Installernet - Integrator Competitor?

I was looking at Swann's website. While they are typically a DIY / big box retailing offering, I saw a promotion / partnership for a Massachusetts company named InstallerNet.

Has anyone heard of them? It seems like they coordinate subcontractors around the country.

This one is new to me. I know of (and used to do work for) a couple of companies like this in the LAN infrastructure business, and I think some may have spread out into other areas. It's been a long time, though, so let me see if I can dig up names and whether they're even in business anymore.

Most of these types sub out small/one man shops to do work, though some also contract larger integrators. The company I used to work for at my first job, for example, only hired larger installers, because the small ones burned them on quality of work too many times.

I just went through the process to buy an installation card.

It is a network of independent subcontractors. You buy an install customized to your requirements:

Essentially, they build a quote for you based on the install information you provide:

  • How big your house is/what type of construction (brick/siding/wood)
  • Where camera locations are/FoV positioning
  • What mounting surfaces are
  • How Much cable you want hidden (!)
  • Where the DVR is to be located/network connected
  • How many Smartphones you need the app installed on

At the end, they are supposed to spit out a cost, but in my case they "Don't have online Pricing posted yet. We will Call." So, I have no idea what the rates look like. I'm sure this varies widely from market to market.

Presuming the customer buys the card/estimate, InstallerNet then essentially holds a reverse auction for the install.

They issue job details that the customer provided to a number of 'pre-screened' and 'local' independent technicians, and whoever bids the least gets the job. InstallerNet keeps the difference.

Brian, nice details! And that goes to show it's hard to transform surveillance installation into an online wizard.

Tech-Army has been around for years.... and they list their '#1 Moneymaking Mission' they send members of their 'army' on as Security Camera installations.

I signed up for 'leads' from these guys yrs ago when I was doing contract support work.

I live in Raleigh and these morons would send me leads from all over the country.... :(

They send you an e-mail 'lead' and then you 'opt in' by replying to get into the 'war' (reverse auction, like Brian mentions).

Note: Tech-Army is part of (online seller). There are similar (but smaller) 'networks' used by most of these types of suppliers.

we have been contacted a few times by this company to install residential surveillance systems... we have never actually done any work for them as their prices they want to pay per job are far to low amd they haven't wanted to negotiate price...

Keefe, do you recall roughly what the prices were? $100 for a job? $1,000? $10,000?

John, below are the specifics of the installation...

4-Camera Q-See system to be installed on his Split level residence, approximately 960 sq. ft. Of the 4 cameras, 3 will be exterior on wood, mounted over 12 feet high, and 1 will be interior on drywall. The customer would like the cables to be completely concealed by blind fishing. He also wants the DVR configured to the internet for remote access. We pay $675.00 on this install. Would you be interested in this? Please note, this customer has neighbors also interested in installation through your company.

This installation is 180 miles round trip from our office...

So let's break that down: $675.00 gross on the job.

Cost breakdown:

180 miles @ $0.565 = $101.70 (Cost not including ~2.5 manhours to drive 180 miles)

This leaves $573.30 /5 = $114.66 worth of labor for each camera and the DVR. (It's not clear if cabling/connectors/power supply is furnished by owner or not, but lets assume everything is.)

  • Cameras/Cabling: It's not a big place (960 ft^2), so lets assume the average concealed cable run is 20'. Lets say it takes an hour and fifteen minutes to run, terminate, and hide each cable run, and another 15 minutes to hang each camera. This equals 6 hours to install cameras.
  • The DVR: assume it's easy to bring the cameras online and program the unit for use: 1 hour. Then it takes another 30 minutes (in this perfect install) to configure the DVR for remote access. Total DVR installation/Configure time: 1.5 hours
  • Cleanup: Every good tech cleans up the mess after themselves (ie: vacuum up drywall dust, wood shavings, caulk the holes, and gather up misc wrapping/trash): 30 minutes
  • Grand Total Labor: 8 hours
  • $573.3 (gross) / 8 = $71.66 hour

On paper, that rate isn't bad. Until you remember you still pay taxes, insurance, and drive time/lunch break labor to your tech(s). And also, no job EVER goes as smoothly as this estimate reflects.

The job description leaves a lot to be desired: ( cable lengths? accessibility to locations? does furnitire need to be moved? where is DVR located? Power outlet locations? Hotspot TV monitor to hang? Touchup painting?...)

If someone can fish and install four cameras in typical construction in an 8 hour day, I'd like them to come do some work for me, please. I used to assume 2-3 hours for a camera install, and that's in commercial construction. I don't think this house will have drop ceilings and wide open drywall walls.

I actually do know of a guy locally that fished 16 runs of siamese coax in a large house in a single day. He is an ex-cable company installer, so he knew a few tricks of the trade that I was unaware of. He works for $15.00/hr cash, but has yet been unreliable getting to the work sites on time. I need someone who is reliable over everything else. If you cannot keep your dates straight or show up on time, I have no need for you.

Brian that is a good cost break down but as you mentioned it also doesn't cover the technician travel time nor does it even cover the tax on the good being installed... in my state the contractor is responsible for the use tax on equipment or materials installed... if InstallerNet had paid sales/use tax to our state we would not have to pay it but they told us they had not...

residential installations where wires need to be fished are always a wildcat especially when no information is provided on the install other than general house dimensions and mounting height... it is a difficult job to accept without having seen the premise first...

Like you, I would turn down that $675 install. At best, I break close to even. At worst, I lose my shirt.

Proof of why a concrete scope of work and onsite job estimate (from a subcontractor you lay eyes one before install day) is good: DirecTv - Album on Imgur