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Shades Week: Raising the Shades to Revenue

Motorized shades are the perfect complement to experiential AV. Here’s how to get started.

Shades Week - Draper At Home - Logo

In his best-selling book, In Search of Excellence, business management author Tom Peters wrote, “If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” Clearly, Peters wasn’t an integrator, or he’d know that motorized shades are, indeed, a big window of opportunity. They not only are a profitable category to deepen the AV experience, but also fit right in the automation and lighting control category. As experts in this area, integrators are well-positioned to offer this smart yet functional solution for lighting control. However, success depends on a strong strategic approach.

One obstacle that integrators must overcome is the idea that shades don’t fit their trade and skills. Shades might be thought of as an element of interior design. But beyond fabric, motorized window shades can become part of the automation and lighting control experience. Plus, lighting control has become increasingly important in luxury homes as the wellness benefits of human-centric lighting are evident. On their own, they can yield substantial profit from the get-go.

Legrand Shades - Lifestyle

The key to growth in this category is to leverage existing relationships. After all, it’s easier and far less expensive to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. Often, it’s even easier than expected with many installers simply reminding their clients about their shading services when they are doing other AV maintenance or upgrades. Be ready to provide a customer with a ballpark range. That number will let them know if it’s something they can reasonably afford before you spend time measuring. Of course, shading should be listed on websites, mailers, leave-behinds, and any other marketing materials.

Shades Week 2023: Shades in Action!

Perhaps the biggest fear for those who are just getting started in shading is fabrics. There are a lot of choices, but one of the many things that make integrators great in the business is their ability to listen to customers. AV integrators could write the book on listening to customers since it’s critical in creating solutions to their problems and providing a great user experience. Shading fabric is no different. Customers want light control, privacy, and great finishes that will spruce up the room and match the room aesthetic. In any case, their answers will often narrow down the selection to only the fabrics that will fit their requirements.

It also helps to keep your fabric offering limited initially. Start with three or four fabrics. This will eliminate the overwhelm that numerous options can cause, both for you and for the customer. Also have light-filtering and blackout options, as well as decorative choices for added functionality and variety.

Legrand Shades - Close Up

Another top concern that installers have is measuring, but with practice, it’s much faster than you think to become proficient. Learn measuring techniques and manufacturer tolerances to ensure a precise fit. The more accurate the measurements, the more successful the installation.

The other driving factor will be features. Like any other AV component, each brand offers unique features that will differentiate the lighting control experience. For example, Legrand Shading Systems offers a patented manual override feature. Should the power go out or the user loses the remote, the shades can still be raised or lowered manually. Get familiar with the features that each brand offers in order to align them with the client’s lifestyle.

Shades Week: From Building Partner to Shading Client

Finally, it’s not possible to talk about shading without control. Control, as mentioned earlier, is essential to bringing shades into the smart home automation experience. This is where integrators will feel most at home and should use their expertise to their advantage. Choose a shading system that’s compatible with your preferred AV or lighting control system to save time and frustration during integration.

When it comes to offering shading as a service, it can be a lot to undertake. The best and strongest business approach is to create a specialized role for a designated shading expert within your business. That person will concentrate on projects where shading is being installed and oversee the entire process. Another alternative is to partner with shading professionals who already have plenty of experience under their belt and can support sales and installations.

Shades Week: Adding Instant Shade Expertise

Like anything else in technology, shading has a learning curve, but one that installers possess the right skills to overcome. Start strong out of the gate by doing what you do best — asking the right questions, listening, and identifying the shading system that’s going to integrate seamlessly with the home control system you carry. Success is literally just a window away.

Richard Laliberty serves as product marketing manager for shading and residential controls at Legrand. He can be reached at [email protected].