When creating a showroom, integrators typically try to re-create the feeling of being in an actual home. Beemer Smart Home, located in Kirkland, Wash., one-ups those spaces by having the owners’ actual home do double duty as an experience center.
“We decided to host our showroom in our home due to the fact that people need to understand what the experience is for the products and services we offer,” says Beemer co-owner Håkan Olsson. “You need to be able to show the experience in a home environment to the architect, designer, and the end customer. If you tell a customer, ‘You should get Ketra because it is tunable lighting,’ they look like a deer in a headlight. But when we have them stand in our kitchen and we show them what 3000 Kelvin is and then you turn it to daylight, then they say, ‘Of course, we want this.’ In my opinion, you can only do that in a home environment.”
“It really just evolved,” adds Kim Olsson, co-owner of Beemer, “because in the other house that we lived in before this one, when we were more focused on AV and home audio, Håkan started having people come over to listen to speakers because they wanted to hear the difference between good, better, and best models. So, he did this weird setup in our other house, and it worked really well. As we started introducing more products, like Ketra, it evolved, but it really started with the speakers.
“Then we moved to a new house where we could really customize the main areas to better suit the business while still making it a comfortable living space, and that’s when we decided we could really make this work. We still partition off part of the house — guests don’t go upstairs to our kids’ bedrooms — they typically stay on this main level and down in the basement for the home theater.”
“We worked with the builder of this house to get all the wiring in that we needed,” says Håkan. “We envisioned that we would want to showcase everything from audio and video to lighting and shades. Now, six years later, we are showing what you can do to retrofit your house, because that’s what we are doing.”
Booking a Tour
Not just anyone can walk into the Beemer showroom — all appointments are pre-qualified to make sure the customer is serious, and also to know what they are interested in seeing so that the tour can be customized. A typical tour takes about two hours, and they do between five and ten tours each month, plus they partner with local rep company Market Share and Lutron to host a quarterly Design Series Event where they fill a day of appointments with local architects, designers, builders, and Realtors.
“Typically, we book a two-hour time slot, and when they come here we start with giving them an overview of what it is we do and how we do it,” says Håkan. “We emphasize the importance of networking as a foundation and then, on top of that, the three pillars of security, comfort, and entertainment. Then we cover the ability to control it easily with Control4 because people in general don’t understand the full depth and breadth of what we do and how it all fits together.”
“They sit in our living room on our sofa and we have a Samsung Frame TV that we put our slides on after we’ve invited them in and given them something to drink,” adds Kim. “We do our overview, which is about five slides that walk them through and explain how everything fits together. Then we move into the actual demonstration phase, usually with lighting.”
“We start with showing them the Ketra by Lutron demonstration,” continues Håkan. “It’s pretty much the standard demonstration with daylight matching and dimming to 0.1 percent. We also have a 12-hour cycle program that presents it all in one minute. Then we move to the kitchen island where we show the vibrancy and what it does to flowers and food, and we have a piece of artwork in the adjacent hallway that really makes a difference when you adjust the colors.”
Driving home the real-world applications, the Olssons also show how the lighting colors affect the artwork created by their 10-year-old twin sons, as well as what it can do to a Lego dinosaur. “It’s all about living with the technology,” says Kim. “How fun is that? The kids come home with their artwork, and we say, ‘Let’s put it under vibrancy and change it to different colors.’ That reinforces the notion of having fun with the technology.”
They follow up the lighting demos by showing the motorized shades from Lutron in the dining area, as well as Insolroll outdoor shades, which utilize a Lutron motor, making their patio more comfortable.
“After that, we typically go into audio because in this home we have all built-in invisible Stealth Acoustics speakers,” says Håkan. “Many people haven’t heard them before, and the general notion is that invisible speakers are not as good as traditional speakers. But we have it set up here with AudioControl amps and really tuned in, so it sounds fabulous, and most people are just blown away with the 170-degree dispersion, which means that when you walk around, you don’t have any hotspots.
“Next, we show them Control4 and what you can do with surveillance cameras, the automated locks, an integrated security system, and all that. Then we finish it up with the theater demonstration downstairs, which is a full Dolby Atmos experience with Stealth Acoustics speakers, AudioControl amps, and a Sony laser projector.”
Finally, the tour returns to the kitchen where they discuss impressions, answer questions, and decide on next steps.
Results and Upgrades
The home tour method has worked out well for Beemer, with a success rate north of 90 percent in turning client tours into business. “More importantly,” says Håkan, “is that, after they’ve gone through the house, the scope of the job is two or three times bigger than what they thought they were going to want. For example, eight out of ten customers say that they’re not going to have a theater when we pre-qualify them, but when they sit through our theater demo, they change their minds.”
Beemer does have a more commercial-oriented showroom and warehouse in Cle Elum, Wash., but home is where the residential showroom — and warehouse — live. “In most cases, we ship directly to customers and just have a tech be there to receive it when it arrives,” says Håkan. “We are fortunate to have a large show home with a big, three-car garage and a 15-foot ceiling. We use that as storage as well for now. As we grow, though, and we see this coming in the next year or two, we will likely get a separate storage location.”
That is not all that is changing, as the Olssons are looking to introduce new products into their home shortly. “I think the big thing we’d like to tackle in the next year and a half would be more exterior landscape lighting,” says Kim. “We do some of that now, but we don’t have it incorporated as part of our showroom. We’ve got a big backyard, so I think we’re going to evolve that area more.”
As can be assumed from those future plans, the Olssons have no intention of giving up their home-based showroom, no matter how unusual it may seem to some clients. “I think it gives a lot more credibility,” says Kim. “It helps people see that you know what you’re talking about because, if you did it all yourself in your home, then you know how to do it for theirs. Sometimes people ask, ‘Is this really your home?’ It just seems to work.”
For more information, visit www.beemerhome.com.