provide all the benefits of smart locks. Plus, they take the inconvenient transfer of physical keys from owner to renter out of the equation.
- Guest rooms. The welcome sign may well be up again for people who have room for invited guests. Now smart lock owners can invite their vaccinated Uncle Abner into their guestroom without requiring him to have a mask or a set of housekeys. Instead, Abner can have a shiny new user code to go with his fresh set of sheets.
Bound for Growing Your Business
Over the past year-plus of being housebound, many homeowners have undoubtedly been thinking about ways to improve their homes. Some have already added technological security or convenience enhancements to their homes, but many have not. And now, with the simultaneous return to both the office and the classroom, many homeowners will feel that the time is right to take action and make a purchase. This means that the time is right for security dealers to let potential customers know about the benefits of smart locks. As homes and doorways open for increased activity and living, security dealers can take advantage of the world’s reopening — and the openings for unlocking increased business with smart locks.
As North American sales manager for Kwikset Residential Access Solutions, Nick English is responsible for management of all sales and distribution through pro security channels, including sales and performance management of territory sales managers and key account managers. English creates, develops, and manages division strategy for the security/home automation channels, and the associated national accounts, direct accounts, and distribution partners and installing dealers within each channel.