Integrator saves money on service calls and generates sustainable RMR, demonstrating that systems benefit from service-based networking monitoring and management through Ihiji Invision

“Sometimes a service call doesn’t mean rolling a truck—it means jumping on a plane,” says Ron Wanless, President and founder of Technology Design Associates, a northwest home technology integration firm based in Bend, Oregon, with four locations in Oregon and Washington state.

Technology Design Associates serves customers across 10 western states, as far south as Southern California and as far north as Alaska, which means service calls aren’t always as simple as driving across town. To reach one customer in Delta Junction, Alaska, for instance, a technician would have to fly 1,678 miles and then drive an hour-and-a-half to the client’s home.
But even reaching customers in the 48 contiguous United States can be a costly proposition. “We have clients with multiple homes in different regions, and we service all of them,” says Wanless, citing one customer with homes in Oregon, Washington, and Southern California as an example.

Before implementing the Ihiji Invision remote network monitoring and management solution, when that customer’s Apple TV in their Oregon home kept locking up, Technology Design Associates sent service personnel to reboot the unit at least once a week. “The Apple TV was situated in a rack and the customer wasn’t comfortable reaching into the rack to find the power outlet and reboot the box,” says Wanless, describing a common problem. Customers are often too scared of the technology to attempt simple fixes on their own, or complex systems make it hard to reach the necessary components to troubleshoot or fix common, repetitive problems.

“Ihiji Invision makes it easy for the home technologist to reboot the TV remotely in seconds, so the homeowner never misses a minute of Dancing with the Stars,” says Wanless. “We were thankful we signed on with Ihiji before we installed the systems in that particular client’s Santa Barbara home. That home is 1,000 miles away from our office and, without Ihiji Invision, I’d have to find and pay a third-party company to go to their house and re-boot the Apple TV for me.”

The Integrator’s Triple Crown: Cost Savings, Customer Service, and Recurring Monthly Revenue

Ihiji Invision saves Technology Design Associates thousands on labor hours and transportation costs, while helping the company provide a higher level of customer service. It also helps the firm generate recurring monthly revenue through service contracts. Signing up for a minimum one-year service contract is mandatory; Wanless says he has not yet had a client discontinue the service contract after that first year. “We’ve had clients switch plans, but we haven’t had anybody tell us, ‘No.’ They see the value in it.”

On very rare occasions when a new customer declines the Ihiji Invision network appliance or remote monitoring service, Technology Design Associates requires them to sign a contract stating they chose to opt out and that they agree to be billed for any future service calls. Only a few customers in the past two years of the more than half who were presented the option opted out of a service contract. “After seeing what a year’s worth of service calls can cost, our customers are happy to be on a service plan,” says Wanless.

When it first rolled out its service program, Technology Design Associates offered three tiers of service, with the lowest plan being a “monitoring-only” agreement. Today, the company offers two tiers of service—regular and priority service. Monitoring-only service quickly turned into costly after-hours service for the home technology firm in order to keep customers happy. “Monitoring-only doesn’t make a lot of sense—for us or our customers,” says Wanless. With the expectation that when Technology Design Associates finds a problem, the company will also fix it, technology monitoring can quickly turn into either free labor or unhappy customers—a lose-lose situation—if it’s not backed by a monetized annual service contract to fix problems.

Today with approximately 100 Ihiji Invision appliances active in the field, each with anywhere from five to 150 devices connected, Technology Design Associates resolves 85 to 90 percent of their customers’ problems remotely without rolling a truck. To effectively and efficiently handle network-related issues, Technology Design Associates has one employee dedicated to proactive service who keeps track of Ihiji Invision device notifications each day, identifying and resolving network-related problems remotely, typically before the client even realizes there’s an issue.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with the Ihiji Invision platform, and we’ve got it working well for us,” says Wanless. A Control4 Authorized Pinnacle dealer, Technology Design Associates often adds Control4 Zigbee devices into the Ihiji Invision system. Homes under the Technology Design Associates service plan may have as few as 5 or as many as 150 devices that are actively monitored by Invision. By combining Ihiji Invision with SnapAV WattBox power products, the Invision solution can also monitor and manage a home’s power system.

Ihiji Invision for Every Smart Home

While several of the homes boast large, fully integrated home automation systems, monitoring and support is not just for the wealthiest of homeowners. The median price of a Technology Design Associates home automation project rests at around $30,000, which typically includes whole home distributed audio and basic automation.

Technology Design Associates has also paired with several production home builders across the western states, installing low-cost integrated home systems which the homeowner can then upgrade once they move in. “We include Ihiji Invision when we upgrade the homebuyer to a mid-level system,” says Wanless, demonstrating that nearly anyone with home automation can benefit from networking monitoring and management through Ihiji Invision.

Likewise, most home technology firms, regardless of the price of the systems they install, can benefit from a service-based business model. “Everybody’s moving toward the service business, which is great because that’s the way our industry is going,” says Wanless, noting that Ihiji Invision offers the service capabilities Technology Design Associates needs to be successful. “It saves us a ton of money on service while enabling us to keep our customers happy.”
Wanless is equally pleased with the stellar service Ihiji offers to its dealers. “I’ve enjoyed the professionalism and the customer service Ihiji provides,” he says. “The company is very customer service oriented. The tech support team is very good at making sure if we have any problems, those problems get taken care of right away.”

Likewise, Technology Design Associates is customer-centric, who reminds us their team resolves 85 to 90 percent of their customers’ problems remotely without rolling a truck. “Ihiji absolutely saves us a ton of money on service while enabling us to keep our customers happy,” concludes Wanless.

Why This Is Important:

Technology Design Associates uses Ihiji Invision to monitor and manage their residential customers’ technology systems across the western United States and well into the northern provinces, from Southern California to Alaska. Since implementing Ihiji, Technology Design Associates resolves 85 to 90 percent of their customers’ problems remotely without rolling a truck.

“Custom integration is quickly becoming a service-oriented industry,” says Technology Design Associates President and founder Ron Wanless. “Ihiji Invision enables us to provide a higher level of service to our clients to meet their expectations while generating recurring monthly revenue through service contracts.”

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