Company Expands Integrator Focus After Homebuilders were Slow to Embrace Concept

A year ago, a new company was formed by respected veteran members of the custom integration industry intent on offering high-end, high-design, pre-engineered home theaters directly to homebuilders. With the concept slow to gain traction, according to founder George Walter, RAYVA is correcting course to focus its marketing and pricing on CEDIA-style integrators looking for an alternative to fully custom home theater designs.

“We were making progress, but it was a little slower than we expected, particularly with the production home builder community,” Walter said. “We’ve done projects with builders, but they seem to be more interested in offering ‘smart homes’ rather than homes with theaters.”

Although the company built relationships that Walter hopes will pay off three years down the road, the company is moving from away from a 90-percent focus on builders to a 60/40 effort with integrators, designers, and architects.

The company is not exclusive to the Azione Unlimited buying group either, though it continues to serve as a vendor to those dealers (rather than finding builder and connecting them to an integrator).

Here’s how Walter explained it: “If a customer walks in the door looking for a theater, the dealer can do it the way they’ve done it for the past 20 years, designing something from the ground up, or they can offer a RAYVA pre-engineered solution,” he said.

RAYVA even changed the way it priced the product to make sure it was more comfortable for dealers and the way they were used to buying and reselling product.

“Prior to that, our system was that we were going to invoice the builder and then commission the integrator,” Walter recalled. “Now, we are going to sell to the integrator at a dealer price. As well, we are going to be a little more flexible for integrators that are committed to certain products (control systems, seating)… If they have a strong alliance with some vendor, we’ll work cooperatively with them.”

Since introducing the change in approach this past fall, RAYVA has been more effective, Walter said. “Now we’re actively working with about 20 dealers,” he noted. “We’ve received a couple of orders and numerous plans. That’s integrators bringing us plans and us creating the proposal.”

The company has added two showrooms. One in an office building in White Plains, NY, and the other in a dealer’s showroom in San Diego. “In New York, we’re experimenting a bit with reaching out directly to end users, having events there for architects or real estate agents, to show them the theater and present the value proposition under either new construction or a major remodel.”

RAYVA also has been reaching out to to designers via direct mail and working with AIA’s New York tri-state area branch. “Dealers and reps can use our White Plains showroom,” Walter said. “It has a 14-by-18-foot theater, a small meeting area, and a showroom for seating options.

Last but not least, the company created a concept called RAYVA Ready, whereby a builder provides a room in the house where the client is interested in putting a theater. RAYVA generates the plans for the builder that shows a graphic representation of what the theater would look like, as well as all of the drawings of where all of the electrical and HVAC and room isolation (if required) would be. Then the builder, during construction, will make that room “RAYVA Ready.”

“If the client is interested in room isolation, they’ll put a room within a room, then reduce sound transmissions from room to room,” Walter said. “And, they’ll prewire it for 9.4.4 speakers, prewire it for a projector and/or a flat panel, and we’ll give them a booklet that will explain in detail what the theater would look like if they choose to pursue it further down the room. Then the house is purchased as RAYVA Ready with a plaque in that room.”

Right now this program is designed to just to cover RAYVA’s costs because its value lies it the ability to connect the company directly with homeowners. “Once they have that plaque in their home, we know who they are. They’ve got a room that’s completely ready to install a theater,” Walter said. “There’s a value to us, as long as we don’t lose money making that room RAYVA Ready. What may happen is that they reach out to an integrator and tell them they want to buy a RAYVA Ready theater, that’s great. We can sell to the integrator at dealer pricing.

Walter said that, initially, dealers didn’t understand that they could resell RAYVA products. Now the company has made it “so incredibly easy to sell.” 

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