The demand for home automation technology is rising. With homes becoming smarter, the automated shade market is gaining traction: a recent Transparency Market Research report revealed that the $11.7 billion automated shade market is driven by customization and energy management demand.
Automation is the new standard for window treatments, as homeowners seek benefits such as privacy, natural light management, comfort and convenience, and energy savings. This demand presents an opportunity for home technology professionals, who can add smart shades to their product repertoire to offer a new category of smart devices. To do so successfully, professionals will want to offer the highest-quality, customizable automated window treatments to suit the décor and aesthetic of any home, especially those of multi-million dollar homes seeking whole-home smart systems.
When they partner with the right brand, integrators can provide smart shades for any size project, from a single bedroom upgrade to a whole-home gut renovation.
Buzz for Smart Shades Builds
Hive is a home automation firm offering personalized automation to bring simplicity and security to homes in the Tampa, FL, area. Covering a wide range of needs, it serves middle- to upper-market clients with home automation, security, theater, and lighting solutions.
Within smart home projects, Hive’s clientele was demanding smart shading. With a decade delivering top-tier home automation technology under its belt, Hive was poised for growth as customer demand and appetite for smart experiences changed. The team had offered one shade brand, but they were quickly outgrowing it as expectations for style and automation intensified. The growing pressure to deliver automated window treatments was rising alongside Hive’s growing high-profile and luxury home clientele, who sought the quality and versatility to match décor and light-filtering needs for every room in a whole-home smart system.
Hive was presented with a new opportunity that demanded they take their automated shading to the next level. A gut-remodel project involved installing full-home automation technology for a 9000-square-foot home, with Control4 for the main control and a vast list of other technologies to be integrated, including home theater, sound, security, video, lighting, and entertainment systems. As the team prepared for the installation, it was clear that the client needed a higher-caliber shade option, and Hive needed a brand partner who could deliver customizable shade styles, shapes, sizes, and colors, as well as technology that would seamlessly integrate into the system.
In every project, Hive educates the client about their smart home features, but they were beginners in the smart shade space and needed training to expand their capabilities on the design side to meet the expectations of their clientele. Taking a project of this size and caliber, Hive turned to leading window treatment manufacturer Hunter Douglas for a customizable, high-quality automated shade solution.
Expanding with “A Brand with Power Behind It”
Hive identified opportunity to provide the shade experiences their customers sought. Backed by design prowess in the window treatment industry and its technology platform, PowerView Motorization, Hunter Douglas would deliver on the expectations of all their clients to suit all projects.
Compared to other smart shade brands, the Hunter Douglas motorized portfolio offers hundreds of customization options with colors, fabrics, and sizes to suit any window. Hive gained access to more than 20 styles of customizable shades and a century-long legacy of innovation by adding Hunter Douglas products to its repertoire. “Hunter Douglas is a well-known brand in the shade market for its quality products and great customer service,” says Hive vice president of administration Markie Harris. “To align Hive with that product, it was a no-brainer.”
The Hunter Douglas smart shade solution would expand Hive’s margins on projects, where they could suit homes with more discerning tastes and unusual windows, as well as those in Florida seeking automated shutters, skylight coverings, and more. The aesthetics Hunter Douglas provided were a benefit, but out of Hive’s technology comfort zone. To support the transition, Hunter Douglas offers a Custom Integrator Program (CIP) to guide technology professionals through the new challenges associated with installing smart shades.
Beginning with CIP sales and technical training, the Hive team learned about how color and fabric influence natural lighting, how to configure and size shades across all styles, and how to incorporate Hunter Douglas PowerView Motorization into automation projects. In addition to the CIP, Hunter Douglas Installation Service (HDIS) was available to handle tricky measuring, including feedback about window requirements and specialty parts. These tools and support provided peace of mind for Hive during its first shading project, ensuring it would go smoothly and that they wouldn’t place an incorrect order for thousands of dollars’ worth of shades for their client’s 9000-square-foot smart home.
“While the thought of taking on their full line was daunting at first, we soon learned that other companies don’t offer such an extensive online training program and support throughout the installation process like Hunter Douglas, so that lifted a huge weight off our shoulders,” adds Harris.
Happy Clients and Healthy Profits
The Hunter Douglas custom window treatment portfolio and PowerView Motorization was the right solution for Hive’s customer base’s demand for smart shades. Harris explains, “Hunter Douglas is a brand with power behind it. Anytime we’re talking to our level of clientele, they’re expecting something they know and can trust. It’s a huge selling point and great for positioning ourselves in that marketplace.”
For its first project with Hunter Douglas, Hive’s client selected Silhouette Window Shadings for the whole home. The shades would manage the natural light and create ambiance throughout the home. Featuring specially crafted fabrics and S-shaped vanes, the shades can be automated to rotate and adjust to transform harsh sunlight into ambient lighting. With PowerView Motorization, Hive integrated the Silhouette Shades with the home’s Control4 system so they could be automated with other smart devices with the touch of a button, a voice command, or a scheduled setting for different times of day.
After Hive’s first project with Hunter Douglas, the shade portfolio became a major asset in serving its luxury market, for one- to two-window projects, full-house shade updates, and everything in between. It became a proven profit opportunity: Smart shades offered a 50 percent profit increase per project across labor, programming, etc., which also enhanced the smart home experience Hive could provide. Hive nourished its 24-employee team, doubling its gross revenue to $500,000 in profits with the new category. In the original home installation, $86,000 accounted for shades in the $300,000 smart home system the Hive team installed.
The new category also drove new business, where Hive partnered with local designers. They invested in a design van to bring their shade style and fabric samples to clients and designers to help them envision Hunter Douglas in the homes. “It takes the stress out of the process, and we’ve gained attention and business being able to service them,” adds Harris.
The demand for motorized shades is only beginning its climb, and Hive sees motorized drapes as a growing category in home automation. “People don’t know how much they’re going to love the motorization until they have it in their house,” she says. “We can share our experiences with automated shades and demo the products that bring a new level of simplicity to any lifestyle. I had a client tell me, ‘I don’t know how I lived without this.’”
Hunter Douglas enabled Hive to commit to smart shades to capture the new growth trend and a new client base. When simplified through the right training, support, and technology integration, design can become an asset for smart home integrators.