Champions of Change: Harrison Home Systems

Boosting Business with Better Employee Benefits

Home sales are on the rebound, and the building business is bustling again. That sigh of relief is also creating a challenge for integrators.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 12.25.07 PM Retaining experienced employees has become even more crucial with the invention of the smart home and the growth of remote home control. Kassa Harrison and her husband, George, run their 12-year-old A/V company together.
Kassa focuses on marketing, finances and human resources. George is the head of sales and manages home automation projects such as security systems, lighting control, motorized shades, and A/V installations.
“We are designing, installing and servicing. We are heavily focused on remote management these days,” says George Harrison. “We have been implementing the SnapAV OvrC remote management new product line, which has really had a big impact on our business.”
Harrison Home Systems includes service and maintenance of these systems in the original sale price for one year. After that, the company offers extended warranty packages and one- and two-year service contracts.

Installing and maintaining these complicated devices takes competent employees with a sufficient background and training in home technology.

“We have a niche industry, and there are a lot of IT people in our market who would have to be retrained to service and program the systems that we sell,” says Kassa.

“It is much more cost-effective for us to keep the employees we have on staff and really promote a culture where people stay for a long time.”

Kassa and George agree that’s tough to do in the competitive integration market, especially since other companies are courting their talented nine-member team.
The Harrisons turned to the CE Pro Summit to get some tips on how to retain their ›team members. They’ve since implemented strategies they learned at the Fast Managed Growth (sponsored by ConnectWise) and the Rapid Onboarding, Employee Retention and Hiring (sponsored by Dish) sessions.
At the Summit, the Harrisons learned that employees respond better when you reward them on a more regular basis, instead of just a bonus tied to the end-of-year holidays.
Harrison Home Systems now offers its employees long-term disability, accident and critical illness insurance, and quarterly bonuses. Accommodations accounts also allow employees to purchase company products at a lower cost for their personal use, and they can pay in installments using a regular deduction from their paychecks.
“We’ve had nearly a hundred percent participation,” says Kassa. “It’s gone over very well. We actually had an employee thank us for thinking of them and for protecting all of us against anything that might happen.”
The business partnerships built at the Summit are also helping George and Kassa as they initiate a new benefits program. They were inspired by Shawn Hansson of Logic Integration and Dan Fulmer of FulTec.
“This is a particularly relevant thing about CE Pro I was impressed with,” says George. “Even some of the companies in our own market that were there in that dynamic situation seemed very much willing to share their experience, even though they were one of our competitors.”
And the Harrisons are hopeful those relationships and the ongoing bonds built will help them compete in their home base.
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“I think just focusing on employee retention as a key part of our business moving forward, it’s really going to be something that we have to work at in the long-term and something I plan to improve on an annual basis,” says Kassa.

Plans are in the works to launch teambuilding events such as a company-wide volunteer effort with the Home Builders Foundation, a summer social event and weekly beer Fridays.
Kassa has also just started a monthly technical training program on topics such as remote VPN troubleshooting, new time tracking software, and Savant and Lutron manufacturers training.
She also promoted an assistant general manager internally, who among other things, will act as a change agent when it comes to employee relationships and development.

Follow the journey of five decision makers from the leading custom and commercial integration companies.

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