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RMR: In or Out?

Snap One's recent customer service options generated some interesting industry discussions.

When Snap One announced it was making its Connect4 automation system Software as a Service, billable directly to the client, and added two levels of customer support, also billed directly to the client, it raised quite a few eyebrows. It also started some interesting discussions.

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We have seen the software as a service offering from an automation company before when Savant did it back in 2021. That announcement garnered much of the same reaction, but the Snap One had the added element of going right to end users, whereas the Savant offering is passed on through its integrators.

Some worried that this direct-to-consumer approach would cut out the integrator by providing a direct line to the manufacturer. The “Sonos Model” was often produced as evidence, although Sonos was designed to be DIY, and Control4 definitely needs the dealer touch.

Snap One provided media access to some members of its advisory board who had participated in the discussion from the start and helped guide the process along. In each case, perhaps unsurprisingly, each business owner saw the value in the SaaS model and in the service offerings directly from Snap.

When asked if any of the companies already had a service plan in place for clients, some did, and saw the Control4 options as a benefit for those that needed it.

In his latest column, Henry Clifford sees this as the turning point for dealers who do not yet offer service plans as a form of recurring monthly revenue. He goes over the four possible paths dealers could choose when adding this kind of service to their business, and he ends with the caveat:

“If you’re not generating RMR in your business and have tuned out the con­stant din of messaging we’ve been subjected to over the last decade, you’re now going to be in the RMR business one way or the other in the coming months. Will it be your idea or someone else’s? Snap One may have been the first to throw down the gauntlet but don’t be surprised if others follow suit in the coming months.”

Things are certainly changing, and with that comes a good deal of anxiety — even if the change is considered for the better. I heard anecdotally that about 60 percent of dealers are currently offering RMR. And while that may be the majority, 40 percent of the market is still quite a bit that have to come on board.

Besides Henry’s column, the other quote that came to mind when this all went down was from one of the dealers on Savant’s board of advisors whom I spoke with shortly after Savant made the move to SaaS. He said that when Savant told the board about the change, they asked for requests, and the main one from the board was, “Don’t.”

In Savant’s case, the move has been very successful, and that same dealer went on to sing its praises once he had some experience with it. And although it is too soon to tell with Snap One’s move, it will likely have a similar result.

But the writing is on the wall for those companies not offering service plans. Now is the time to consider how you can incorporate them into your business.