The Big Idea with Ron Davis
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Idea of the Month
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month's great idea comes from Jack Schultz.
Schultz's great idea: “You need to own the home!”
— Jack Schultz, Metronet Integration”
T SEEMS AS THOUGH I'm always writing about (or to) Jack Schultz. That's because our paths have intersected many
times. We’ve also been friends for a long time, and done much business together. Schultz, along with his wife, Gillian, owns Metronet Integration, a full-service entertainment, automation and audiovisual installation and servicing company.
Our relationship started many years ago when Chicago-based Metronet also included “Security” in its name. We helped the Schultzes sell the security portion of their business so they could focus on what is really their passion, their present company. We are also customers of Jack and Gillian, and have had their systems in our home for years.
Future of Alarm Industry Includes A/V & Automation
Jack Schultz is also what I would call a “futurist” when it comes to all of the industries whose technology systems may go into a home. Not so inconsequential is the fact that both he and I seem to be on the same page when it comes to the future. So when I asked him, “If you had just one really great idea about the future
of all of the connected industries, what would it be?” His answer, in typical Jack Schultz form, was simply, “You need to own the home!” It took me a few moments to understand what Schultz was saying, but once I did, I knew it had to be the focus of my next column. So here goes.
Of course, Schultz doesn’t mean that you need to own the home, literally. What he means is that any dealer of any of the connected services — e.g. security, A/V, automation, and anything else you can think of that is connected into the home, including the network itself — has to be owned and controlled by one entity. Hopefully, that entity would be you and your company. So if you’re an alarm dealer, as many of SSI’s readers are, you
may need to expand your tech horizons. Not just for now, but also, think of the future.
I recall in the early years of the alarm industry, in the 1960s and ’70s, alarm dealers would talk about whoever owns “the last mile” into the home, wins. The new “last mile” is not the telephone companies’ underground cables anymore, but rather, the black box that controls all of the interconnected systems that
go into a home. So now, when we talk about “stickiness” (i.e. enticing customers to stay with a particular company), which absolutely affects attrition, we talk about all of the integrated systems that are being bought, serviced and invoiced through one company.
How to achieve it? Not easy, but certainly doable. Start adding components and services from the adjacent industries that comprise home technology — entertainment and/or home automation systems. Just like alarm dealers, home A/V and automation (including lighting/shade control, smart thermostats and more) dealers have their own meetings, conventions, etc. and it would be relatively easy for you to attend one of these. Just
go online, and look up the acronym CEDIA, which stands for Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association.
Use CEDIA as a Resource for "Owning the Home"
At one time, we thought that the dealers in CEDIA would also be selling security, and many in fact do integrate alarms, video surveillance
cameras and such within a control system (SSI sister
publication CE Pro has a readership of these dealers). We also thought alarm dealers would be cross-selling home entertainment and automation systems. Some have made the crossover and are now well-positioned to offer a wide array of services and products to “own the home.”
How can you catch up and do the same thing? One way is instead of going through a long, arduous and possibly expensive learning curve, try to acquire or partner with companies that offer what you don’t — thus presenting to the buying public a one-stop solution for all of those connected technologies that go into today’s typical home.
Here’s a sample paragraph from the brief letter you can send to a potential partner: “Perhaps you never thought of offering alarm services. As an alarm dealer I’ve never really given much thought to selling home entertainment systems. However, today’s marketplace is so competitive and has so many opportunities for creative marketing that I thought I’d reach out and see if we could sit down and explore ways and means in which our two companies could work together. Sound interesting?”
Seek out companies that you may be able to acquire or partner with to offer customers a much richer, all-encompassing home installation opportunity. Seems simple to me, and hopefully it will be equally as simple for you. Make sense? Jack Schultz and I agree that it does