JC Gonzalez and Ross Theriault say the conversations and idea sharing they had at the event inspired them to launch a new branch of their company.
As the integration industry continues to evolve, many companies look for ways to grow their business. Sometimes, that means putting aside uncertainty and extending into unfamiliar areas. While it can be risky, the rewards also can make it worth the effort.
For HomePro president JC Gonzalez and VP of sales Ross Theriault, their networking with fellow CE Pro guests at the 2016 Total Tech Summit spurred them into taking such a leap.
“One of the biggest and most impactful things that we encounter at the Summit is sharing ideas and thoughts and best business practices and also talking about new ways to generate revenue,” says Gonzalez. “Specifically, we had some conversations with people about high voltage and getting into the electrical play. Now, we’ve launched a full-on electrical business with HomePro, and a large part of it was sharing some ideas and thoughts with other dealers who have done it in the past and have been successful.”
In the months following the event, Gonzalez and Theriault worked to build their business model the way they wanted it, leaning on the experiences of their new contacts from the Summit to help guide them.
Gonzalez says launching the high voltage division began as a defensive move for the company, but now they are realizing there are some huge opportunities there. Since starting it up in late spring, HomePro already has wired 20 houses, and Gonzalez expects the high voltage department to become as big as the company’s low voltage in five to seven years.
The HomePro team’s networking at the Summit also led to back-and-forth dialogue with other integrators they use to benefit each other. For instance, they met Xssentials area president Brad Theiss there and formed an excellent relationship, even flying out to the company’s headquarters in Denver, Colo. to meet with him there and exchange ideas.
“It’s very much a collaborative effort with like-minded companies throughout the country, like with Xssentials,” says Gonzalez. “They bring a certain expertise that they share with us, and we can share some of our successes with them to help them in some of the builder business and how we go about getting some of those relationships and maintaining them.”
The Summit networking also is helping HomePro take a look at how recurring revenue can be feasible in a service model. It’s an area the entire industry is trying to figure out, and by meeting with other business representatives, they can exchange ideas with the hopes of being able to come up with a model that makes sense.
“We love the recurring revenue on the security side,” says Theriault. “Its models have already been proven. The problems for the AV service model is that stuff is increasingly harder to work with and harder to function. With an alarm system, you may have one or two instances a month. But, if you think about your daily tech needs, I have daily frustrations and tech problems, and I live in this industry. What do you charge somebody, or what is someone willing to pay? And, if it is only $40 a month, how do you make sure it’s actually profitable? That’s one of the struggles we have.”
For Theriault and Gonzalez, the structure of the Total Tech Summit encourages the interactions that could help solve those types of issues that an office meeting may not be able to.
“One of the things I really like about the AE Ventures model is that it forces you to sit down with people that you normally wouldn’t sit with and you realize how relevant their products might be or how much information they can give you,” Theriault says. “Meeting with people who are explaining not only what’s going on now, but really what the path forward is, is something you wouldn’t capture in a normal rep conversation in your office.”