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Can You Earn $150/Month per Account for Services Alone? OneVision Says Yes

OneVision Resources develops instant triage, basic support and monitoring service program that it believes is repeatable for all integrators to use. Find out how it works.

Can You Earn $150/Month per Account for Services Alone? OneVision Says Yes
OneVision Resources’ tech support team aims to support other integrators’ installations with instant triage and basic remote service.
Credit: Photography by Jonathan Kannair

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More about OneVision

OneVision Resources partners with home technology professionals to provide a high-quality support experience to their clients with a 30-minute response, 24/7. In addition, the...
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  OneVision Company Info
Jason Knott · March 29, 2016

Is the existing business model for custom installation outdated? OneVision Resources in Boston thinks so.

The eight-year-old company has completed a bold transition from being a custom integration firm that physically installs equipment in homes to a service provider that helps the rest of the industry build RMR (recurring monthly revenue) and focus on billable work by offering to manage their service desks.

OneVision is the latest custom integrator to go from being a competitor in the industry to becoming a service provider to the industry. “Following in the footsteps of Stuart Rench of Ihiji, Scott Marchand of Slateplan and Kirk Chisholm of SupplyStream, as former integrators we identified a problem in the industry and now as vendors we’re providing our solution to the rest of the industry at large,” says Joseph Kolchinsky, founder and managing director of OneVision.

Indeed, the company has placed itself at the forefront of a paradigm shift aimed at guiding the entire industry away from its dependence on equipment markups to a service-based RMR business model. The end result being happier customers, improved levels of service, more profit and ultimately higher valuations for custom integration companies when seeking an exit strategy.

Surely, OneVision’s ideas will ruffle some feathers. But as the industry plods along with the same business model developed in the 1980s built on making money from equipment margins, OneVision has been challenging the status quo and is now enabling other integrators to piggyback on its “instant triage” and “proactive monitoring” business model. And the company is not alone — at least one custom installation company, Symbio Lighting + Control in Houston, has inked a deal for OneVision to service its high-end clientele allowing the company to focus on billable work and saving tens of thousands of dollars in man-hours and service costs.

Why Not the Status Quo?

Home technology professionals face continued decrease in margins in virtually every equipment category. Flat-panel TVs, touchpanels, automation systems, multiroom audio systems, motorized shades and other categories that used to carry hefty margins are now sold at minimal mark-ups, while at the same time the total prices have fallen dramatically. CE pros have been forced to maintain the value of their labor to make up for the shortfall. Many integrators work harder than ever before, doing more projects at lower margins to keep pace.

“Integrators are investing time without getting paid for it. … It’s hard to build a sustainable business.”
— Joseph Kolchinsky, OneVision

Now here comes the Millennial generation, a group of 80 million just entering their prime spending years who are avid discount-seekers that prefer to be DIYers when it comes to their home technology. The future growth prospects could be bleak for integrators unwilling to change, but for those who are willing to embrace service and RMR the prospects are brighter than ever given society’s increased dependence on technology.

In the meantime, if you broadly break down the phases of a traditional custom installation business — marketing, design/ sales, equipment acquisition, installation, programming, training and service — most integrators are only getting paid for one task: physically installing the equipment, while subsidizing the rest of the process.

“Integrators are investing time without getting paid for it,” says Kolchinsky. “As an industry, we’re investing time in presales and design. Then we engage with the client to properly design and project manage the process. Then we engage in the engineering and documentation of the system. Then we finally get to the point where we’re ordering all the hardware. But there’s so much more hardware involved in a system these days, and everything is so connected and requires so much programming that even simply ordering hardware from a plethora of providers has gotten more difficult. It’s hard to build a sustainable business.

“Then you finally get to install the system,” he continues. “This is the point today where the traditional integrator is making money, but there’s still more labor to be subsidized. Integrators now need to properly program these increasingly complex systems and provide training that requires an increasing amount of hand holding. Then it starts all over again for the next sale.”

