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Teamwork makes the dream work

Use your differences to collaborate for the best outcome.

Let’s face it, the first thing everyone does when they create a marketing plan is look at their SWOT analysis. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. It is essential to know what all of these are because they help clarify what it is you offer and to whom. But I’ve noticed a massive shift in thinking since I qualified in marketing some (ahem) 20..ish years ago working for Big Blue (IBM for anyone under 30 before you Google it – they used to sell computers once upon a time). Where there used to be a mass of negative thinking about the competition (they might steal our business, let’s hammer them, we are better than them because…) collaboration is now key.

Never before has it been so important to embrace others in your industry. I’m a member of a number of collaborative business groups (Hampshire Women’s Business Group, Collabor8, and My VIP Card to name a few) and the most positive thing I experience from all of them is how much people want, and need to collaborate nowadays. We all want a piece of the pie but surely you want the piece of the pie that you like the most? Personally I want the sweet, flaky pastry. You on the other hand probably want that warm, sticky apple oozing from the centre. You see, I’d happily eat the whole lot but I’d most enjoy my favourite bit, that’s the bit I get the most satisfaction from.

You can do it, but should you do it?

So let’s apply this to the working environment, home cinema installations are a perfect example. Many a tradesperson could happily source a projector and screen, install the electrics, paint the walls, lay a laminate floor and present your ‘Home Cinema’. But you’d be throwing away money because it may look good, it may even be cheap, but acoustically it would be awful. And when the Home Cinema experience is all about hearing and seeing a movie in the way it was intended by the Director, you’d end up asking yourself why your tradesperson didn’t offer you a better service in the first place!

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

What a good tradesperson, an should be doing is the bits they are expert at and then use their network of trusted contacts to work with them. They will have built their network over time and, recognising when they are not the expert, will call upon someone who is to complete the project with them. First of all they’d build, wire and prep the room, then they’d use experts with years of experience and training in acoustics to design the room, source and install the ‘tech’ (because they’ll understand the attenuation, know where to hang the baffle, and will know whether to diffuse or deflect sound waves in order to decide which ends of the room should be dead or live). Then, the tradesperson will call upon an expert in soft furnishings to fit the carpets (which won’t distort the sound like a laminate floor) and install the right furniture. And at the end of it? A happy customer who can tell their friends about each of the experts they encountered, and projects which take less time for each expert and enable them to move on to other clients more quickly.

Collaborate to Win

Collaborative business is where business is now – and to survive Brexit it may the only way for some companies. Let’s face it, we all have to work, and if you have to work you may as well enjoy what you do. Focus on what you’re really good at, what you really enjoy, and what you get the most satisfaction from. A happy by-product of collaborative working is that you’ll get more business. When you’re part of a trusted network you automatically widen your audience. You have access to your ‘team’s’ network, and they yours. It’s a win, win situation.

Tips for Collaboration

It’s far quicker to build a house together than for one person on their own.
  • Be good at what you do
  • Be clear about the services you offer and always, always deliver the best service you can for your customer
  • Seek good, reliable people that you want to forge a relationship with
  • Actively promote others when it’s not a job you can do because even if an enquiry comes and you pass the work to someone else, that client will remember that you helped them initially and may well use you in the future
  • Make collaboration part of your marketing plan
  • Don’t get spooked! Sharing is caring – it’s not about stealing business, but sharing it

And most importantly remember, it’s teamwork that makes the dream work.

Community Matters

Volunteering isn’t just important, it’s essential. It’s unites people from different backgrounds, strengthens communities, promotes self-esteem, lowers stress and makes a difference.

Giving back is one of our core values at Ugot. Bryan, our MD, was a school governor for eight years until his children moved on to secondary school a couple of years ago and is now the photographer for a youth rugby team. Jane, our Office Manager, was actively involved in a school PTA until last year. Jason, our technical manager, is a trained search and rescue volunteer and Caz, our Marketing Manager, volunteers one day a week for The Courage Foundation UK, a local child bereavement charity.

This year we’re extending our community outreach programme to support local groups, charities and schools and each week a member of the team will be allocated some time to help with a group or project. We live in the same town as work so it makes complete sense that we should be encouraging our own community to thrive – but we need your help to do it.

Bryan Vint, Jane Vint and Caz Meech.  Some of the team at Ugot.
How could the Ugot team help you?

So, tell us, do you have something we can help you with? Our skills are varied but we could give technical advice or support for a school performance, we could contribute to a school lesson, we could attend and support a careers fayre or sponsor an event you might be holding, or even a sports kit.

If you have some suggestions for us and you’re in the Southampton/Winchester area, please get in touch! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Just email caz@ugot.co.uk and we’ll see what we can do!


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!

Top tips for Smart planning your project in 2019

It’s that time of year again. Some of us love it (a new start), some of us dread it (those dreaded resolutions), but all of us should see it as an opportunity. After all, you can’t turn the clock back but you can plan more wisely as you look forward.

So, what are you planning? Are you planning a house build? A refurbishment? Or maybe you’re simply planning an update at home to embrace the new technologies that have snuck onto the market much more quickly than any of us were expecting! Whatever it is, here’s a few top tips for introducing Smart technology for more efficient and comfortable 2019:

1.     It’s never to early to think big. You might be drawing up the plans for the future home of your dreams or you may be ready to start knocking down walls but either way, think big! If you want to include any Smart technology, the sooner you plan it in, the easier, and cheaper, it will be and the more you’ll be able to include. To use technology that is robust, secure and reliable you’ll want to cable it in properly and if you can include this in any plans before you even get started, you’re making everyone’s job easier from the get-go.

2.     Think about future proofing your investment. Don’t just think about what Smart technology can do for you now – clever lighting, heating, audio – think about what could be added later. Let’s face it, we didn’t realise a year ago how fast the technology would move so we can only imagine what could be added in the future.

