Considering Smart Home Options? A Builder's Checklist

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Times have changed. A generation ago, smart home technology gained momentum as an exciting add-on to custom homes, viewed as a nice-to-have and an attention grabber for people with disposable income. Now, it’s a must-have for the mainstream. How can you get ahead of the shift?
Considering Smart Home Options? A Builder's Checklist from Orro on ConstructUtopia.com

Demand for smart home technology from homebuyers is undeniable. It's moved from being a nice-to-have to a must-have for the majority of homebuyers. 81% of homebuyers list smart home features as their most desired feature in new home construction.

Simply put, if you're not offering smart home features to your customers, you're leaving money on the table.

If you haven't offered smart home technology to your buyers before now, it's likely due to one of three common reasons

  1. Concern over data security among your customers
  2. Concern that integrated systems won't perform as advertised, and
  3. Inability to future-proof systems

While each of these is understandableto a degreecontinuously improving technology and plug-and-play solutions are making these concerns obsolete.

If you're a builder asking yourself if offering smart home options is right for your business, there's only one answer: Yes.

Any new leap in your business can seem intimidating if you don't know what to consider and the steps to get started. This guide will provide you a checklist to walk through, step-by-step, to begin offering smart home options to your customers and take advantage of what that provides for the growth of your business.

Offering Smart Home Options as a Competitive Advantage

Homebuyers now expect smart home options to be available. If you aren't offering these options to your buyers, you're at a competitive disadvantage. No matter the size of your market, you have a direct competitor you watch and evaluate. That competitor helps you set the standards for your pricing, your marketing efforts, and your positioning in the market.

If that competitor is offering smart home options to their customers and you aren't, they have a natural competitive advantage over you. But, the opposite is also true. If you're in a market where these options aren't yet available to homebuyers, there's a huge opportunity to make your mark and pad your bottom line as you do..

Why Different Generations Want Access to Smart Home Options

The desire for smart home options is consistent across age groups, but why homeowners want these options are different between the generations. Let's check out these differences.

There are four generations of buyers to consider here:

  1. Young professional buyers
  2. Experienced buyers
  3. "Empty nest" buyers, and
  4. Mature buyers

Each generation thinks about homeownership differently and what it means for their lives.

Young Professional Buyers (25-35)

Young professional buyers fall in the age range of 25-35. They're likely first-time homebuyers and want their experience to be unique and meet their ideal picture of what a home should be and its role in their lives. They care about the energy efficiency of their homes and want to be seen as eco-conscious and caring about the planet.

Connectivity as a standard is important to people in this age group. They want connected locks, smoke detectors, and lighting they can control with an app or simple interfaces across their home. Security is a concern but has a lot to do with geography. If they live in a city center or in the suburbs with their families, security will be further up the list.

Experienced Buyers (35-49)

Experienced buyers are purchasing their second or third homes, and know what they want from the home buying experience. What they want in a smart home goes beyond how they are seen by people their age. Their needs have changed as they've matured, started families, and are looking toward the future.

RELATED: If You’re Not Offering Smart Home Options, You're Likely Leaving Money On the Table

The value that smart home features add to their homes is very important, as is the convenience factor. They want life at home to be simpler because their lives are getting increasingly more complicated.

As they build a family, energy efficiency, safety and security are also becoming more important.

Empty Nest Buyers (50-65)

Empty nest buyers have children that are going away to college or leaving home and are focused on building for and enjoying their retirement. Simplicity and accessibility are more important now than before in their lives, and features like smart lighting and connected security features move up in overall importance.

Mature Buyers (65+)

Mature buyers are in the homes where they'll spend the rest of their lives and are looking to enjoy retirement and their families without too many complications. Safety and security is their primary concern. But more than ever, accessibility in their homes and smart home options that include voice control technology is at the top of their list.

As you can see, there are some differences between what the generations want from smart home technology, but there's one thing in common: it's expected. And that expectation is an opportunity for you as a builder to take advantage.

Smart homes are right for the customers you're working with, no matter their age, occupation, or desire for having access to what they provide. The next step is to think about what it takes for you to get these options into your mix as soon as possible if they aren't there already.

Things to Consider as You Add Smart Home Options to Your Product Mix

There are several things to consider as you add smart home options to the product mix for your customers, including, but not limited to:

  • Compatibility and connectivity
  • The marketing mix
  • Installation costs (and associated hidden costs)
  • Ease of customer control and adoption
  • Plug-and-play solutions versus patched together solutions, and
  • Overall cost implications versus your return on investment

Let's check these out one by one.

Compatibility and Connectivity

The important theme to remember here is standardization. When you make a few elements of smart home technology available as a standard offering in your packages for customers, keeping things compatible and ensuring easy connectivity for their homes is much easier.

The deeper you dive into a variety of patched-together pieces, or let your homebuyer have too much input in the particular brands or options they want to see in the home, the more complex things get.

Have your favorites. Know what brands you can depend upon to succeed and deliver a high-quality experience and offer those each time there's a conversation to make things easy.

The Marketing Mix

The only thing worse than not having smart home options available is having those options and your customers having no idea you do. The right marketing plan is key to build this awareness.

