I read an article this week that announced ‘Homes are the new cars’ – and with four kids dumping a whole range of paraphernalia willy-nilly under and between the seven seats, I do often mistake our Volvo for their bedrooms! On a serious note, it referred to what was once a luxury now being offered as standard. Over recent years, car manufacturers have seen huge profit increases through brand lock-ins and connected in-car infotainment systems. Volvo for example has a long-running partnership with Google whose Android operating system powers its Sensus infotainment system and Google universe services will be introduced into its next-generation system.
Now it’s our turn. Where once Developers relied upon high-labour bespoke items with a low-profit margin, such as kitchens, to tempt homebuyers, they are beginning to see the benefits of integrated high-tech add-ons that have a much greater Wow! factor and enable developers to maintain a higher asking-price. How? Well, it’s all about your customers.
In their shoes
Your potential homebuyers, let’s call them Mike and Anna, pull up on-site having seen that the homes are advertised as ‘Smart Ready’, tickling their taste buds enough for them to want to find out more. Mike heads straight to the sales assistant wanting to know the price of the properties on offer; Anna reads the marketing materials and looks at the site-plan, eyeing a nice corner plot, before being shown towards the show-home. On entry they see a strategically placed sign on the walls instructing ‘Say “Lights On”’, Anna is impressed, Mike’s not letting on at this stage. The sales assistant shuts the front door behind them and leaves to view alone.
Walking around, Anna obeys each of the signs from “TV On” and “Heating On Low” to “Chill Out Music On” and “Evening Lighting On” and is enthused. Mike’s quietly impressed but isn’t sure about the investment. Whilst they admire the size of the en-suite bedroom the doorbell rings and a touch screen panel lights up on the bedroom wall. The sales assistant appears on the screen and Anna chats with her before unlocking the front door remotely and letting her in. Now Mike is interested.
They join the sales assistant downstairs and she shows them her mobile phone, revealing that the entire smart home system can be controlled from wherever she is, using one integrated app. She explains the advanced features of the entry system app which allows the controller to activate any type of customisable ‘scene’ in their home, such as turning on lights, opening the garage, unlocking the door or quickly activate alerts such as sounding an alarm, locking all doors, or turning on all interior and exterior lighting for added safety if the property is empty.
Mike often works away from home and this has sold him the house. At first, he was interested in the fact that the house would be ‘Smart Ready’ and he could use his Alexa to turn on the TV but the fact that so many options can be integrated either now or at later stages, and the safety of his family taken care of, will see him pay a premium for the peace of mind. Knowing that both he and Anna can see who is at his front door whilst he is working late at night is an added bonus.
How much work?
So, for the Developer, how much work is actually involved? What do you have to do to maintain your preferred price point? The answer, in reality, is very little. Planned at the right stage, Smart Home Integration, is simple. Planning starts from approved plan stage, (smart blueprints for each house ‘type’ can be replicated across a development), cabling takes place at first-fix by the Developer’s electricians and cables can either remain hidden or be blank plated ready for installation experts to be brought in as and when the customer is ready. Developers can choose to offer Smart Home Integration as part of their overall package or pass on customers to a Ugot expert once they take ownership of their new home.
The key to success
The key to making this work is to make the process seamless. Planning makes it seamless, makes it simple for everyone concerned. Offering something that’s a little bit more than just a ‘nice to have’ and more of an essential in terms of both security and future-proofing a home gives homebuyers confidence. Chauffeur drive the home-buying experience, show them what’s possible and be the industry standard.
By Caroline Meech, Marketing Manager, Ugot Smart Integration. www.ugot.co.uk