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Zip Express Offers Hang and Bang Installs For Your Excess Capacity

System connects integrators with consumers, retailers and e-tailers to provide next-day installation service.


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Chris Mauzy, CEO of Zip Express Installation, says his ideal installer is a small, CEDIA-type dealer looking to fill technician’s time with small A/V jobs.

A relatively new company called Zip Express Installation hopes to help custom installation companies fill their technicians' down time with small jobs, like hanging a flat-panel TV.

The jobs are contracted either directly with a consumer or on behalf of a retailer or e-tailer.

The Minneapolis-based company is the brainchild of CEO Chris Mauzy and was borne from his experience helping Best Buy set up an installation service with Geek Squad.

Originally called On Call Installs, the company started in September 2007 with outside funding. It is projecting $5 million in revenue this year.

The Web site is targeted for consumers to post their consumer electronics installation needs -- from big to small -- for next-day installation. Mauzy uses techniques like Google searches and relationships with mega-companies like Target and Amazon to drive consumers to the site.

Zip Express will soon have relationships with six other prominent companies to drive even more consumers. Some of those consumers will be people who just purchased a flat-panel, for example, at a retail store.

If the store has a relationship with Zip, the buyer will be offered a chance to purchase an in-store voucher for installation service. The national flat-rate for installing a plasma is $129. (More commonly, the consumer wants to mount the LCD or plasma on a wall, which averages $399.)

"In many cases, the consumer is literally sitting in his car in the parking lot of the retail store calling one of our live reps on our toll-free number to set up the installation," says Mauzy.

The buyer provides his name, phone and the time he or she wants the installation done to Zip. Within minutes, a work order is sent out defining the parameters of the job to 16,000 certified installers in the system.

Once an installer accepts the job, it becomes a binding contract. Zip Express keeps a percentage of the transaction. The company does not get involved in the delivery of the actual product from the retailer or e-tailer.

"Having installation service helps retailers and e-tailers close the sale," he says. Amazingly, he cites data showing that 33 percent of all the jobs he processes call for next-day installation.

Before the work order is processed, a Zip Express rep goes through a detailed interview process with the consumer, just to make sure they have everything necessary to complete the job.

"We can't stock the trucks for the installers, so we have to make sure the homeowner has the proper cables, etc. If they don't we inform them of what they need and process their credit card for the additional equipment. Then, when the work order is dispatched, all the responding companies know that they need to bring certain additional equipment," says Mauzy.

Right now, the installer cannot upsell the customer to other equipment, but Mauzy says soon the dealers will be able to log in to the Web site, upsell the job, and get a commission.

When arriving to the job, the technician is representing Zip Express, not his own company. Installers are asked to wear unbranded black shirts and brown khaki pants. There is no subscription fee for installers to sign up on the site.

Does this system sound familiar? It should. It uses the OnForce platform that CE Pro has written about previously.

OnForce, which primarily focuses on IT installations, does not market its service to consumers, but instead to other businesses. Mauzy is simply using OnForce's platform and business model with a new target market.

In the future, the system will be offering same-day IT services and TV recycling service.

The technician base consists of OnForce's certified installers, along with an augmented group from Zip Express. So is Zip Express still looking for integrators?

"Absolutely," says Mauzy, saying many of the installation companies signed up on the system are CEDIA members.

"Our ideal installer is a small business owner with three or four guys. We are not here to take business from you, we want to 'buy' your excess capacity for these basic 'hang and bang' installations.

The ultimate proof of how well the system works occurred earlier this year when the U.S. Army was looking for someone to help convert 4,900 barracks nationwide into abodes where wounded soldiers could rehabilitate; they are called "warrior transition units."

The units needed to have old bunk beds removed and replaced with new furniture with computers, TVs, refrigerators, etc. The Army's timeframe was just 13 days!

"We took it on and finished it," says Mauzy proudly.




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Article Topics

News · Business Resources · Installation · Installation · Zip Express · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

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