We're going to cover the importance of marketing smart home options to your customers the right way in a future article, but the basics are valuable, here.

It’s important to communicate what is unique about your smart homes to your customers. What makes your smart homes unique? Do you provide more convenience through programmable smart lighting which learns the homeowner’s behavior? Do smart locks help people feel more secure? Do smart thermostats help with overall energy efficiency?

Whatever elements are the core of what you sell in smart home solutions need to be at the center of your marketing campaigns to set yourself apart and communicate what you offer to customers. It’s also important to focus on how your customers will feel in their smart homes.

Homebuyers want peace of mind, safety, security, and to feel like they're being energy efficient. Talk about your products in a way that fosters these feelings and you'll have a new customer.

As you get closer to a sale the level of detail should increase. For example, a listing should sell feelings, then when you do a viewing and have the opportunity to meet with someone face-to-face you can demonstrate functionality and show how things work. Once that relationship is built, a natural opportunity comes around to sell some bundles and upgrades to increase your overall profit from the project.

What Role Does Your Manufacturer Play in Marketing?

Another thing to consider is the role of your manufacturing partners in the marketing process. Some manufacturers will provide you with marketing materials to use in your campaigns, and other times, you’ll have to do everything on your own. 

A strong social media presence is also essential. Will your manufacturer provide you with some social messaging to use on channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? Or, will you need to hire a contractor or a part-time social media manager to do some social media work for you?

Installation Costs 

It’s also important to consider the role installation costs will play when offering smart home options to your customers. You can offer WIFI-certified smart home experiences for less than $750 on the lower end. 

Lennar and Eero have great options within this price range. And, at an entry point, there are options like Ring as well, which is less than $250 bucks to get started.

In the grand scheme of things, $750 is a minor price for a homebuyer to pay to have WIFI-connected features weaved into their new home. And that’s exactly how you can communicate this within the sales process.

Ease of Customer Control and Adoption

Even though smart home technology is now a need-to-have rather than a nice-to-have for 8 in 10 homebuyers, these 8 buyers still have some reasons to hesitate, including:

  1. Concern that installing smart home devices could reduce privacy
  2. Being coerced into buying products they don’t actually need, and 
  3. Concern that security breaches could expose their important personal information

Therefore as a builder, it’s your job to be proactive about these potential concerns. Make sure to talk about the steps you take to protect your buyer’s privacy and keep their personal data private. 

Be honest about how you sell smart home technology to homebuyers. Don’t make claims about what these technologies can do without being able to back up those claims with data.

And, make sure to have a crystal clear policy and process that outlines what you do to ensure that security breaches won’t happen. After all, security is a shared value for almost all homebuyers, so you need to make sure your buyers feel secure, for them to be comfortable working with you as a builder.

Centralized Solutions Versus Patched Together Solutions

Standardization of smart home technology is the new normal. Large builders like Lennar and DR Horton have made smart home technology standard in all new construction, and Amazon’s in a constant push to get Alexa and other smart home devices into as many new apartments and condominium projects as possible around the world.

These companies recognize the value of a centralized solution. One that’s a part of the home and ready to be used, with all of the parts in place. This solution is the opposite of a patched-together experience that is disjointed and disconnected. Every device has its own app, requiring you constantly have to switch between one and the other to make things work. 

A patched-together solution with different elements requiring several apps to control everything is not a true smart home experience. A centralized solution with a single control is a true smart home experience.

It’s also important to know that voice control, by itself, is not enough. Alexa helps you to do single tasks, but it’s not the solution. You may be able to lock the door by asking Alexa to do so, but that doesn’t mean a porch light will turn on at the same time, for example.

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As a builder, you can work with an installer and integrator to get a process down which makes adding centralized smart home options a no-brainer, and one that has a big return on investment for the time it takes to get the projects done.

There’s no longer a need to patch together a bunch of different pieces from different manufacturers to try to build a solution your customer wants. That’s the past, and there’s no turning back.

There’s something else here that’s interesting.

Working with a company that provides standard smart home technology options saves you money. You’re no longer having to track down devices from multiple manufacturers and patching together a solution that may no provide the experience your homeowners want. When you work with a company that offers a centralized system, with a single control point, the experience is better for your customers, and everyone wins.

In Conclusion

Today’s homebuyer no longer sees smart home technology as a luxury, but rather, as a necessity. Offering centralized options as a standard part of what you do as a builder puts you in a great place to stand apart from the competition, and earn new financial rewards in doing so.

If you have smart home options available, but your customer isn’t aware you do, this is worse than if you don’t have them at all. The right marketing plan helps you to build awareness of the options you offer, and make it easy for your homebuyers to get on board.

Doing the homework to make sure you can offer consistent connectivity, market to the right customers, standardize installations, and make things easy for your customers through a simple, centralized solution is worth the effort.

Patched together solutions are a thing of the past. Centralized solutions with a single point of control are the future.

Orro consolidates all of the hardware needed for interior smart home living into a single, easy-to-install system. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to separate yourself from the competition and add to your bottom line in the process.

Unlock your smart home opportunity today with Orro’s smart home solution for builders!