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Have a Jolly Holiday

Use your Smart tech to make the most of the season.


Christmas is almost upon us. No doubt this weekend, for most, will be spent running around finalising preparations for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It’s the time of the year when we want everything to look and feel perfect, and then spend a couple of days eating, drinking and making merry. So make the most of your home comforts and use your Smart technology to make sure it’s all that it can be.

  • Build your Christmas film list today ready to watch all your favourites in your home cinema. Download the films you’ve been waiting to watch from Kaleidescape and have them ready to play on the big day.
  • Wake up to your favourite Christmas music!  A simple ‘Good morning Alexa, play Christmas!’ and you can get into the festive spirit with music streaming through the ceiling speakers throughout your house.  There’s nothing quite like watching the kids open their stockings and listening to a bit of Last Christmas by Wham!
  • If you’re not at home on Christmas Day, make it look like you are. If you have Smart lighting installed, use your simulated occupancy settings to make it look like you’re there. Security is important all year long but especially at Christmas when many homes are left unoccupied with a whole host of brand new gifts inside.
  • If you have a Smart doorbell, like Control4’s Intercom Anywhere, have a bit of fun with it! It’s unlikely you’ll get any unexpected visitors, but if you do and you’re not inside the house, use your app to make it sound like the party’s just inside. Sing them a Christmas carol at full volume and they’ll soon leave you to it!
  • If you’ve got a long journey back home after visiting friends and family, set your ‘Welcome Home’ just the way you want it. Bring the house to life, make sure it’s warm and inviting with your favourite music ready to greet you and you can continue the celebrations when you get in.

And what if you don’t have the technology yet? It’s never to early to plan for next year. Whole house audio, a home cinema, Smart home control – whatever it is that interests you, Ugot are here to help. In the meantime, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Assistive Technology in Care – Money saving or life changing?

There was a great news article on BBC South Today last week about how Smart technology is changing the lives of those with disabilities.  The feature showed a man using  Amazon Alexa to control his lights and was raving about the benefits of finally not having to rely on a care provider for basic tasks.  It also featured an elderly lady with mobility issues who felt that having her Amazon Alexa made her feel less lonely.  She was able to interact with it and play music through home speakers, this meant her husband felt more comfortable leaving her alone when he needed to leave her alone for short periods of time.

Inevitably there’s been some backlash from those who say that it’s an excuse for local authorities to reduce spending on care provision.  But what’s better?  If there is an opportunity to extend independent living through the use of technology surely that’s a good use of technological advancement?

Innovation empowers

In November 2017 the Innovate Trust, a welsh charity, began a £15,000 trial testing Smart speaker technology with five people with learning disabilities.  Smart technology was installed in their homes and has enabled them to live more independently over the past year.  In addition to this, they operate a Supported Living premises featuring a range of Smart technology with the aim of increasing the independence of residents and therefore enabling them to redirect staff resources more creatively.  The direct result is the empowerment of vulnerable people who would otherwise rely heavily on care givers.

Smart budgeting

It seems then, that this is an argument for argument’s sake.  So long as there’s continued monitoring to ensure complete safety for vulnerable individuals and emergency care, reducing cost and increasing independence is not only a good thing, it’s a great thing!  If Smart technology opens doors (literally and figuratively) and minds for local authorities to think about how best they can use voice technology, sensors, Smart lighting, Smart heating, Smart blinds, Smart door entry…the list goes on…in turn they will be better placed to use care staff  more effectively.  In turn they will become more efficient in delivering personal care where it’s needed most.

Freedom of choice

Ultimately, local authorities should offer choice.  Because a person is deemed as vulnerable – be that due to learning disabilities, physical or mental disabilities – it doesn’t mean they can’t have a choice, but the beauty of Smart technology is that is provides choice.  There’s a whole range of products to make life simpler, let’s embrace it where we can!

To find out how Ugot can help you live more independently call us on 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk


What Ugot that makes you special?

It’s an interesting question this one. When a potential client asks you the question “Why you?” Have you got an answer? It can be easy to lead with what products you sell and what they do, but that’s not what they’re asking. What they really want to know is, are you worth taking a risk on, and why should they partner with you on their project?