The final phase of any project is the expectation of after-install service. This is where Kolchinsky sees the opportunity through instant triage, basic support and proactive monitoring to respond to clients’ needs, without the need to roll a truck. As customers become dependent on having a technology concierge on call, integrators create a secure source of monthly revenue. “Client engagement is the key to making up lost revenue from shrinking equipment margins. I think the industry is maturing and a lot of integrators can likely benefit from the wonderful new, white-label services sprouting up to help generate RMR,” he says.

The Integrator Service Desk

OneVision Resources started back in 2008. For many years, the company specialized in personal technology devices (like smartphones, email/calendar/contacts and computers) and eventually expanded to home technology. As its affluent clientele started building smart homes, OneVision grew into a traditional integrator, while securing “membership” agreements for an average of $2,500/ month (ranging from $500-$10,000/month based on individual family need).

But Kolchinsky discovered that the two groups didn’t scale well together. At the end of 2015, the company stopped doing physical installations, sold its trucks and transferred staff. It’s now a full-service company for other integrators, as well as for its own clientele.

“After learning firsthand what the barriers were, we realized there is a great opportunity and a need in the marketplace. We are uniquely positioned with our deep experience in service, and our technical expertise as integrators, to provide an incredibly high level of support to our fellow integrators and their customers,” sums up Kolchinsky about the transition. “Every integrator is interested in providing a high level of service not just to build RMR but to also live up to client expectations, but it can be costly to build a highly trained, smart home experienced service team that can respond instantly to every client request.”


  About the Author

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. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jknott@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


Business · Business Operations · Service & Recurring Revenue · News · CE Profiles · Media · Slideshow · · OneVision · Service Contracts · All Topics
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Comments

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on March 29, 2016

@LukeSlater - I think there’s a bit of confusion.  The $500-$10,000/month is the fee we previously charged our end-users when we sold our service to them directly as part of our former integration firm’s offering, which we included in the article as a reference point to demonstrate factually that end-users are indeed willing to pay for high-quality service when it is presented with the right benefits and cost structure.

With regards to the idea that properly installed technology shouldn’t need to be serviced frequently, the market appears to be telling us otherwise. For the AV industry in general, tech support has proven to be one of the most under-resourced and therefore, problematic areas. This isn’t because individual components are unreliable or the installation is low quality, it’s because tech is becoming more prolifically integrated. Previously simple concepts are now exposed to higher rates of failure. End-users demand prompt resolution and by making your firm the one they reach out to, you can easily secure their ongoing business.

For example, watching a movie in the past was as simple as turning on your TV and inserting a DVD - maybe you even had a sound system and universal remote as well. Now, if you’re using Netflix, you need to have a fast/stable internet connection, a robust network, and your account needs to be in good order (many customers change their Netflix password or their credit card expires). Many of these potential issues result in an error message that causes frustration in the moment, and if you’re not able to pick up the phone instantly then the end-user will simply “make do” and deal with it on their own at a later time. Conversely, if your customer knew you were willing to help and that a skilled representative of your company would pick up instantly when they called, they would likely call more often with these kinds of issues. The resulting business can be lucrative and the substantial value of delivering an exceptional experience shouldn’t be overlooked.

From experience we know this is an opportunity for every integrator to charge recurring monthly revenue and build stickier relationships with their end-user customers. Not only will this help integrators grow sustainably, it will help produce more tangible fruit from existing customer bases - a massive asset that’s just waiting to be tapped.

There’s so much more to this and I’d hate for you to come away from this article feeling this isn’t a valuable offering to consider. If you’d like to learn more, please send me a note at joseph@onevisionresources.com!  I’d be happy to discuss this further and answer any questions you may have.

