Use audio to upsell

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

GLADE HILL, Va.--Connie Higgenbotham, president of Security Services here, decided to expand her repertoire beyond just security systems when she discovered that she was losing business to local AV companies.

“They were saying, ‘ I’ll give you a security system for free if you buy a home automation package,’” Higgenbotham said. “To compete, I had to get into that work.”

She’s now considered a low-voltage contractor, and uses GE Security’s Smart Connection Center, a structured wiring and connectivity solution that manages and distributes broadband, Internet, telephone, cable and Ethernet, and allows the mounting of home security systems, gateways, audio products and home servers in one enclosure. “I do central vac, security, smoke detectors, wiring for TV and computers and now I do intercom. I’m a one-stop-shop,” she said.

She uses GE’s SmartCom for audio, an integrated audio and intercom system that can have up to four sources and be distributed to 16 zones. One of her customers “loves Alabama football … he uses television as a source and on game day, he tunes all room stations to the TV so no matter where he goes he’s not going to miss any Alabama plays.”

Another customer is an opera lover who uses his iPod as his favorite source. “His wife doesn’t like opera too much, so she can turn the source to an FM source or a CD in a different room.”

A standard security job for Higgenbotham is $2,000 to $2,500; with SmartCom, she’s done jobs upwards of $20,000, she said. At ISC East, Mark Barry, GE Security Americas president, called SmartCom a “lifestyle enhancement … one of the differentiators for dealers,” something that’s important in a down economy.

Chris Wysocki, sales manager for Action Integrated in Baltimore, has many years’ experience in security, but his specialty is audio and theater design. He has sold single SmartCom systems for up to $38,000. He said he likes SmartCom because of the sound, and because you can attach your own speakers. “They nailed it,” he said. “Any audiophile will die for this system.”