Helping Builders Develop Personalized, Connected Smart Home Strategies

ELAN equips new homes with affordable, cutting-edge technologies to draw buyers

by Joe Lautner

Over half of today’s active homebuyers want to buy a new home, yet only 10 percent of all homes sold each year are new. Why is this?

Buyers expect that they can personalize their new home with lifestyle-enhancing technology, only to find that their choices are limited.

Homebuyers want — and expect — smart home technology to be part of the new home personalization experience. Nortek Security & Control’s “ELAN New Home Program” makes it easy to deliver effective connected smart-home strategies that meet new homebuyers’ expectations, helping to sell more homes.

A few decades ago, the auto-industry identified a similar opportunity; customers were adding aftermarket alarms, sound systems, remote starters and more to their brand-new cars. Today, a technology platform is built into most cars, adding safety, comfort and connected lifestyle elements. As a result, new car sales have skyrocketed.

So how does this example apply to the new home market? Smart home technologies in new homes require multiple partners — builders, technology integrators, and their technology vendors — working together, but a number of issues can get in the way of mutually profitable relationships between them. These hindrances include price, trust, technological savvy, and the lack of significant interaction between the integrator and homeowner.

Nortek Security & Control and its ELAN home automation team realized that making the process easier for all parties is the key to making it more compelling for the homebuyer. Far from a new start-up with a “smart” app, ELAN has been connecting and personalizing home technologies for almost three decades. “For years, the sweet spot for ELAN was in the world of the custom integrator who sold personalized-installed systems to clients in high-end custom-built homes,” according to Bret Jacob, Director of Builder Services at Nortek. While ELAN is certainly not abandoning that segment of the market, the ELAN New Home Program is the result of what Jacob called “a new focus” for the brand — one aimed at addressing the production homebuilder, leveraging the same “personalized home technology” approach that has worked so well in the custom home market.

A key concept at the foundation of the ELAN New Home Program is appropriately designed and marketed standards and upgrades. Every ELAN Smart Home begins with the Smart Home Standard Package, which includes an ELAN controller, a router, a Z-Wave bridge, a smart thermostat, four lighting dimmers, and “a single ELAN app that controls everything — one of the big advantages of a centralized system.” At approximately $2,000, the sticker shock is minimal, and the cost can be easily rolled into the mortgage. If it were simply about a cheaper price, it might be attractive to homebuyers, perhaps even builders, but personalization is what the homebuyers expect.

“Rather than just a good/better/best approach, our approach to the production world is to offer lifestyle packages in which the more you add, the more functionality and personalization you get,” explained Jacob. One example is the Music Everywhere package that adds whole-house audio with in-ceiling speakers and amplification to independently controlled stereo zones. The package, though, goes beyond music. Additional capabilities include the door chime playing through the speakers and the ability to initiate an intercom page from a smartphone that’s either in the home or away. Likewise, there’s a Safe & Sound security package, a Peace of Mind lock control and surveillance package, and a Media Room surround system and smart remote package.

Even these standardized packages are just starting points. “We want to allow people to have the technology discussion at the same time as everything else in the home buying process,” added Jacob. It’s a much better sales strategy than trying to persuade the client to spend money on automation and entertainment technology after they’ve budgeted for everything else.

Of course, there’s nothing new about offering standardized packages. What is unusual is the amount and intensity of the support that ELAN provides to both the integrator and the builder in order to help sell (and up-sell) the packages. Production builders have traditionally been reluctant to work this organically with their local integrator. And few integrators can bring the type of marketing, display, and training assets to the relationship as ELAN can. The support from a large company, such as Nortek Security & Control, also lends credibility to integrators who are looking to expand their business when pitching the idea to production homebuilders.

In the end, the ELAN New Home Program aligns the goals of the builders and technology integrators with what the homebuyers really want — a smart, connected and personalized home. The smart home standards and upgrades, coupled with the marketing tools, training and support, let connected home benefits shine through to homebuyers, which helps builders sell homes faster and with more value, all while keeping the project on schedule.

Joe Lautner is the Vice President – Strategic Solutions for Nortek Security & Control. For more information, visit www.nortekcontrol.com

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