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In today's tough marketplace, Peter Belmonte, of Clifton Park, N.Y.-based Belmonte Builders, is relying on the electronic systems contractor (ESC) Ambiance Systems to help him stay competitive in the custom home high-end market north of Albany in upstate New York.
The competition for buyers in his market is fierce, and one way Belmonte differentiates his company is by offering the latest in home technology.
Belmonte has a fairly ready market. Many of his prospective customers are technologically savvy and comfortable with new technology. They use smartphones and computer tablets, and they want home networking, home security, energy efficiency and as many bells and whistles in their home as fit their budget.
“In today’s economy, we must not only meet clients' expectations, we must exceed them in the quality and variety of options we offer,” said Belmonte
And when those client expectations involve the latest in home technology, Belmonte turns to Ambiance and its owner, Marc Leidig.
“Technology is an ever-changing field,” Belmonte said. “I cannot dedicate all my time to keeping up with the newest gadgets.”
“Years ago, we were fortunate to forge a partnership with Ambiance Systems, and that has allowed us to draw on the company’s home technology expertise on behalf of our clients — without having to become experts ourselves,” he said.
“When you rely on a trusted ESC partner, creating and integrating new home technology options into the overall building process is almost seamless,” Belmonte said.
Ambiance Systems, one of the first ESCs to operate in upstate New York, has plenty of expertise to share, which is why Belmonte involves the ESC in sales and customer service processes involving home technology.
When working with Belmonte, Ambiance Systems can help prospective home owners decide what options to include in their home. They also can help home owners maintain — or instruct them on how to maintain — their new technology after the sale.
Ambiance Systems’ Leidig said home owners choose the home technology to address their lifestyle needs and wants from five main areas — home entertainment, such as home theater or distributed audio and video; environmental controls, such as lighting design, climate control and automatic shades; communication options, such as structured cable, computer networks and telephone options; energy efficiency; and safety and security, which can include access control and closed-circuit cameras.
Sparking Interest in Home Technology
Belmonte’s sales teams make the initial queries to determine if their buyers are interested in home technology solutions. In their meetings with buyers, they review an exhaustive list of potential solutions that meet the clients’ needs.
During these meetings, the team determines whether their customers would benefit from discussing technology options with an Ambiance Systems expert who can provide guidance on finding products that are a good fit.
Because Leidig’s team has educated the Belmonte salespeople about what phrases to look for and what technologies are available, the salespeople know when to contact Ambiance Systems to take over the discussions.
Having the technology on display in a model home helps boost sales as well, Belmonte said.
“After we incorporated an entire home automation system in one of our model homes, it sparked interest in home technology options from all who walked through,” he said. “None of our clients would have otherwise known to ask for those products, but when touring our models, they were able to see exactly how each technology could help enhance their living space and the ease with which each system could be controlled. It was a solid selling point.”
Acting on That Interest
Once a potential client shows interest, they meet with an Ambiance Systems representative to scale the home technology system so it adequately addresses both the client’s budget and lifestyle need.
Once the systems are completely designed, built and ready to turn over to the home owners, Leidig and his team walk through the systems with the home owners to ensure that they know how to operate them.
“One trait that every builder should require of their ESC partner is that it has teams in place that can take care of each phase of design, building and maintenance of the system their home owners order. Additionally, the ESC’s design should intuitively be user-friendly,” said Belmonte.
“A walk-through of technology systems in the home should be conducted in laymen’s terms,” he said. “Even a customer who is essentially technophobic should be able to figure out how to operate it.”
While not all of Belmont’s high-end buyers want home technology in their homes, he said, partnering with Ambiance Systems enables him to offer options to those who do.
“We must be prepared to offer home technology options to those who ask for them and allow the experts at Ambiance Systems to recognize which options best suit their lifestyles,” he said, while noting that such partnerships will serve builders well.
“Incorporating technology is gradually becoming a necessity in home building, not an option. Partnering with a home technology expert — a skilled, licensed ESC — will make this transition into the future of home building a seamless venture,” Belmonte said.
Information About Home Technology Available From HTA
The Home Technology Alliance (HTA) is a partnership between NAHB and CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association, that was formed to position the housing industry to effectively meet the growing home buyer demand for home technology and provide maximum return on investment in the new home building and remodeling process.
For more information, visit www.nahb.org/HTA.
CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association, is a founding sponsor in the Home Technology Alliance and an international trade association of companies that specialize in designing and installing electronic systems for the home.
CEDIA members are established and insured businesses with bona fide qualifications and experience in this field. CEDIA serves as a source for electronic systems contractors (ESCs).