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Finding the Right Shade Partner

It is a good time to jump into this growing product category — find out which vendor is right for your business.

Just a few years ago, if someone had told you that shades were going to be big part of the custom installation industry, you’d have laughed it off. But adding motorized shades to a shop’s arsenal has become a very viable business decision for many integrators, and the category is still heating up. For those looking to enter the market, we’ve asked the major suppliers of motorized shades to custom installers to answer a few questions to help you decide which company is the right match for your business.

Crestron Battery Powered Shades Install

Crestron

How much training is involved in getting started?
Existing Crestron dealers need to participate in the one-day CTI-Crestron Shading Technician course (online or in-person). After that, they will be authorized to have access to the shade quoting and configuration tool (CDT), which will allow them to quote and order shades.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
There are no official startup costs for doing shades and no minimum volume levels. It is, however, highly recommended (but not currently required) to purchase the fabric book collection ($600) and fabric decks ($250) for a total of $850.

What control systems do your shades work with?
Crestron shades are native to Crestron control systems. A Crestron processor is required to operate Crestron shades. Any other control system can communicate with and operate Crestron shades by communicating with the Crestron processor via RS232 or Contact Closure.

What power options do you offer?
Crestron Cresnet Shades receive power and communication via a four conductor Cresnet cable from a 24 VDC power supply, while Crestron infiNET shades are powered by 24 VDC (with RF communication) — usually, this is via plug-in power supply (120 VAC/24 VDC). Crestron offers battery shades up to 8 feet wide x 8 feet tall (requiring eight D Cell batteries).

Do you provide on-site support?
Usually, an extra level of support is provided upon request for new dealers on their first project or complicated projects. Tech Sales can provide Facetime job site consultations. In very special circumstances (such as large, complicated projects), the Solutions Engineer and Shading Specialist may travel to meet the customer on-site.

What dealer programs do you offer?
Any residential dealer who has CDT access can order shades. We also have an optional free design service for shading projects through TechSales.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
Those resources are as follows:

Draper Shades Kit Box

Draper

How much training is involved in getting started?
As a major shade manufacturer, we offer a mix of training opportunities designed to meet you where you are. Our Regional Sales Managers and Rep Firms provide direct assistance. Our sales managers also provide field training, and Draper offers periodic training experiences at our manufacturing facility in Spiceland, Ind. We also provide:

  • Training videos on product details and installation processes
  • Fabric and interior and exterior hardware sample kits
  • Online Shade Selection Tools, a Fabric View-Through Simulator, and technical documentation
  • CEDIA-accredited courses on Shade Fabric Selection and Outdoor Living opportunities
  • Web-based product and installation training

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
We don’t have any required startup costs or minimum purchase amounts. We do recommend that dealers purchase sample kits because we believe they will help close more shade projects. Our sample kits include a fabric kit and interior and outdoor hardware kits. We do charge for the kits — $250 for the fabric kit and $125 each for the hardware kits — but each kit comes with coupons so you can recoup your entire investment by applying them to orders.

What control systems do your shades work with?
The [email protected] collection is powered by Somfy motors, so our shades work with just about any control system out there, including Control4, Crestron, and ELAN. Via the Somfy TaHoma, they also work with Google Assistant, Alexa, Philips Hue, IFTTT, Smart Things, Alarm.com, and more.

What power options do you offer?
There’s no “one size fits all” solution for powering and controlling shading systems. We offer AC, DC, and rechargeable battery motors with solar recharging capability.

Do you provide on-site support?
In addition to our field sales teams, we have automation specialists located around the United States, plus dedicated in-house technical specialists who offer phone support.

What dealer programs do you offer?
Freight-included pricing for all [email protected] products. Volume-based project pricing. We also have some of the strongest warranties in the industry: 25 years for most interior hardware and fabrics, 10 years for outdoor hardware, 5 years for electronic accessories and motors and outdoor fabrics.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
As I mentioned earlier, Draper has three sales kits that provide dealers with all the tools necessary to present our solutions, answer client questions, and close the sale. Our fabric kit contains hundreds of fabric swatches in booklets, and a handy “in-the-window” openness tool to demonstrate the impact of openness on view-through. We also have indoor and outdoor hardware kits. We do charge for all these kits, but each kit includes coupons that allow the dealer to get that money back on future orders.

There are other important considerations you should consider when choosing a shading partner: quality, delivery, experience, and commitment.

