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4.24.20 – SSI –

With the right approach, security dealers can convince technophobic parents and homeowners they can learn to love smart locks.

Some people love all things “tech.” They love to purchase and own the latest and greatest technology, be it the latest curved flat screen or the hottest smart oven, or the most advanced smart locks. In fact, according to a smart lock audience segmentation study conducted by Kwikset, 39% of smart lock purchasers are either “tech enthusiasts” or “discerning home curators.” These smart lock owners have a “high interest in technology.”

Technology was not the primary driver behind the motivation to purchase for the rest of the survey participants — 61% in fact — who fell into the category of either “traditional safety seekers,” “everyday fixers,” or “no fuss buyers.” These smart lock owners had somewhere between an average and “low” interest in technology.

This means that 61% of smart lock buyers are purchasing smart locks for a reason other than the technological sophistication of the devices, and many of these consumers likely have some degree of technophobia — particularly the “traditional safety seekers.”

A “safety seeker” is a homeowner who puts their family’s security and safety first, irrespective of how that security is delivered. These “traditional safety seekers” are, according to the study, 77% female, with more than half being parents to kids under the age of 18.

As parents and homeowners (also 77%), they are ideal candidates for purchasing smart locks. But as consumers with little to no interest in technology for its own sake, they might push back against the latest technology if it’s not presented in the most benefit-oriented way, a way that appeals to their desire for safety and security, rather than leading with the technology aspects of the lock.

So what is the best way to sell smart locks to this large consumer population? Get a horse! America has a long and storied history of technophobia. Alexander Winton founded the Winton Motor Carriage company in 1896. In an article penned for the Saturday Evening Post in 1911, he described the early days of the automobile industry and the negative reaction he received from people who doubted the viability of the technology:

“To advocate replacing the horse, which had serviced man through centuries, marked one as an imbecile. Things are different today. But in the [18]90s…I began to be pointed out as ‘the fool who is fiddling with a buggy that will run without being hitched to a horse.’”

Newport wrote, Morse “did face skepticism, but it was less about the utility of the inventor and more about whether it would actually work… After Morse got a line up and running between Baltimore and Washington DC, however, much of this doubt vanished.”

Newport’s conclusion: “This was not…an innovation that had to overcome strong opposition once its practical value became clear.”

Newport used the Morse story to explain how practical benefits, once clearly conveyed, can override most technological fears. This same concept holds true when selling technology like smart locks.

For “traditional safety seekers,” it should come as no surprise that the Kwikset survey concluded “better security” to be the main driving force behind their purchase and among the most important benefits. But these buyers are not alone in citing security as a primary concern.

In fact, a recent survey conducted by Parks Associates of U.S. broadband households that also own smart devices showed that almost 38% of those surveyed cited security as the primary purchase driver, second only to convenience. The close relationship between security and smart homes is also further clarified in a 2019 Park Associates white paper showing that 63% of households with security systems also owned a smart home product.

Increased Security Is Easy to Understand

With the best smart locks, physical security is built in. Let your customers know that the smart locks you offer provide material advantages such as all-metal, tamper-resistant interior escutcheons, UL certification and BHMA residential-grade certification. Talk up features that highlight the quality and durability of the device, features that will make new smart lock customers feel more secure in dipping their toes into the water of electronic locks and home automation.

Also be sure to seek out and highlight the technological features of smart locks that ensure greater security. These features can include technology that protects homeowners from lock-bumping; anti-hacking features; the ability to easily re-key locks; and master codes that prevent the unwanted addition and subtraction of user codes.

Real Benefits Bring Peace of Mind 

Personal codes instead of physical keys. With personal codes, parents don’t have to worry about their kids misplacing their key and getting locked out of the house. Plus, they don’t have to worry about keys getting into the wrong hands.

Temporary codes let homeowners control who is accessing the home, without handing out keys. The temporary code can even be set up to function during a limited, preset time. And users can be notified if the service provider doesn’t leave during that scheduled period.

Security is knowledge. When connected to a home automation system, smart locks can gather and disseminate important information – delivering an audit trail about who has entered a home and when.

Security is control, from any location. If users have a smart lock that can be controlled through a Web-enabled device, they can also lock and unlock the door and provide access remotely. So, if homeowners need to provide access to a relative, neighbor or friend, they can remotely unlock the door to allow access, and lock the door after the invited guests have left.

Control of an entire connected home. When a smart lock is linked to a connected hub, homeowners can program the lock so that each family member can have a safe, personalized scenario set up for them when they punch in their user code or use their smart phone to open the door.

Homeowners can rest easy. Homeowners can have a restful night knowing their house is locked up tight. From their bed, with a connected smart lock, they can use their tablet or smartphone to make sure all the access points are shut and locked tight. If the lock is part of a connected home automation system, parents can use their phone or tablet to set up a bedtime scenario of doors locked, shades drawn, lights dimmed and alarms set. Which all makes for a better night’s sleep.

Security beyond the front door. Dealers should consider and explain the security benefits of smart locks to customers, beyond the locks located at the main entrance to the home. In fact, smart locks that are paired with a wide array of home additions and special rooms, both inside and outside the home, are an intriguing option for homeowners.

No Engineering Degree Required

“But what about installation and set-up?” the technophobe might ask? Those benefits sound great to the customer who plans to hire an installation expert. But what about the DIYer who would like to do the install themselves?

We all have an ingrained trepidation when it comes to overly complicated product assembly. Maybe it stems from getting those toys and games when we were kids that stated “some assembly required” on the side of the box.

So now we hear about a technological innovation like the smart lock and assume (or have been told) that installing said smart lock will be a process beset with frustration and wasted time.  End users and even installers assume that they are going to have to drill a hole in the door or chisel out a frame or perform some complicated electrical work.  This couldn’t be further from the case.

The hole for the mechanical deadbolt works just as well for a smart lock.  In fact, in some cases, the smart lock might be a better fit.  Today’s smart locks increasingly feature smaller footprints and tapered parts, to help ensure that everything fits, and the door closes correctly.

If the door doesn’t fit after installing a smart lock, odds are that there are issues with the door frame or jamb – not the lock. To address this potential issue, before the old/original deadbolt is removed the installer should ensure the bolt is free to move and does not bind up or have any issues closing freely. It is important to address any issues with the door frame or warping before the electronic deadbolt is installed.

And as for complicated electrical work, or wiring, there is none.  Smart locks are battery operated.  Popping in the battery is as easy as, well, popping in a battery.

Don’t Be Afraid of Technophobes

Many smart lock sales opportunities exist within the technophobe group. All you need to do is show these prospects that their fears are unwarranted, and that the security-enhancing benefits of these products are clear and easy to understand.

With the right approach, you may be able to convince technophobic parents and homeowners that they can learn to love smart locks and all the down-to-earth benefits they provide.

Nick English is North American Sales Manager for Kwikset Residential Access Solutions.