6.7.21 – SSI –
Shifting preferences in work and at-home life has created new opportunities for security pros to grow their business with residential A/V equipment and services.
If there was ever a time needed for business adaptability, it’s now. As the world and all business sectors slowly recover from the onset of the pandemic, future growth lies in being agile. That includes considering new market sectors and offerings that security integrators can expand into, such as residential A/V.
Overall, A/V is showing signs of cautious optimism and re-emergence. According to the 2020 AV Industry Outlook and Trends Analysis (IOTA) produced by the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association (AVIXA), the industry is forecast to return to its pre-COVID levels by 2022 before growing to $315 billion in 2025. What’s more, the report stated that the fastest-growing solution is security, surveillance and life safety at 11.4% CAGR.
Although residential integrators reported slowdown, many have indicated that homeowners are eager to invest in new A/V technology as they spend more time at home. Some of the equipment and services in residential align with those already offered in the security market.
New Focus on the Home Front
While COVID-19 isn’t in the rearview mirror yet, residential integrators have had to pivot in order to solve new challenges: work from home (WFH) demands, and increasing desires for more entertainment and seamless home automation. WFH has driven the need for more professional, high-quality conferencing and collaboration systems — equipment normally used only in the office.
After all, if employees are expected to be as productive at home as they are in the office, they need more than personal consumer-level equipment to make that happen.
Another result of the increased time at home is it gave people ample opportunity to ponder the state of their domiciles. Homeowners want to be super users of their spaces and equipment, which includes maximizing not only their new work areas but also comfort and recreational spaces. Whether at work or at play, they want to have a great experience at home.
This leads them to new purchases — everything from smart home automation components to new A/V entertainment systems.
When cinemas shuttered their doors, sales spiked in high-end displays and projectors capable of recreating the beloved movie-going experience. Likewise, when live music events were canceled, live music streaming subscriptions grew. In order to bring the concert home, listeners started gravitating toward dynamic sound systems capable of immersing them in music. This trend has encompassed everything from multiroom audio systems to high-fidelity pro audio loudspeakers.
Smart home automation has become the sweet spot of residential installers in recent years. This streak slowed briefly then continued steadily throughout the pandemic. Reports from ABI Research suggest the smart home market will be worth $317 billion by 2026, representing an additional 5% of growth over pre-COVID-19 forecasts.
A byproduct of these A/V trends is that there are now more high-end devices and equipment installed in a home, which end users want to protect with smart security solutions. With security rolled into the installation and product services, it provides an opportunity to more deeply integrate with a home control system.
This gives homeowners the benefit of only having to use one ecosystem to oversee their home as well as one-stop-shopping with a security integrator who has pivoted to add more A/V services to their menu.
A/V Amps Up RMR Potential
Recurring monthly revenue (RMR) is now more important than ever before. Offering managed service contracts for remote monitoring and management can result in fruitful passive income.
Like security components, A/V devices require special care and attention to keep them healthy and reliable. When they’re on the network, it offers the added benefit of balancing time management and customer satisfaction. One thing A/V integrators know is that their job is never done, especially for A/V-over-IP systems. Customers need to know that the systems they’ve invested in are reliably online and functioning properly, especially in this WFH era.
Adding RMR monitoring services of A/V devices is in the wheelhouse of security, where ongoing trust is already an important part of the business. That relationship can be deepened when customers know their key safety systems, such as intrusion zones, door locks and garage doors, are monitored as part of their home automation system.
Professionals already familiar with RMR services can expand them with A/V services, such as smart power distribution units (PDUs) and managed A/V switches. Smart PDUs have controllable outlets that can be serviced from RMR software, enabling tasks such as remote managing and monitoring and reboot capabilities. A/V PDUs come in rackmount models, or as small device models that can be added to smart TVs, cable boxes and media players.
The latter may be more suitable for security professionals because they can be installed quickly and easily. Power over Ethernet (PoE)-controlled managed switches can also be accessed through RMR software, providing remote reboots when devices are not functioning properly.
In order to add A/V-related tasks to existing or new RMR services, look for software that grants multiple user roles and permission to ensure proper security. Some RMR software provides insight into network statistics, such as bandwidth or port errors from managed switches, which aid in remote diagnosing of problems.
Building A/V Sales & Marketing
How can security integrators take advantage of these opportunities? One idea is to get close with the home building market. New home builds are perfect because they’re a blank slate where homeowners can focus on the current and future A/V and security needs of their home from the ground up.
Second, leverage the power of social media and online marketing. It’s an emergent audience, especially on Instagram and Pinterest, where homeowners seek out inspiration. Invest in the right ad sponsorships and work to create a following in order to develop new and ongoing business.
A big part of knowing where to start is with education. AVIXA, the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) and National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA) all deliver a wealth of training opportunities.
When in-person conferences resume, the InfoComm and CEDIA tradeshows are great places to build relationships with vendors, start networking and get a feel for the A/V side. Partner with vendors who provide great support and customer service. Likewise, explore the growing force of vendor education and training programs.
A/V & Security Are Lock & Key
Those who want to expand into A/V will find that doorbells, surveillance cameras and other security systems naturally tie into residential A/V. After all, homeowners are looking for a seamless, accessible and easy-to-use experience that security installers have worked to deliver for decades.
With integrators not only able to recommend and install conferencing and collaboration systems, home automation and other AV components, as well as the surveillance and security solutions to support and protect them, homeowners will have an end-to-end system where they can feel safe and sound.
Art Walker is CEO of Auton Motorized Systems.