Draper has a dedicated, full-time quality department to make sure we are sending you the best possible product. Our cost of quality is typically hovering near the 0.5 percent mark. Our lead times continue to be some of the best in the industry. We’ve been manufacturing custom shades for 120 years, so we really do know shading. We are committed to be here for the long term, as evidenced by the fact that we’ve never, ever had an employee layoff.

Hunter Douglas Motorized Shades

Hunter Douglas

How much training is involved in getting started?
The Hunter Douglas Custom Integrator Program (CIP) is open to authorized integrators of home control systems such as ELAN, Control4, Crestron, Crestron Home, Savant, RTI, or URC, and begins with CIP sales and installer training through The Link mobile app, which provides instruction and education on things like shade sizing and configurations, impact of color and fabric choices on natural light control, and best practices for integrating the advanced Hunter Douglas PowerView automated shades into any automation project. There is ongoing training available online through Hunter Douglas as new products are released. Integrators in the program also enjoy a suite of exclusive benefits, including sales and quoting tools, discounted shades for their own home, and special savings on custom displays. Hunter Douglas dealers also receive ongoing support from local reps for consultations, measuring, and installations.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
Given the diverse range of integrators and businesses that join the CIP, the startup investment varies depending on business objectives, skills levels, and project types. Members of the Hunter Douglas CIP program receive preferred pricing, and dealers have noted that the reasonable startup costs have been a big determining factor for taking on the Hunter Douglas customized shading line.

What control systems do your shades work with?
Hunter Douglas has developed drivers that enable integrators to incorporate PowerView shades into homeowners’ new or existing Control4, Crestron Home, Crestron, ELAN, RTI, and URC systems, with more integrations to come.

What power options do you offer?
Hunter Douglas offers a variety of power options including the popular Rechargeable Battery Wand with a single or dual charging station, the alkaline, C-Size and Satellite battery wands, the PowerView+ Automation 16-shade DC Power Supply, and PowerView AC for large installations.

Do you provide on-site support?
Hunter Douglas has a fantastic network of regional support for dealers as well as a team at HD headquarters to support the dealer channel. Dealers also have the option of tapping into the network of Hunter Douglas Installation Service (HDIS). Dealers can use these independent partners for pieces of the project or as an end-to-end solution that guarantees accurate measuring and proper shade installation. Using HDIS guarantees that the order is placed correctly and includes a one-year guarantee on the installation itself, as well as a five-year warranty on PowerView and a lifetime warranty on the shades.

What dealer programs do you offer?
When integrators join the Hunter Douglas Custom Integrator program, they’re set up for success with the specialized support they need to properly specify automated window treatment solutions and confidently add Hunter Douglas to their product line up.

Members of the program gain access to an expansive portfolio of design options and over 20 shade styles compatible with PowerView and PowerView+, including the popular Designer Roller Shades, Silhouette Window Shadings, flagship Duette® Honeycomb Shades, and more.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
In addition to training and access to the full Hunter Douglas product line, integrators enrolled in the program also receive access to sample books and presentation tools to demonstrate the quality and capabilities of the smart shades to clients. Several members of the Custom Integrator Program have taken advantage of the custom display discounts to build out the experience in their showrooms.

Additionally, by providing dealers with access to its “The Link”custom app, Hunter Douglas has taken any guesswork out of quoting, measuring, and ordering Hunter Douglas products, a process that has historically been intimidating to dealers, with so many shade styles and fabric options to consider. The iPad mobile selling app helps dealers discuss options with their clients including shades styles and fabrics, generate quotes easily, and track their sales. The Price Explorer tool provides quick comparisons of different options for the same window and a bevy of supporting collateral including videos and brochures to further demonstrate the variety of shade styles.

The Link also streamlines the measurement process by allowing dealers to import window dimensions from DISTO laser measuring tools into the app. With rough measurements entered, dealers can easily generate a quote, review the quote with their customer, email a copy, and even get customer sign-off directly in the app.

Legrand BCS Motorized Screen

Legrand Shading Systems

How much training is involved in getting started?
There isn’t much training required to get started. Because of the pandemic, most manufacturers have increased the amount of online training available to customers. That said, you’ll always be learning. The installation of shades is very easy. Mount two brackets and hang the shade — you’re done. The design of shading systems: evaluating where to mount the shade, how to split shades up when they’re too large, etc. — that’s where you’ll learn something new on every project.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
Startup costs are typically limited to purchasing a fabric book and perhaps a shade demo. Most manufacturers offer the training at no cost.

What control systems do your shades work with?
Legrand’s shading products are native to our Vantage lighting control system. They also work well with Control4, Crestron, Savant, URC, or any other control system that can communicate via IP or RS485.

