What to Look for in a Home Automation Partner
The client isn’t always right; professional integrators need to know when to say, “no”.
Preamble to a true story about smart home integration
People often think they want things a certain way, even if they may not fully understand the implications of their decisions. The home integration and automation industry is one where people commonly make this mistake. They have a certain need and are generally aware of a general smart technology solution for that need, so they assume that solution is right for them. Not being an expert in the home integration and automation industry means that most people think a solution will work for them, when in reality is not a fit. Furthermore, there is most likely an even better solution to their problem that they are not even aware. A home automation integrator is your safety valve to ensure you’re making the most informed decision.
The easiest thing-to-do as a smart home professional integrator is to subscribe to the notion that; “the customer is always right”. Just sell them what they are asking for and close the deal, right? Disagreeing with a client or prospect, even if they are wrong, could possibly cost you the project. Even if it’s ultimately in the client’s best interest, there is inherent risk in pushing back on their requests.
Being a best-in-class professional means taking some risks, like the ones just described. At audioDave, we believe that it’s important to know when to
say “no” to a client or prospect when they are asking for something that is not in their best interests. We value integrity and stake our reputation
on always doing the job the right way for our clients, even if that job isn’t necessarily what the client initially thinks they want.
Today, we’re sharing a real-life example of what happens when the client and the home automation integrator disagree—and how saying “no” was a risk
that paid off for audioDave.
The Problem: A New Layout
At audioDave, we’ve built the word “audio” right into our company name—and as such, our clients assume that our sound quality is state-of-the-art. So when a client requested a surround sound system for his media room, we were initially excited. That was short lived.
The client’s initial request was for a surround sound system for his main living room. However, because the furniture layout was off-centered from the TV, speakers could not be properly placed to allow adequate separation of sound. If you know audio, you know that adequate separation of sound is a requirement to make a true “surround sound” system give the desired effect. Furthermore, the client didn’t want to redesign the furniture layout or to perform any major construction to allow for the sound system to function properly.
The Solution: A Better Investment
To set proper expectations, we explained to the client that installing a surround sound system in their living room, with the existing furniture layout, would not provide the full surround sound effect and therefore would not be worth the extra investment. Instead, we recommended a two-channel speaker solution along with a larger monitor. At first, the client expressed disappointment but eventually agreed to the design. We moved forward and completed the project as a more-affordable two-channel audio system.
The Client’s Reaction to the Finished Product: They Love it!
In the end, our client loved the audio, the Savant Control app on their smart phone, and the overall look and feel of the system. Although a two-channel audio system wasn’t what the client had originally envisioned, he agreed that this solution was optimal—and he wasn’t disappointed with our work. They got the same stunning sound without the bloated cost of a full surround sound system. The streamlined design offered optimal audio without having to reorganize the room’s layout.
Working with developers, contractors, architects, and interior designers
It’s not just working with property or home owners (the end users) where this anecdote is relevant. As professional smart technology integrators and automators, we also frequently work with developers, contractors, interior designers, and architects. It’s common for these professionals to include home automation in their bid and don’t always pull the integrator into the equation early enough in the process. This can lead to the development team committing to automation decisions that they do not fully understand. Consider the story above. If the client really wanted a surround sound system for their new home or renovated and redesigned living room, this would be important for everyone to know before architectural drawing and interior design comps are created. audioDave would have quickly identified the problems with this layout, giving the development team and the client the opportunity to design the room in a way that it would facilitate a surround sound system that would work properly.
The Takeaway: Partner with an Integrator
When requesting any form of integration or automation, it’s critical to consult with an automation expert—alongside builders, developers, architects, interior designers, and contractors—before commencing any project. Bringing an automation/integration expert into the picture helps to avoid mistakes down the road that could cost thousands in fixes. Professional integrators can eliminate potential problems before they develop, advising against problematic requests that could cause expensive re-work down the road. Without the consultation of an expert integrator, projects may move forward towards undesirable results—but bringing an integrator into the conversation early will likely mitigate such disasters.
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