South Florida based SRD corporation has served the needs of luxury homebuyers for almost three decades. Currently averaging about 10 luxury homes per year, SRD is not shy about technology in these $6-20 million homes. Experience has lead owners Scott and Steve Dingle to review processes and operations methodically with an eye on the future.
SRD’s Technology offers have evolved over the years since they started adding individual parts such as security, audio, lighting and later, some wi-fi. As time progressed and more tech became available, it became clear that in order to deliver high-satisfaction to their customers, a fully integrated system was necessary. “A turning point for me was when I built my own house about 15 years ago, I ended up putting in a complete Crestron package that tied it all together” says Scott, “that really gave me insight into how nice the user experience was and I felt like that was something I wanted to offer in our homes.”
SRD continues to research and test new products for reliability, intuitive use, and enhanced total home integration experiences that surprise and delight their customers. Their spec homes are fully integrated with Crestron controls, lighting, robust and seamless wi-fi inside and outside, Security cameras, and a gate-controlled driveway with intercom communications. “You have to start with the experience” says Scott, who “wows” buyers when they discover the many layers of technology that integrates smoothly into the home. “When you buy a home, you can see the floor plan, finishes, and furniture…but when they experience the tech, it becomes kind of a hidden jewel.” For SRD the key was a great partnership with their tech partner, Bravas who worked with them to develop systems that are not only user-friendly, but that are service and maintenance friendly, too.
So how do builders and tech partners develop a truly integrated and seamless tech environment that will surprise and delight the homebuyer?
Use Reliable Products:
Bravas supports tried and true tested products that integrate well together. “We’re not making product changes by category from one project to another, but when new things become available, entry level product we are willing to support, we will offer it as an option,” says Bravas General Manager, Jason Roberts who develops good, better, best product platform options. “Checking in with the builder to be sure their customers are satisfied, and they are not getting call backs is an important step in the partnership.”
Have a Solid Customer Hand-Off:
Homeowners not only need the product to work reliably but they have to understand how to make the product work well for them. New buyers who have just purchased a large home and are dealing with moving, may be overwhelmed with learning a whole system. To reduce stress and ensure buyers are getting the full advantage of tech, Bravas works to set up post-closing appointments to ensure a solid hand-off by taking a “crawl, walk, run” approach:
- Knowing the basics: Homeowners are given an orientation of the homes tech upon move-in with the things they need to know such as how to turn on lights, control shades, arm the security system, etc.
- Understanding all the features. A check back appointment is made in approximately 2 weeks. This is similar to the orientation but allows the homeowners time to form questions or make small custom adjustments.
- Customization and Advanced Features. The next appointment is made between 60-90 days after they have lived in the home. This is where real customization comes in where preferences are well known. This is also where training on deeper advanced features can take place.
Develop a Proactive Maintenance Plan:
Bravas stands by proactive service as opposed to reactive service arrangements, meaning they want to be the ones who finds a problem before the homeowner knows about it. They offer service plans to run diagnostics and it covers in home service, semi-annual equipment maintenance including dusting equipment, checking batteries, updating firmware, as well as answering questions. “We don’t want to just install a bunch of equipment and wave goodbye,” says Roberts. “we’re very interested in relationships. It’s much easier to keep a good customer than to find a new one.”
Foster Open Vendor-Builder Communication:
Tech vendors should work closely with builders to understand their unique market needs and to trouble shoot what’s not working. Bravas continues to ask their builders for feedback detailing what is going right and what they can do better. They want to build an open foundation of trust with a focus on what is important to the builder to make them successful.
SRD and Bravas has built a partnership that supports each other’s businesses and has developed a friendship as well. “We have a family component to our culture inside our company and we extend that to our customers,” says Roberts. They are a model for how strong partnerships between builders and vendors can reap great rewards for themselves and for the home buyers.