Posted by LukeSlater on March 29, 2016

Let me see if I have this correct. They want us to pay OneVision 500 to 10,000 dollars per month (or as they state an average of 2500/month) to handle level one tech support; i.e. “is the TV plugged in?”, “are you connected to the Internet?”, “let’s reboot and pray” type of support.  When that fails it gets forwarded on to us to really resolve the issue or roll a van out. But in the next breath they claim…“Good luck trying to charge [the client] for that type of incident without being perceived as nickel-and-diming.”?  So we, the integrator are encouraged to be nickle’d/dime’d but not the other way around?

I have no problem billing and receiving payment for services rendered while providing in-house support performed by techs who actually know the system.  At this point I am failing to see the value in this proposition.  Why wouldn’t we just pay someone on staff extra money to be on-call, or hire another dedicated person(s) to handle this…if the service issues were so vast and frequent that we actually needed them? Which also begs the question, if you’re having that many issues that you need to outsource tech support it might be useful to look inside the business first to determine why that would be.

Posted by LukeSlater on March 29, 2016

Let me see if I have this correct. They want us to pay OneVision 500 to 10,000 dollars per month (or as they state an average of 2500/month) to handle level one tech support; i.e. “is the TV plugged in?”, “are you connected to the Internet?”, “let’s reboot and pray” type of support.  When that fails it gets forwarded on to us to really resolve the issue or roll a van out. But in the next breath they claim…“Good luck trying to charge [the client] for that type of incident without being perceived as nickel-and-diming.”?  So we, the integrator are encouraged to be nickle’d/dime’d but not the other way around?

I have no problem billing and receiving payment for services rendered while providing in-house support performed by techs who actually know the system.  At this point I am failing to see the value in this proposition.  Why wouldn’t we just pay someone on staff extra money to be on-call, or hire another dedicated person(s) to handle this…if the service issues were so vast and frequent that we actually needed them? Which also begs the question, if you’re having that many issues that you need to outsource tech support it might be useful to look inside the business first to determine why that would be.

Posted by Joseph Kolchinsky on March 29, 2016

@LukeSlater - I think there’s a bit of confusion.  The $500-$10,000/month is the fee we previously charged our end-users when we sold our service to them directly as part of our former integration firm’s offering, which we included in the article as a reference point to demonstrate factually that end-users are indeed willing to pay for high-quality service when it is presented with the right benefits and cost structure.

With regards to the idea that properly installed technology shouldn’t need to be serviced frequently, the market appears to be telling us otherwise. For the AV industry in general, tech support has proven to be one of the most under-resourced and therefore, problematic areas. This isn’t because individual components are unreliable or the installation is low quality, it’s because tech is becoming more prolifically integrated. Previously simple concepts are now exposed to higher rates of failure. End-users demand prompt resolution and by making your firm the one they reach out to, you can easily secure their ongoing business.

For example, watching a movie in the past was as simple as turning on your TV and inserting a DVD - maybe you even had a sound system and universal remote as well. Now, if you’re using Netflix, you need to have a fast/stable internet connection, a robust network, and your account needs to be in good order (many customers change their Netflix password or their credit card expires). Many of these potential issues result in an error message that causes frustration in the moment, and if you’re not able to pick up the phone instantly then the end-user will simply “make do” and deal with it on their own at a later time. Conversely, if your customer knew you were willing to help and that a skilled representative of your company would pick up instantly when they called, they would likely call more often with these kinds of issues. The resulting business can be lucrative and the substantial value of delivering an exceptional experience shouldn’t be overlooked.

From experience we know this is an opportunity for every integrator to charge recurring monthly revenue and build stickier relationships with their end-user customers. Not only will this help integrators grow sustainably, it will help produce more tangible fruit from existing customer bases - a massive asset that’s just waiting to be tapped.

There’s so much more to this and I’d hate for you to come away from this article feeling this isn’t a valuable offering to consider. If you’d like to learn more, please send me a note at joseph@onevisionresources.com!  I’d be happy to discuss this further and answer any questions you may have.