Whether you’ve been in your industry for a few years or whether you’re a new business, when you’re putting yourself out there and promoting yourself the same thing matter. You need a reason, something that’ll make them take a chance on you. Essentially it comes down to proving yourself, and admittedly, if you’re a new player it’s going to be harder but that’s OK because you need to earn a good reputation.

Value your client, value yourself

I was told a story the other day about a builder who’d installed a kitchen for someone. He had a great reputation as a builder, his quote was exceptionally competitive and the initial RSJ he’d installed and plastered looked great, the client thought she’d made the right decision. Fast forward six weeks and the poor woman’s tearing her hair out. Despite being a ‘good’ builder, he outsourced the kitchen fitting to contractors. Her list of complaints were as long as her leg and the photos prove it. She hates to admit it, but she realises now that his quote was competitive for a reason. He wasn’t an experienced kitchen fitter, he was using cheap, unskilled labour, and she now finds herself in a position of having to rip out the entire kitchen and start again with the paltry remains of her once healthy budget. And the builder? He’s done a runner and his reputation’s in tatters.

So what’s the lesson here? It’s simple, be an expert; be great at what you do and always deliver; never underestimate how important customer service is, and be honest – with yourself as much as the client. If you can’t deliver and the client’s budget doesn’t stretch to you employing the right contractor, don’t fake it, it could ruin you. Find yourself some trusted partners and recommend them with a guilt-free conscience.

And if you’re the one looking for an expert consider the following:

Find someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who has expertise. Even if they’re starting out it’s ok to take a chance but they should be upfront about being new but still be able to show a large degree of knowledge in the area they’re working. Ask questions. An Electrician is not a Home Cinema Expert in the same way that a Chef-de-Partie is not a Pastry Chef, they’re skilled in their own areas.  Knowing some of what they’re being asked (and Googling the rest) is not enough.

Shop around, different suppliers may use the same products as their counterparts but what are they offering that gives you the comfort of knowing that they really know their stuff? What’s their differentiator? Are they on top of technological advancements? They might not be able to predict the future but if they can talk about their take on trends and how they’re planning to integrate them into their business, and ultimately work with you, then it’s a good sign. Will they stick around to finish the job, even if there’s a hiccup? And finally, think about the level of customer service you expect and the customer service you pass on to your clients, let them know your expectations and accept nothing less.

Chauffeur driving the homebuying experience

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

Life beyond the lawnmower

There was an article in a national newspaper yesterday, instructing the general public as to the top 5 smart gadgets to invest in. Two of these products made sense, a smart home heating thermostat and a security doorbell. One however, it probably not on the average home owners’ essential buy list – the smart lawnmower, nice to have but not essential. 

What, then, was the point of the article? To stir interest or to excite the reader? Either way it seemed like a wasted opportunity. For most, smart integration is relatively new but the possibilities are endless. The technology, in reality, goes far further than the article hints at. In fact, the smart home integration market is doing seamlessly now, what was mooted around 12 years ago. It’s integrating the life of the average homeowner, not only making it more convenient but also more secure. The article talked about a self-dimming lightbulb, what it didn’t mention is that you can now install a lighting system, doorbell and CCTV system that can be managed from one control hub – be that your smart phone, tablet or remote control.

The beauty of a smart home is that it’s as unique as the home owner. Love parties?  Integrate a full home entertainment and lighting system that you can control at the tap of an app. Often away for business or leisure? Keep an eye on your home and make it look as though you’re cosied up in the lounge watching TV from the comfort of your hotel room.

“The beauty of a smart home is that it’s as unique as the home owner.”

If you’ve only just discovered the Internet of Things, this is your chance to change your world.  If you’ve got a couple of devices, don’t just think about what they can do in their simplest form, think about what the possibilities could be. The range of smart devices out there is huge and growing all the time but the smart home owner will be thinking about how these things can work together simply and effectively to really make a difference to how they live their life. 

Think smart, be smart, visit www.ugot.co.uk