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Smart Homes


together, and don’t be fooled by the word ‘enabled’ – you want an official ‘works with’ sticker as a minimum.


What you should be asking Dealing with installers who don’t know what they want for customers who aren’t sure either, could be heavy going, so I asked advice from someone who has faced this terror head-on and survived – Julian Barkes of BEMCO in London. Here’s what he said: “Wholesalers need to check that the installer fully understands what they are trying to achieve (for their customer) and find out what options have already been considered. We have invested a lot of time and effort in training our staff so that we have good understanding of all the different options available in the market. Finding the right smart solution that is not over-specced and not over priced is the key.” Again, think back to the early days of low-


energy lamp dimming and all the returns, do you really want to risk that with devices that cost more and may have a bespoke 1st fix that needs


ripping out if the client decides it’s not good enough? It’s worth checking if things have been thought through.


Assuming the product supplied was a fit and the client is happy, what then: “Selling and installing smart home systems requires the installer to have a wider skills set than pulling and terminating cables. Identify their skills gaps and taking training seriously is vital. How competent are they with IP networking, security, heating systems and are they up to speed with new GDPR regulations and their potential liability if there is a data privacy breach on a system they have installed.” With the general data protection regulations (GDPR) now in force, anyone accessing the home network needs to be aware of its requirements, smart home installers need to familiarise themselves with it to avoid penalties for things as simple as keeping a record of a WiFi password. “With regard to opportunities, have they thought about ongoing service support, smart home installs aren’t ‘fit and forget‘.”


Matching a manufacturer to an installer capable of managing its after-care will mean repeat business and referrals, a mis-match could be a lot of grief. BEMCO has created a dedicated suite for product training at its Wandsworth HQ which showcases a variety of KNX products. KNX is the world’s only open standard for building control and automation. It is aimed at the deluxe, wired, fully featured end of the market, which Julian has identified as a niche area that BEMCO can do well in. The smart home market has segmented as it


has grown and niches are appearing and disappearing so rapidly that investment in training might seem like too much of a gamble. So how can a wholesaler manage access into this lucrative but volatile market?


Trade shows Smart home shows aren’t just for millionaires anymore. Essential Install Live has made a good start in bringing this technology through to mainstream but others will be joining them, you can be sure.


Wholesalers need to check that the installer fully understands what they are trying to achieve (for their customer) and find out what options


have already been considered. We have invested a lot of time and effort in training our staff so that we have good understanding of all the different


options available in the market. Finding the right smart solution that is not over-specced and not over priced is the key.


●Continued over www.ewnews.co.uk September 2018 electrical wholesaler | 45


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