CEO: Despite New Remote, Savant is not About the DIY Mass-Market
Savant CEO William Lynch says the company's new $499 DIY remote, now available at BestBuy.com, is not part of a bigger strategy to sell mass-market home automation.
Savant, a leading provider of higher-end home automation systems, is now selling its new DIY Savant Remote ($499) direct to consumers through Magnolia stores, BestBuy.com, Savant.com and a trial with start-up Enjoy – a departure for a company that used to sell only through home-technology integrators.
But Savant CEO William Lynch wants the world to know that the company is not shifting its business to a DIY model.
“Everything we do at Savant is to try to grow the integrator’s business,” he tells CE Pro.
It’s not about being nice to the dealers that built the Savant brand; it’s just good business.
Sales through professional integrators are an “order of magnitude” greater than what Savant can make through the DIY channel, Lynch says.
Installers have the relationships with clients that lets them sell more devices over the long haul, and support the products as well.
The growth rate for higher-end home automation is slowing and the traditional clientele is aging, Lynch says.
“What we’re trying to do [with the Savant Remote] is introduce a new wave of consumers to automation,” Lynch says. “We believe most smart-home systems are installed by professional installers. We want Savant [DIY] customers to be Pro customers.”
Savant’s pro systems can do pretty much anything when it comes to home automation and multiroom audio/video – surround sound, thermostats, surveillance, motorized window coverings, lighting, water fountains, whatever. The DIY remote, on the other hand, can only control an entertainment system, Sonos audio and lamps via a plug-in Wi-Fi appliance module.
There is now an upgrade path for the DIY product, which wasn’t the case when it was announced less than a year ago, Lynch says. Back then it was a part of its own little ecosystem that couldn’t become part of a full-blown Savant home automation system -- a cause of concern for many dealers who dreamed of upgrading DIY customers.
Before launching the Savant Remote into the DIY channel, the company gave professionals a head-start on the product, making it available to Savant dealers before consumers could by direct.
Modest Improvements for DIY Remote
In the process, Savant made a few enhancements to the product based on dealer feedback.
For example, from the handheld remote, users can control Sonos in any zone of the house, not just a single zone. Previously, this multiroom feature was not available since the remote is considered a one-room solution.
Even so, dealers wanted a way to control each zone from the device.
Savant also improved some of the networking features “to ensure the products work well across different networks,” Lynch says.
On the user-interface front, Savant added shortcut buttons to let users jump straight into the TV’s built-in apps, such as Netflix and Amazon, which could otherwise take a few annoying button presses.
As for voice control, Lynch says Savant “keeps adding to the library.”
Lynch says he’s seeing dealers use the DIY remote ($499 including hub) as an entry-price point and then “as they consult, they’re able to upsell to a Pro system.”
He adds, “Dealers are great at adding value to people’s systems and, in so doing, making money. So allowing them to get into the home gives them the opportunity to cross-sell.”
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Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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