Back during the Great Recession of 2007–2009, households tightened their belts, but there was one particular service they didn’t cut from their budgets: home security monitoring. It was a technology service they couldn’t imagine doing without, and it helped people feel safe during uncertain times. If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that other residential systems are now similarly considered “mission critical.”
In the early days of the pandemic, research firm Comscore found that home audio streaming surged 32 percent. Hub Research estimated 28 percent of consumers had added at least one video streaming service during the crisis (and about one-fifth said they’d continue watching after the pandemic passed). And Parks Associates said they expected average broadband-enabled homes to include 20 connected devices by 2025 — up from 12 now — thereby “creating opportunities for service providers and manufacturers to deploy new value-added services to support the home network and all its devices.”
Increasingly, like home security, HVAC systems, and even lawn service, residential electronic systems for entertainment, networking, lighting, comfort, and control are required by homeowners. And what do security, HVAC maintenance, and lawn care have in common, not to mention pest control, housecleaning, and more? They’re all offered as a recurring service. The monitoring and maintenance of residential electronic systems should be no different.
Growing Complexity Requires Ongoing Management
Integrators know well what they’re dealing with these days. The systems they install are getting more complex and increasingly IP network based. Not to mention, there are all the DIY smart home devices and other electronics their customers are plugging into the home network.
Integrators also know — and homeowners quickly come to realize — that these residential systems need ongoing maintenance. Sure, integrators can (and do) roll trucks to troubleshoot and fix a litany of systems, but, for many companies, any truck that’s out servicing warrantied and other systems represents a missed opportunity for new business and a significant cost to the integrator.
Remote monitoring is the answer. Many residential integrators have adopted remote monitoring tools to increase efficiency in their service operations, but run very transactional businesses: they sell and install systems, then move onto the next home. When something needs fixing, they send a truck. However, many integrators stand to benefit from taking their business to the next level by creating a constant revenue stream via remote monitoring contracts.
To succeed and thrive in a market that demands connected home systems and expects them to work properly (or to be serviced immediately, like home electricity or plumbing), integrators need to be installing only systems that are addressable over an IP network and they should be selling monthly contracts to monitor and manage those systems. Here’s why:
- Remote monitoring contracts help integrators weather unforeseen business disruptions. The pandemic may have temporarily dented the sale of smart home electronics, in part because of supply chain issues and in part because some homeowners paused their bingeing on new technology, but monthly remote monitoring contracts — like other residential service contracts — can ensure recurring revenue until sales pick back up.
- Remote monitoring contracts add to the value of your business. For integration companies exploring an exit strategy or putting themselves up for sale, a healthy portfolio of monthly service contracts represents measurable business value.
- Remote monitoring can fit an integrator’s business model. Today, there are a couple ways to offer remote monitoring to homeowners, so integrators have options. The first way is for the integrator to do it themselves — build out their own operations center and install home devices and software, such as SnapAV’s OvrC platform, that give them visibility into residential systems. The second way is to let a third party do the monitoring and managing for them. A provider like Parasol, which uses OvrC and operates a pair of operations centers, sells its remote monitoring service to integrators, which in turn offer them to homeowners, either standalone or as part of a larger maintenance contract.
- Integrators can offer remote monitoring 24/7 — without working 24/7. Once a remote monitoring service is in place, especially when offered by a third party, homeowners can expect assistance around the clock, even if a media server, for example, goes down after regular business hours. And the integrator’s technicians don’t always have to be on-call, nor are they fielding support calls when they should be finishing a new home installation and signing up that next remote monitoring customer.
- In addition to being good for integrators, remote monitoring is good for their customers. Remote monitoring offers a way to demonstrate value to homeowners. The systems generate logs and other information that integrators can use to show customers how they’ve helped — the upgrades they’ve made, the problems they’ve resolved that homeowners never noticed, the speed with which they resolved problems, and the general uptime of all connected systems.
Homeowners benefit from having the latest software and functionality installed remotely. And because the most advanced remote monitoring platforms work with systems from a wide variety of manufacturers — and can even “see” IP devices the integrator didn’t install — homeowners enjoy a much broader level of support. Not only can the remote technician determine if an IP-connected AV receiver’s settings are to blame for no volume, but the technician can re-boot a cable box plugged into an IP-enabled device.
A Win-Win Proposition
Some of today’s remote monitoring platforms, which integrators can use to deliver service, have shown resolution rates in excess of 80 percent. And because remote monitoring can be a 24/7 proposition, homeowners are more willing to pay than if an integrator’s service contract requires a truck roll during business hours.
This is the new world we live in: Homeowners want their security systems to work; they also want their media streaming network to function flawlessly when the big game starts or the new season of their favorite show goes live. By building their business around IP-enabled systems and remote monitoring technology, residential systems integrators join the ranks of trusted home contractors that deliver the home experience customers expect.
Kenny Kim is the VP of connected products at SnapAV, a manufacturer and exclusive source of AV, surveillance, control, networking and remote management products for professional integrators.