Smart Systems Technologies is a total low-voltage integrator operating in Southern California (Irvine, Calif.) and has two offices in Arizona (Phoenix/Tempe, Tucson). SST is a licensed alarm company with a portfolio that includes smart home, home theater, distributed audio, structured wiring, home networking.
The company, No. 10 in the latest CE Pro 100, targets residential tract builders and has a custom division for one-off custom home projects. Jimmy Salloum, SST VP sales & marketing, tells CE Pro how Brilliant has boosted SST’s builder-related revenues.
CE Pro: What made SST seek out a new home automation solution?
Jimmy Salloum: We forever have been a traditional home automation installer – and still are – but we were very hungry for something that could be done in a tract house environment, that would fit into the builder’s budget. We had a lot of builders approach us to do home automation as standard in their communities, and it was a difficult one for the purchasing agents to bite off due to system costs.
We started to see builders trending toward the DIY-type products – smart thermostats, smart light switches, smart door locks – but there was really no integration. It was 3-4 apps, all installed by different trades and not really a good handoff to the homeowner. That was one of the biggest complaints we heard; homeowners were moving in, couldn’t set up their systems, the builder didn’t know how to set it up and quite honestly the trades installing the products were not really geared to help.
CE Pro: How did SST connect with Brilliant?
Salloum: We started with Brilliant pretty early, and they actually approached us; manufacturers do that all the time. They came in and did a presentation, and there were a couple of large things that stood out as being very viable for our business.
First, it was one of the first products we’d seen that had full Ring integration inside of the home. We liked that because we sell intercoms and video intercoms, but all of our builders were moving toward a video doorbell and it was difficult to find anything that integrated one.
The other was their ability to communicate with consumer-based, DIY smart products and bring them into one app – thermostat control, door lock control, the Ring and then also the fourth piece was Sonos integration. So we felt they really hit on those cores of the smart home and put them under one umbrella in one app, and it was the first time we were able to say, ‘OK, we can finally offer a single-app solution without having to be a full-blown home automation system that costs thousands of dollars.’
CE Pro: How did SST present Brilliant to builders?
Salloum: We took Brilliant to The New Home Company. They’re a tremendous builder, they do a great job marketing, and they were looking to make a smart home splash. As we were having discussions, it felt to me like Brilliant was the solution for them. We brought in a demo and did a joint meeting with Brilliant, presented what the Brilliant Smart Home System was, how it looked, how it integrated … and they loved it, we were off and running.
The price point makes it super-attractive because the cost of entry for the builder is very minimal, really just the cost of a Brilliant Control. And then you have your subcontractors swap in smart home products compatible with Brilliant to make it an integrated system.
CE Pro: What’s the homeowner sales experience like for SST?
Salloum: The big thing we are pushing that’s led to our success is we do what we consider a ‘white-glove’ appointment. What that means is we’re taking ownership of the entire smart home platform in the handoff to the homeowner, after they close escrow.
We send a technician to the home; help them get the apps loaded on their devices; train them on how to use the system; how to set up scenes; and get them comfortable and familiar with all of the integrated subsystems.
Conventionally we’ll have a base program/package that goes into every home – a two-gang Brilliant Control Panel [and other trades installing subsystems]; we also provide standard Wi-Fi; and build in a charge for the white-glove service. Then we have a sales team that meets with the buyers as homes sell, which provides an opportunity to offer additional upgrade options.
We’re probably 4-5 communities in with Brilliant, and those range from 40 to 100 homes. When we meet with the buyer [for potential upgrades] we like to think our capture rate is 90%, which could be a surround-sound addition, more Sonos, a home network upgrade, security cameras, more Brilliant Controls, or smart lighting … there’s a lot of categories and they are all generating additional revenue for our business.