There is a reason why we are hearing so much about residential dealers taking on light commercial work these days, and that reason, in a word, is “opportunity.”
Demand has surged for the middle area of commercial — the single-room update of legacy technology, boardrooms, bars, restaurants, and so on. Residential dealers are in a more agile position to complete these smaller projects than their commercial brethren. With the demand in commercial integration companies surging, these small jobs are often overlooked, but can provide a sizeable business boost — and additional projects — for a residential dealer.
I recently heard of a real-world example of this phenomenon from one of Legrand’s CI dealers. A local-to-them Mercedes dealership was looking to add videoconferencing to its conference room, as customers were buying luxury cars without stepping into the showroom, and the dealer wanted to make sure they had the most reliable virtual experience possible. The dealer had a hard time connecting to a commercial integrator that would normally service a business like his. In frustration, the owner of the car dealership reached out to a residential integrator who had done work on his personal residence. The residential dealer immediately responded with an on-budget and timely solution. The dealer was quickly able to add the remote sales tool to his staff’s resources. Customers, sales staff, and management were all delighted.
The appetite for technology from the people that own, manage, and invest in these businesses — and the money they spend on it — is much different than it was just a few years ago. They’re leveraging technology to create a unique experience in their spaces.
I saw an incredibly well-done example of this while at a conference in Texas. A local residential dealer took us to a speakeasy he had worked on that was underneath a coffee shop that used to be an oil change place. They built the speakeasy by joining the pits underneath where the guy would be under your car — imagine how low the ceiling space was. The dealer admitted have an immediate reaction of, “How am I going to make this work?”
His “we-can-do-that” residential mindset kicked in and a creative solution was agreed on. Downstairs they had monitors on the walls that were like fish tanks. The sound was commanding but not loud because they had the speakers positioned properly. The bass was powerful, and it made feel like you were in a stadium. The dealer pointed out that the goal was to make this space feel much bigger than it was, but still be intimate — the tech created a completely immersive experience while blending into and respecting the speakeasy design and millwork — mission accomplished!
Though the space looked unusual, for the dealer it meant turning Sony flat panels on their side and scaling the video in portrait mode. It wasn’t even a different skillset for them — just a different environment that they are now looking for more work in. And that particular project spun off into doing residential work for partners in the speakeasy.
The bottom line is — whether it is a car dealership wanting to add videoconferencing with a very busy customer or a bar owner that needs to upgrade — this middle commercial market is severely underserved.
The local community is rife with opportunities to expand into resimercial. We’ve all seen social media posts of commercial tech done poorly — perhaps you’ve even posted a few yourself — but have you thought about asking them why they haven’t upgraded? The price of tech has dropped dramatically — for example, safe mounts, robust networks, and video distribution are easier to use and half the price of what they were a few years ago. Let them know what you could do for their space with a little investment. Even if they don’t bite right away, when it is time, they will find you.
And once you have the work, lean on your vendor partners to help through the parts you are unfamiliar with. This is common practice in the commercial world and manufacturers like Legrand that are in both spaces are ready to assist. Legrand offers technical support by brands, so, say you’re in the Washington DC market and you need somebody to go look at huddle spaces for a car dealership. There’s an in-market brand manager who is a networking expert and who also knows a lot about commercial architecture.
Even before you get on-site, we have teams that can help design the project and assist in getting the sale. For example, we have a section on our website that provides comprehensive conference space diagrams for 11 different room situations, complete with gear lists. All those systems are pre-engineered and are up and running in real spaces around the country — there is no beta testing here.
And that is just one of the areas where Legrand can provide extensive design work and planning. When you go back to a customer with a proposal that includes design schematics and an expectation of how it will look, those close at a significantly higher rate than just a providing receipt for services.
This is great time to expand into the resimercial market. And if you run across something you have not done before, remember that your vendor partners probably have, and are here to help.