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An Integrators Guide to Home Automation: Tips and Case Studies to Help You Succeed

In the Wild West of home automation, changes and opportunities are coming way faster than ever. Check out this handy guide to help sort things out.

As the saying goes, the times they are a-changin’. That’s always been the case, but lately in the Wild West of home automation, it may seem to be coming faster and harder than ever before. If you’re having a time sorting it out, read on.

We’re all witness to broadly promoted apps that claim to control the smart home, “DIY” low-cost, happy little hubs from no-names to huge brands, bombardment of TV ads for home security control, and the gobbling up of supposed “automation” companies. There’s erupting chatter of smart devices and cloud-based systems, and daily we skim an article about yet another new company, automation DIY box, or life-changing technology standard.

Okay, who’s got the map?

So what’s the best thing to do? Successful companies find a way to ride the waves. Check out these case studies from URC integrators to see how your peers are driving profit in the home automation space. 

Make friends with confusion! Embrace and understand it, stay on top of it, but don’t get caught up in it. If you do, you’re sure to run off the tracks. Which train do you jump on and how do we all stay focused on arriving at the next big stop on our journey?

To move forward, let’s look backward for a moment. Most of you have been really good at designing and installing entertainment systems and home theater control. Guess what–our industry continues to integrate entertainment better than anyone else. We have also been experts at this at URC. But we had to change, too.

Going, going, GONE – IP!
Several years ago at URC, we made the move to the supersonic IP jet as did many in our space. With the latest jargon, it may read outdated, but rest assured, it isn’t. It’s here now and it works. IP systems make it easier to install truly integrated solutions – faster and better than ever. All things in automation are or are going IP – you name it, they got it. You’ll find A/V, cameras, DVRs, thermostats, lighting, pool and spa systems and even IP coffeemakers are on this route. Today “plugging and playing” means joining an IP network. Remember when we only dreamed of this?

Customers get new convenience and are happier with these solutions. They can adjust lights and see their kids from anywhere in the yard or around the world. Plus, IP provides a clear pathway to the future of automation including cool things such as geo-based-location services that will be able to ramp up heat and lights while you’re driving home – without even pressing a button on your mobile phone.

Leverage what you already know
Now that we’re embracing change, I’ll throw a curve ball. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yes, it’s an ever-evolving landscape, but to create an easy-to-use smart home system, you must still be able to eloquently bring diverse products together so they perform as one fabulous system. Similar to the coffee table full of remotes of the past, now you must help customers see that a coffee table full of individual apps is not the answer. Getting home devices to merge and meet customers’ needs is your proposition and always has been! And IP is the core catalyst. With URC’s Total Control®, a base system remains a controller and a remote or app. Yet, now you set the stagecoach for so much more!

IP will lead the smart home solutions bus for the foreseeable future. What’s your mission? Become super network savvy. It’s a key selling advantage. As customers hear the noise and think DIY is as easy it sounds, you can deliver real value now and get them (and you) where you want to go on this exciting journey. Have the solution and focus to sell it! Here are a few great tools to help clients discover what’s possible and help you sell. 95 seconds long, this video lays out URC’s Total Control and what YOU can do for a client in straightforward, consumer-friendly language without a lot of technology jargon. Use it to gauge their interest and qualify them quickly. You can link directly to the video here.

On this trip you can make more money
On the latest control adventure, URC also had to find new ways to help dealers make money. IP-based systems provide newfound ease of install, expandability and service that we – and our customers – haven’t experienced before. Obviously it translates to opportunity for you, but also new revenue streams. If you’re doing IP, great! If you want to consider more avenues or get started, here are ideas on how.

Make the trip—without leaving the shop!
When products sit on the home network, connecting other products is simply more efficient and time saving. Customers expect instant gratification, and you can give it to them. Upgrade and scale systems from your office using offsite monitoring and programming of a client’s secure system. Those days of always rolling a truck are in the rear-view mirror. This savings means more money in your pocket. Sure, you still have to go out to install the latest movie player, but programming additions and changes can now be made from offsite, and this makes you more valuable to customers. And, as you propose a job, let them know they don’t have to meet you at home for service. If they’ve had experience with installers virtually living in their home or delivery companies they have to meet, this is a big deal. Tell them your company is different!

IP also addresses other key dealer concerns. When we chat with integrators, many get a horrified look in their eyes when it’s suggested they go back to a customer and upsell them. Wouldn’t it be great to contact “former” clients and make them “future customers”? Now that’s a trip!

With IP systems you deliver a scalable product where adding rooms, subsystems and apps actually makes sense. For example, our Total Control® IP-based automation system has DMS-Series sources that are configured using drag-and-drop software and can be programmed from anywhere you can access the internet. Add to an existing system without running new wires. Physical location is no issue; just connect to the same LAN as the other devices. This modular approach makes the system useful for years to come, the trip to “I’ll take it!” faster, and you more money.

A kinder, friendlier home automation system

Get ready to go secure all the income you can by eliminating that hard conversation about ripping out the existing, expensive controller or rewiring the home. Once a core controller and a remote or app is in, you can propose the latest networked gizmos, like thermostats or lights, and reap ongoing benefits. Why not use this ticket to your best advantage – during the pitch, the install and for ongoing service? Have a peak at these two key consumer brochures that speak to lifestyle benefits: 

Home Control: Simply Brilliant:

Home Control Starts Here:

Sales and marketing support matters

Like any great adventure, you must be properly prepared with a ticket, the best bag and a current passport. Make sure the manufacturing companies you connect with have both the products and services you need to make this important journey.

Need better pitch materials, videos and images? No time to market? Have someone else do the heavy lifting! URC Marketing is keenly focused on faster, easier ways for Dealers to market their services and products in an effort to expand business.

For example, here are a few cornerstones in the massive number of sales and marketing mechanisms URC delivers. First is the Master Dealer program. This elite program acknowledges dealers who actively promote, demo and support URC and it provides them greater benefits. Among them, Master Dealers enjoy priority listing on URC’s dealer locator and prominent placement on URC’s consumer website where dealers can display multiple photos of their finest installations and tell their story.

Separate newsletters—one for pros, the other for their clients is a visual, go-to resource for customers interested in exploring the world of automation. It also features a leads generator that matches consumer inquiries with local Authorized URC Dealers. Aside from loads of consumer-oriented collateral and videos, the company has two e-newsletters, one of which is geared directly towards consumers with highly engaging content and articles. This publication, “Automated Living by URC”, targets customers who want to learn how we are transforming lives through home automation. Dealers can easily repurpose ANY of this canned content for their own consumer marketing, newsletters and website. Sign up to get the latest news and trends in home automation here