Not many macho custom integrators will admit they play with dolls, but the team at Home TheaterWorks in Alpharetta, Ga., is downright excited to talk about it. To be perfectly clear, it is not dolls, but a fully functional automated “doll house” they play with, and it has become an integral part of how Home TheaterWorks demos its automation expertise to potential clients.
The company, which has been a Control4 dealer for nine years, outgrew its previous space and added another 3,200 square feet to its showroom in suburban Atlanta back in January of this year.
According to Rick Lozano, the team had originally asked themselves, “'How can we best demo Control4?' So we had set up the entire facility to run on it. While this worked fairly well through the years, many new functions were not easy to incorporate, and eventually it became difficult to demonstrate without impacting some regular business functions.”
Namely, whenever customers demo’ed the equipment, they would adjust the light levels willy-nilly and pump various tracks of music through the audio zones covering the entire facility.
“It could make it difficult to work in the office. If a client had the remote, he or she could literally turn everything off,” recalls Lozano.
As part of Home TheaterWorks new facility expansion that began in January 2016, the company was left with considerably more wall space.
“We were faced with the challenge of how to best utilize this,” says Lozano. “Many ideas surfaced — kiosks, vignettes, etc. — all seemed workable but the one thing all missed was a unified way to show what Control4 can do throughout your home. Our project manager Jason Kovach came up with the idea of building a house. He and I designed and constructed the ‘doll house.’”
The 16-foot-long/9-foot-high doll house is the first thing a customer sees when he or she enters the store.
The Control4 system controls:
- Lights – real lights on the eaves of the house can be adjusted
- Alarm – a recorded message says, “The police have been called.”
- Music – audio plays
- Shades – a mini shade moves up and down
- Door lock – a tiny door can be opened and closed
- TV/video/Blu-ray player
- Water control valve – a garage area with a Dam It water shutoff valve is mimicked
“It is a great focal point for the showroom. The demo wall allows us to present the concept to clients who have never seen this technology in an orchestrated ‘walk-through’ fashion, and it allows us to hand the client a remote without fear of them shutting the store down,” says Lozano. “Additionally, it provides us with a training platform which considerably reduces the learning curve for our clients who have installations scheduled.”
In all, the project took about 60 man hours to complete. The doll house is constructed of 1×3 and 1×4 lumber and is painted the same color scheme as an exterior patio in the back of the showroom where Home TheaterWorks has a cedar pergola with planter speakers. The sales team has a scripted demo they recite, but there are also postcards on the wall that explain each of the functions for customers who are playing with the system solo.
In May, Home TheaterWorks held a grand opening with clients and local dignitaries.
“Every one of our guests, many whom own Control4, commented on what a great idea it was and how well the display turned out,” says Lozano. “Automation has a certain level of mystery to it. Behind the scenes of a system, customers do not ‘get it.’ We wanted to de-mystify it. We aren’t hiding automation in the store anymore.”