3.     Do your research. Don’t be tempted to grab the cheapest items on the market, or even the brand names you’ve heard of. Often, the best technology is offered by names you’ve never heard of, but the experts are well aware of. Ensure that the products you’re investing in are sturdy, intuitive and expandable. Check that they do more than you want them to. Why? Because anyone’s circumstances can change and if you have the technology in your house that can change with you, you won’t regret it.

4.     Make your life easier. Let’s face it, if you’re investing properly in Smart technology, don’t just make it work for you, make it work with you. You might have thought about voice controlled devices around the home, but have you thought about how your home could be ready and waiting for you before you’ve even stepped through the front door? Smart technology can even look after your home whilst your away! Do it properly and your home will be more secure and more comfortable for years to come.

5.     Get recommendations. Find a trustworthy company for your installations. And if you can’t get a recommendation, trust your gut, if you gel with the people dealing with your enquiry it’s generally a good sign. Scientific research has shown that if you combine your fact finding with trusting your intuition, the better your decision-making can be.

If nothing else, this will at least help you think about what you want. Plan well, do it right first time and you can look forward to a Smart future for you, your family and your home.

 

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

 

How do we replace Opus systems?

It’s no secret that Opus multi-room systems, having been around for quite a while now, are coming to the end of their natural lives.  Our repair visits are becoming more and more frequent and we’re replacing a large number of MCUs and amps across the country.  Often our clients are putting off the replacement of  their systems because they assume it will be expensive, time consuming and messy, instead opting to repair time and time again.

Here at Ugot we’ve listened to our clients and after hearing the biggest concern “Will you have to pull my walls apart to replace the cables?” we’ve developed an innovative way of reusing the existing cables with new systems such as Control4 and Elan g!  On the whole this means we don’t need to make a mess or damage your walls, it is more cost-effective to replace and can be done much more quickly than a full strip-down.

So, we’ve put together a short video that dispels the myths and puts your mind at rest…Enjoy!

Call us on 02380 253399 or email sales@ugot.co.uk to discuss your Opus replacement.

Is shopping getting Smarter?

A couple of weeks ago, Waitrose announced a move into the Smart market for food deliveries. Being trialled in a small area of London, they will install a Yale lock for free and offer free Waitrose deliveries to those willing to take part. A Waitrose Partner, wearing a chest camera will have access to the customer’s house using a temporary code to gain access. They will then unpack the delivery and leave, the footage will then be available to view on the next working day.

There will be lots of views on whether this will work and how safe this is and it has already been criticised, but here at Ugot we like to think about the positives and the benefits it brings. Its easy as an able-bodied individual to overlook the stumbling blocks others face. For example, we’ve recently been approached by a client who is interested in automating many areas of his home because a close family member has reduced mobility. In this instance, he wants to return their independence and allow them to feel they have control over their comfort. To also have the ability to have their shopping delivered by a trusted person who can gain entry and put the food away if he is not at home is something that would benefit them greatly.

Trust is everything

The key word in the previous sentence is ‘trusted’. Waitrose is a quality brand that has a reputation of a certain ilk. ‘Never knowingly undersold’, ‘Waitrose and Partners’ – their marketing screams that they are looking after their customers and Partners (staff) and this is why the scheme is likely to work. They’ve gained the trust of many. And if being able to see the video footage the next day is not soon enough, there’s nothing stopping the home owner from installing other Smart items such as interactive screens that they can call up on their phone and watch the delivery in real time.

A fully stocked fridge awaits us all

We’ll be watching with interest, we know it can work, customers are offered convenience, peace of mind and independence. We also know that similar services have already rolled out in the US and Scandinavia and have been welcomed with little scepticism. With the increase in Smart technologies entering the home market it is becoming easier for customers to keep track of what’s going on at home while their away, or unable to answer the door. In the US Amazon seems to leading the way with end-to-end deliveries and the use of Smart locks, we’ve just been a bit slower on the uptake. Perhaps the key to it is that once we order our groceries online, we know we can come home to a fully stocked fridge without having to lift a finger! All we need next is a robot chef…

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.

Got a problem? No problem.

Opus multiroom AV logoWhat do you do when something you’ve bought goes wrong?  Take it back to the shop, receipt in hand? Check the warranty and then call a service centre, safe in the knowledge that your product will be fixed one way or another?  But what happens if the company that you bought the item from no longer exists, or what if it was already installed in the dream house you bought a couple of years ago?

Find an expert who can help

This is exactly what has happened with the Opus multi-room home entertainment system which first came to the market around 15 years ago.  Installed in luxury homes in the UK and in Dubai, the multi-room entertainment system created an experience for home owners that allowed them to access their entire music and film collections throughout their homes using wall mounted touch panels and remote controls.  It’s a great system but since leaving the market a few years ago, Opus has been replaced with state-of-the-art solutions such as Control4 and Elan to name a couple, and there’s only one company in England who can help when things go wrong.

Common problems, easily fixed

You may have had the Opus system installed yourself or be the heir of such a system installed between 2003 and 2012 in a home you’ve purchased.  We are now starting to see an influx of issues with the system, due to its age, but we can help.  Common problems include the touch screens failing, power surges overloading the system following the installation of a smart meter or wireless router, speakers buzzing or humming.  If you have experienced these issues or any others, don’t fret.  We can  diagnose and often repair common issues to keep your system running, as do for home owners every day.  If it can be fix, we will fix it.

Ugot are the only smart integration company in England supporting Opus.  If your system is unfixable, or you just want to upgrade to another system we offer up to £1000 discount even if your system is faulty.

Opus up to £1000 trade in offer

Need us?

Call 02380 253399 or email sales@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