In recent years, standard home technology packages have been developed, as have upgrade options, much like for any other category of products found in a home.
Today, building for the client who wants to age in place has meant the home technology professional has had to look beyond the traditional approaches of delivering fantastic audio/visual installations to an approach that not only focuses on today’s active lifestyle, but also tomorrow’s possible need for assisted living.
When designing standard technology packages, home tech pros must address three main areas of concern:
- Safety and security
- Social interaction
Depending on a builder or developer’s client base, the home tech pro might need to add additional areas or manage them to meet the clients’ needs. As technology is constantly changing and improving, we also want our standard offering to be both current and upgradable for future needs.
To develop standard offerings, we constantly survey our clients, prospects, and those that decide to do business with others. Additionally, we work closely with our team to make sure we are up to date with the latest trends and products. This has led to the expansion of our firm’s Welcome Home/Goodbye package to include ZigBee locksets on main traffic entry doors and ZigBee deadbolts on others. We constantly ask questions and seek out advice from industry leaders, aging-in-place specialists, and medical partners to ensure that our homes and packages are meeting the needs of our clients.
Relating to safety and security, we include lighting; access control such as locksets, gates, garage doors, etc.; the base security/automation system; and the necessary detectors, switches and access devices. Communication includes internet, wireless access points, and telephone (both POTS and VoIP).
When it comes to the social experience, this includes our multi-room audio, entertainment spaces, intercom, and central vacuum products. Within these groupings we have a base offering, which includes mostly standard home settings such as Welcome Home/Goodbye, Good Night, Movie Night, and Basic Access. These set-ups are included in our basic construction package.
We offer upgrades and add-ons such as Deluxe Home Clean, All-Around Audio, One-Touch Lighting, and All Season Comfort. Each of these upgrade packages is an add-on to one of our standard offerings at a set price. Since the builder and ESC now work closely together, they can establish basic costs based around a known square footage, a standardized, structured wire backbone, and trades that know the builder and home tech pro and work together for a quality finished product.
Work With the Builder
As you work with your builder or remodeler, seek his or her input as to client needs, then develop standard offerings that meet and exceed those needs and desires. Just as the plumber and the cabinet contractor have packages developed for different levels of client needs and means, the home tech pro can develop packages that build on one another.
To create these packages, develop questionnaires, surveys and displays that help the client give you direction as to what they are seeking. Then, discuss solutions and options with builders to place these standard offerings into the sales process; standardize the backbone, then develop upgrades and different paths that meet and exceed expectations.
To develop our basic offerings, we started with a TechHome Rating System Gold level structured wiring package. This level of structured wiring allows for audio, video, Ethernet and communication throughout the home and offers excellent capability for future expansion. This is our basic building block for both our new homes (1,250 to 1,875 sq. ft.) and our aging-in-place renovations. From this backbone we add our security/automation system and now we have the basic platform on which to build our standard offerings.
We have a security component in each of our new builds, created by listening to our clients’ concerns about safety and security, which typically are their number one priority. We make this process easy and without extra steps by incorporating a macro into our Welcome Home/Goodbye setup, which includes three issues our clients say are important: a) feeling of security; b) never arriving home in the dark, and; c) ease of operation for basic lighting, security, and access control.
Here’s how we address client concerns with a macro. Our programming begins with the security component, which secures the premise upon the client pressing the Goodbye button on their cell phone or on a touch panel at the garage door.
When the overhead door comes down, the system arms the home by locking the garage-to-house passage door, checking and locking the front door deadbolt, turning off all lights controlled by the system, and setting back the thermostat (if upgrade is purchased).
The Welcome Home macro includes when/if statements that control whether lighting is to be turned on. For example, when it is before dusk, it turns on exterior lights, the garage light, and the kitchen light. The Welcome Home macro also allows for setting the thermostat to the proper temperature based on time of day (if upgrade is purchased), unlocks the garage-to-kitchen passage door, and sets the alarm system to off. We built these macros as standard offerings due to the overwhelming response from our clients.
Another standard offering is a Good Night macro, that again touches the security, lighting and access areas, but with a twist. The security is armed for night mode, HVAC is set back to proper overnight settings (if upgrade is purchased) and locks are set. However, lighting goes into one of three separate modes. From Good Night until 1:30 a.m., all lights are off except for the master bath, which is set at 25 percent. At 1:31 a.m., the master bath light goes to 10 percent until 5:30 and then goes back to 25 percent until sunrise when it goes off. We built this macro after receiving many requests to have a nightlight/path to the bathroom so that lights don’t come on full or disturb a partner or spouse.
As you can see, our standard packages have the items clients have told us are important, plus they allow us to sell an upgrade to the All Season HVAC package.
Input is the Key
Seek your builder’s input as to what his or her client base is interested in, then develop a demo to show what you can offer for a set price. Work with the builder or remodeler to install this in the model home, sales center, or the builder’s home, and then train the sales staff how to use the system in their presentations – not as sales positioning, but as part of the basic offering the builder is providing.
Home technology is being promoted more and more in everyday media. Our clients are seeking information and the latest in technology for their new homes. Providing your builder and remodeler clients with standard, easy-to-understand technology solutions is a win/win for both the builder and the home technology professional. Look around at what you have been selling on most projects, then develop a package that includes that as standard with a couple of additional items as incentives for both the builder and their clients.
About Ric Johnson
Ric Johnson of Right at Home Technologies is an active member of the National Association of Home Builders Custom Home Builders Committee and was a member of the 2013 #CEDIATweeps social media team. Follow Ric on Twitter at @RightatHomeTech.