Sight & Sound Reveals Tips for a Partnership Made in the Shade.

The building sector and the smart home industry have long been poised to be fast friends. Yet, professionals from these two sectors can often be at a loss for what working together looks like, especially with the fast-weaving fabrics of technology and décor converging in the connected home. Hidden technology and increasing automation in the home are blurring lines between responsibilities, and when left unchecked, the uncertainty could be costing both groups business.  

According to research by Interpret, 41 percent of US adults want smart home tech in their next home, and they will pay more to have it pre-installed for a move-in ready house. The building community is ready to deliver on these consumer expectations, and integrators are hungry to capitalize on these trends to add to their project pipeline and ultimately their bottom line. The time for partnerships is now, and the process begins with understanding where the professions intersect to deliver the best possible customer experiences.  

With nearly 30 years of experience partnering with builders, the team from Sight & Sound offers some tips and tricks that other integrators should utilize as they begin establishing these much-coveted relationships. 

The showroom experience can give homeowners an idea of how they want to prioritize technology in their new homes.  

Partner Wisely 

Kris Kaymanesh, CEO of Sight & Sound shares that working with builders has been a key part of the integration business from the company’s early days. Having kept up with the evolving market demands, Sight & Sound prioritizes its relationships with builders and excels in a massive spread of installation projects to support them. The company’s curated home technology portfolio allows it to deliver exceptional additions to custom and production build projects in Northern Virginia and the Washington D.C. metro market. Over the years, Kris has learned that finding the right companies to partner with is the key to success. 

“We only develop relationships with builders that understand how important it is for our team to interact directly with clients. We often start with having potential builder partners out to our showroom, which provides a full view of the lifestyle benefits technology brings. After that visit we rarely have a builder object to us being able to establish a relationship with clients – they recognize that we can offer better solutions and that ultimately leads to better client satisfaction.” 
Kris voices that being a part of the client’s journey from the beginning of the build is an essential step to creating a truly effective collaboration. Many builders may be looking for integration companies to just pull wire for their new builds with the “bare bones” technology they have already specified for the home, while others might be looking for an expert-guided scope of recommendations and solutions for the space. An effective partnership means the builder and integrator are clear from the onset on how the two companies will work together.  

Make it an Experience  

It’s easy to get caught up on individual products within a project, especially because homeowners typically have a clear idea of which products, they would like in their home, but not necessarily how to tie those products into a full ecosystem. Many homeowners exist in a consumer-facing technology bubble where they are aware of big consumer brands, however, they also want to know what is worth their time and money; They want to know if they can access the technologies from their phone.  

These conversations are an easy trap to fall into and can put a damper on the fully connected home experience, but focusing on the experience offered by technology can help.  

Picking the right partner not only applies to the builders but also to technology. Sight & Sound has been part of the Hunter Douglas custom integrator program since it first began – and has recently added a sales and design specialist to their team to help homeowners find that perfect blend of technology within their home design. 

By putting the technology in context within their showroom experience, homeowners can see first-hand how connected technology and design offer a full lifestyle experience.  
“We often use our wall of Hunter Douglas shades as a primer to get homeowners thinking about the overall experience. The idea is you’re not selling just one piece – you show how all these pieces tie together seamlessly with the lighting, with the automation system. When you can help show an experience created by technology, that really helps it all connect for a homebuyer. The likelihood that they will want to expand their project after seeing it all in action is high – meaning your order will grow.” 

There is no one-size-fits-all for design technology, so showrooms can be a great way for clients to see different options. 

Demonstrate the Value You Deliver  

After seeing how technology can be implemented into their homes, clients often have a better vision for how they want to prioritize technology within their budget. That could mean starting with a base-level system but making sure that wire is pulled throughout the house to add technology in the future.  
The team at Sight & Sound works closely with clients on their specific technology, budgetary and lifestyle needs – and in some cases homeowners can even opt to finance the cost of their technology. 

“Each builder handles the addition of technology differently, and sometimes it depends on what companies the builder already has established relationships with. But on Sight & Sound’s end, we’ve been able to expand access to different products. For example, we’ve used Hunter Douglas shades with all the builders we have worked with, and windows are a great place to start since so many new builds have shading options on their radar.” 

Connected technology and quality design can create a full immersive experience for homeowners. 

Be Dedicated to the Process 

One of the keys to establishing trust in your builder relationships lies in your commitment to keeping up with the project. A key concern for any builder is adding days to the project, so if you can demonstrate that your processes and procedures are streamlined, your company will stand out. Sight & Sound has implemented a detailed and customized project management software that helps them track their projects and provides an easy user interface for homeowners to add technology to their home.  

“At any given time, Sight & Sound could have over 100 projects tracking in different stages across multiple builders and communities. If a homeowner has added shades to their project, for example, we can track across to see whether the home has been wired for the shades, and it will alert us when it is time to order the shades so we can work with customers on selecting their style and fabrics in a timely manner,” says Kaymanesh. 

Kris also reveals that success depends on dedication to the process remaining the same, and the ability to scale and accommodate the different sizes and requests of the project. His biggest recommendation? Meet builders where they are and be the supportive and reliable partner they need.  
“We’ve worked with builders at every level of the market from high-end custom luxury homes, to track homes and even a large-scale 55+ community. When your company has established the right processes, it becomes much easier to flex into different types of builds. While it’s certainly not a one size fits all solution our dedication to tracking every part of the project is what has given us a reputation as a good partner to builders,” concludes Kaymanesh.