Ben Curry of Electrical Innovations looks at why adding simple smart home installation jobs can provide a big boost to your electrical business.
Smart home technology is a buzz subject at the moment. It seems that (along with EV charging) most blogs, magazine articles or social media channels include information about smart home electrics.
When I talk to other electricians about whether they’re offering and installing smart home products, a large number have turned their noses up at the prospect of taking on a ‘DIY’ job. Indeed, while fitting a Ring doorbell or a Hue light bulb may be something that the customer CAN do themeslves, this doesn’t mean that they actually WANT to.
I’ve been interested in new technology for as long as I can remember, so when products like Nest thermostats and other ‘smart’ devices started to become popular I jumped at the chance to kit out my own home. From there it was a natural nest step to add them as a service in our business and we’ve not looked back.
If you still need some convincing, here are six reasons as to why we love these jobs and why you should consider adding them to your own business portfolio:
1. Increased hourly rate
What’s the going rate for an electrician? £200-£300 a day?
If you tell a customer that your hourly rate is £150 they might wonder how you can charge so much an hour’s labour. However, tell the same customer that you can install their smart thermostat for £150 and their response will be to ask how soon you can come round to do the job!
How long does it take to install one? About an hour.
Amazon, John Lewis and Curry’s all offer installation at the point of sale. I’d recommend you check those prices to see what the going rate for an installation might be.
2. An ‘on the way home’ job or ‘small works’ days
Due to the simple nature of these installations, they’re easy to book in around other jobs.
After the school run has ended might be a perfect time for your customer. It’s also a good time for you to pop in on your way home from other jobs that day.
I often feel that when a customer comments that they “can’t find a good electrician”, it’s more that they mean: “I can’t get an electrician to come out for a small job”. You can take advantage of this type of works and schedule regular ‘small works’ days in.
3. Easy marketing
One of the main ‘hidden’ advantages of fitting smart products is that the brands will essentially do the marketing work for you.
A customer will often come to us knowing exactly what they want or they may have even purchased the product already. You’ll also be able to get your hands on marketing materials from many of these brands.
An example of the effectiveness of brand marketing was seen last year during the Black Friday sales, where we were completely overrun with installation-only enquiries from customers.
4. Up-sell opportunities
While you’re fitting any kind of smart device it’s a great opportunity to ask if your customer needs any more work doing. How about another wireless chime, or a camera for the back of the house?
Most of the smart devices on the market are part of a bigger product range, so it’s easy to offer a useful additional product.
Bear in mind that you’re also now in the customer’s house and can advise them on any other electrical issues they may have.
When did they last have their electrics checked? Do they have working smoke detectors? Do they need any repairs?
5. Your target customers
If you ever talk to a marketing expert about advertising, you’ll quickly come on to the subject of identifying your customer avatar. This is basically the type of person who would represent your ideal client.
If you’re anything like us, then you like to work for families in their 30-60’s, with a high household income, drives a nice car and probably has an Amazon Prime account.
Guess which type of customer is also buying smart home products?
These devices are marketed at the same customers that you like to work for, so when you get a foot in the door by fitting a voice controlled light switch, you’ll have a great chance to become their go-to electrician in the future.
6. Free training
Many of the smart home product manufacturers will offer training on their devices and it is often the case that these training courses have some overlap into other products or the day-to-day running of your business.
Learning about your new smart device will allow you at the same time to learn some additional key skills. One good example is thermostats. Many electricians aren’t familiar with heating systems, so completing a free online course about installing smart thermostats will also improve your skills when working with a Combi Boiler, Y-Plans and S-Plans.
7. Reviews and recommendations
The type of customer that buys a smart home device will have read reviews and done their homework beforehand.
This is an ideal opportunity for you to request a review of your installation work, which you can use on your website. Post a photo of the job on your Facebook page, tag your customer and share their review.
You never know, one small job can lead to many more.
How we make the most of the ‘smart’ opportunity
In our business, Electrical Innovations, we advertise all kinds of smart home works as a main part of our services. We started by fitting products at home, and then progressed to doing the same for our customers.
As a business, we already carried out a lot of boiler installations, so going through the process of becoming a Nest Pro was the obvious next step (Nest was just a thermostat back then). We’ve also progressed into installing professional alarm systems as well and have found a couple of great manufacturers to work with who have provided us with free training.
Not a week goes by without a lead coming in via our Facebook page for a ‘DIY’ product installation. Many of these initial jobs have gone on to become long-term clients that we have returned to many times for various works. All of this generates more reviews for us, which in turn help to bring in even more work.
Visit the Electrical Innovations website by clicking here