What power options do you offer?
We offer three options: AC, DC, and Battery Powered.

Do you provide on-site support?
We do. We have a team of technical support staff who can provide videoconferencing support. This enables them to see what dealers are seeing. If that doesn’t work, we have a team of Field Sales Engineers who cover the entire U.S. and are able to get to job sites to lend a hand when things cannot be solved over the phone.

What dealer programs do you offer?
We offer a variety of different programs to our dealers — all aimed at helping them grow their sales. First, we have a showroom program that provides discounted product to allow a dealer to outfit their showroom with our products. There is no better way to show a client how great automated shading is than to be able to demonstrate it in a real setting. We also believe that if dealers love our products, they’ll be easier to sell. For that reason, we also offer a personal use program that, again, provides heavily discounted products to be installed in their personal residence.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
Our fabric book is the go-to resource for everything fabric. In addition, we have an online fabric portal that allows dealers (as well as end users and designers) to look at swatches online, sort by color, type of fabric, etc., and once they find something they like, add it to their cart and receive a larger 8×10 swatch within a few days.

Related: The 411 on Selling Shades

Lutron Shades Lifestyle

Lutron

How much training is involved in getting started?
We have a number of different trainings depending on what type of shade products dealers are looking to add to their portfolio. Many dealers begin with our Shade Essentials course, which focuses on our battery-powered Triathlon rollers, honeycombs, and wood blinds. This is a two-day live virtual training with Lutron shade experts, and includes some at-home shade installations to ensure new dealers get hands-on experience.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
Dealers who are new to Lutron will need to attend training and purchase the required sales tools, which include a pop-up shade demo and a curated selection of our fabric binders. We encourage dealers to keep their fabric binders up to date utilizing our free fabric sample ordering tool. There are no annual fees to staying in the shades business with Lutron.

What control systems do your shades work with?
Our Sivoia QS shades, both battery-powered and wired, tie in seamlessly with all residential Lutron systems — Caseta PRO, RadioRA 2, RadioRA 3, and Homeworks QSX.

What power options do you offer?
All of our shade styles are available in wired power options. We also offer rollers, honeycombs, and wood blinds in battery-powered options.

Do you provide on-site support?
Lutron offers unparalleled 24/7 tech support via phone, where our specialists will walk you through any challenges you may be facing on-site. We also provide local on-the-job support through our regional representatives.

What dealer programs do you offer?
We offer a number of programs for dealers that are tailored to fit each dealer’s area of expertise, purchasing preferences, and company size.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
All Lutron shade dealers will have an operable shade demo that will impress even the most discerning client. Our beautifully designed fabric binders contain large swatches of material and are designed to allow dealers to lift each fabric out to mimic a real shade. On lutronfabrics.com, dealers can filter the entire Lutron fabric offering by a variety of characteristics, including shade style, color, openness factor, price, and even more specific qualities like GREENGUARD Certified or PVC-free.

PowerShades Fabric Book

PowerShades

How much training is involved in getting started?
Getting started requires just a one-hour session of product training, scheduled training with PowerShades rep or territory manager. This consists of getting familiar with our PowerShades Portal (where the dealer can build quotes and place orders) and the PowerShades dashboard (where their customers’ shades can be programmed with extensive automation capabilities). They will also go over the basics of our shades, how they are installed, and how they work. The dealer will have access to many documents, marketing materials, literature, and product info to reference when needed.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
The only requirement is the dealer must purchase a fabric book (which we have just redesigned). We like all our dealers to have a tangible, comprehensive book showing all our fabric offerings, power options, and hardware choices on-hand to be able to sell our products with ease and confidence. By purchasing a fabric book at the price of $599 USD, the dealer is eligible for a $30 rebate on each of their next 20 shade orders. This provides the opportunity for the dealer to recoup their financial investment. By purchasing the book, plus engaging in a one-hour training session, the dealer becomes an officially authorized PowerShades dealer.

What control systems do your shades work with?
Our motorized shades have full functionality with the vast majority of popular control systems, including ELAN, URC, Crestron, Control4, PoE Texas, BTI, Savant, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.

What power options do you offer?
PowerShades offer several power options to give the customer a great deal of flexibility. PowerShades offers AC, DC, Battery-Powered, and the industry’s only true PoE (Power over Ethernet) shades called, appropriately enough, TruePoE.

Do you provide on-site support?
PowerShades’ customer support team is available by phone 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Central Time) during the work week to help with measuring, quoting, and advice on how to efficiently outfit the customer’s home with our products. Our Sales Reps are also dedicated to supporting dealers in their territory during the day and evenings. Our dealers are well trained to take on most projects, but can seek assistance from us if needed.

