Are you at the end of your rope?

By: Lisa Marie Koebcke

When you sell a system, do you provide clients with 24-7 access to you and your team? How long are you on the hook for one sale? If the end product a client receives is a working home automation system, when is your job “done”?

These are questions that plague integrators and in essence hold them hostage to clients’ systems for which they should no longer be held responsible.

Here are a few tips that you can do to help protect yourself from any unrealistic expectations:

  1. Set your expectations ahead of time: Just like computers and cell phones go out of date, so does the software, hardware (i.e., component video to HDMI), and programming used in systems. Let the client know what to expect in terms of hardware upgrades, firmware updates, and software updates. The better a system is maintained, the better it runs – even if that means a fee to keep the system in top shape is required. NOTE: The best clients understand that if they want you to be around long enough to service them, then your time must be billable.

  2. Clearly present your warranty: It is an industry standard that integrators provide a minimum of a one-year warranty to clients.

  • Does your warranty include specifics as to a start and end date? Is this conveyed to the client consistently?
  • Do you have a monthly service plan in place to offer them help beyond the warranty that sets both them and you up for success?
  • Does your warranty include exceptions for service during the first 90 days? For example, during the first 90 days, service and drive time are free, but after 90 days drive time is billed at a set rate.
  • Does your client know your service fees after their warranty ends?
  1. Setting the understanding: We must not only integrate with gear we design but also gear we do not (i.e., DirecTV, Cox, internet providers, and more). Does your client (who is entering a contract with you) know that you do not manufacture any of the gear you are providing or any of the gear they are providing? Does your client understand that you are the team responsible for making sure it works together? And if something fails, do they know it is out of your control? Make sure to communicate that you will always provide stellar service, and sometimes it will take time to find issues with hardware and firmware. Educate your client to know that items such as Blue Bolt and VPNs are a must to speed up repair, reboot, and resolve firmware issues.

What do you do to protect you and your team from unrealistic expectations? Share it on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear!

Thanks for reading!