What dealer programs do you offer?
We offer a wide range of dealer programs to benefit new dealers when it comes to demo pricing, technical advice, selling strategies, and more. The list is long so we can’t highlight them all here, but suffice to say that there is probably not an area related to selling, pricing, tech advice, or product positioning for which we don’t have a dealer program.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
Dealers are able to purchase a fabric book and samples from PowerShades. Our fabric books highlight the full selection of fabrics that we offer. Dealers are required to purchase a fabric book to become familiar with our full product line and to successfully sell our products with confidence. Each fabric book holds a product catalog that has in-depth information. Later this year we will be releasing a hardware sample kit for dealers to purchase. The hardware sample kit will have samples of our remotes, hardware, colors, assemblies, and more to show to potential customers.

Screen Innovations Lifestyle

Screen Innovations

How much training is involved in getting started?
The more training a dealer goes through, the more successful he will be in shades. To help dealers master the intricacies of shade, Screen Innovation (SI) offers a variety of training courses. Dealers can take online courses at their own pace and virtual training with SI’s director of training, Sasha Osadchy, to learn how to properly plan, measure, and design shade projects. SI also offers in-person training on proper shade installation and deployment techniques, including integration with third-party control systems.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
We have two shade demo kits — one for Nano (indoor) and Zen (outdoor); these kits are $800 each and include samples to help dealers create the appropriate aesthetic and select a size. These kits feature our “Top Picks” fabrics and in-house powder coat paint color options. Along with the kits, dealers have access to our online quoting tool, Flow. Finally, for an additional $65 to $150, dealers can purchase a manufacturer fabric book for more options.

What control systems do your shades work with?
SI’s motorized shades integrate easily with the most popular control systems in the industry, including those from Control4, Savant, Crestron, ELAN, Lutron, and others. A full list and compatible software drivers can be found at https://drivers.screeninnovations.com.

What power options do you offer?
SI carries all power options except PoE; however, our power distribution device, Janus, enables shades to receive power via Category cabling. A line of outdoor shades powered by solar energy is slated to debut at the CEDIA Expo 2022.

Do you provide on-site support?
Yes, remotely via our Support Team and in-person via our Field Technical Trainer (a fee may apply for in-person support).

What dealer programs do you offer?
We have several pricing tiers based on volume, as well as programs through specific buying groups. We also offer demo discounts and dealer accommodations.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
Our Design Services Team is an amazing resource for pre-sales support; they assist with design, functionality, aesthetics, and planning to ensure dealers and their customers have a great experience. Members of the team often speak with sales reps, interior designers, project managers, and integrator management/owners to help streamline projects. We have a plethora of educational tools that can be found in our portal, Flow, plus a Fabric Wizard to help dealers choose the right fabric to meet a project’s specific functional and aesthetic requirements.

Somfy Wi_fi Li-ion olar Pack

Somfy

How much training is involved in getting started?
Starting out as a Somfy partner is simple — just get in touch with our team and we’ll get you started. Training to sell and install Somfy motors is easy to do with our Somfy U program, which allows you to train online — any time.

What are the startup costs to the dealer? Are there any ongoing requirements that a dealer needs to meet?
There are no costs to start as a dealer with Somfy — we are always happy to expand our network of Somfy installers!

What control systems do your shades work with?
Somfy prides itself on being open and playing well with others. From household standards like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, to working with Philips Hue, Brilliant Smart Home, even Control4 — Somfy is ready to integrate with whatever system a homeowner or integrator wants to work with.

The full list includes Control4, Crestron, Savant, Amazon Alexa, IFTTT, Google Assistant, Philips Hue, Brilliant, ELAN, SmartThings, Alarm.com, Extron, and URC.

What power options do you offer?
Depending on the application and technology chosen, Somfy offers wired, WireFree, PoE, and solar options for powering our motors.

Do you provide on-site support?
At this time, we do not offer on-site support, however, our team is always a phone call away.

What dealer programs do you offer?
We offer the Somfy Expert program — a free program that provides additional support, customer leads, point of sale displays, marketing materials, and more. In return, we only ask that our Expert Dealers quote Somfy on all projects and complete the Somfy Expert learning path on our Somfy U training platform.

What tools are available to help dealers show the various fabrics and shade styles?
Somfy motors work with a limitless number of fabrics and shade types. Typically our dealers work with a fabricator to choose fabric and shade style and produce the final product.

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