Winning Against Dirt Cheap DIY Systems

Never, ever discount the value of your labor and expertise in an attempt to compete against dirt cheap DIY systems. I have declined to even bid many small jobs because the customer was price shopping me against Costco systems. I do that in cases where they seem competent enough to handle a basic installation and keeping costs down is a critical factor for them. I am friendly and helpful with them, I give them an honest impression of what they can realisitcally expect from the system (including telling them it will meet their needs if that is the case for what they are trying to accomplish) and wish them well. I also offer a friendly invitation for them to give us a call if they need assistance with anything, or if they decide they want it professionally installed, or at least the looks of the installation cleaned up a little. I have had customers buy a $600-700 4 camera Costco system, and then pay me $1000 to install it professionally. I warrant my work, but not the gear, and Lorex is on the hook for the technical support, not me. Pretty hard for me to lose in that deal, and guess who they call if the system isn't cutting it for them and they want to upgrade hardware? With dirt cheap HD systems hitting the market now, there will be more times I will be honestly telling people that system will probably meet their needs. That's just a changing industry, and instead of sweating it, we can find the ways in which it can benefit us, such as on the service side.

The truth is, this is much less about shrinking sales and installation opportunities for us than it is about a VASTLY expanding low-end video surveillance market place. How many of the people buying a $500 DIY surveillance system were going to buy your $5000 professionally installed system anyway, if the cheap option wasn't there? A few, yes. And for every potential REAL lost sale (not just a new entrant into the market because prices are so cheap), there will be another new potential customer created for the professional installers of the world. Why? Because as video surveillance around the home becomes more ubiquitous, more people will want it and be willing to pay for a quality job who didn't even have it on their radar 2-5 years ago. It is becoming a commodity, and there will always be a significant number of people who are not DIYers.

Consider this: If this is a death knell for professional surveillance installers selling small systems profitably, then aren't Home Depot and Lowe's the death knell for... plumbers... electricians... carpenters... landscapers... house cleaners... painters... lighting desgners... ? After all, within 5 miles of most of us there is a big box store that will not only sell you everything you need to do all those jobs cheaply, they will even sell you the books on how to do it AND give you a free hands-on class to show you how its done. So in what year do any of you project plumbers will become extinct? Or have to resort to working for free in order to "compete" with Home Depot? Electricians? Landscapers? ANY trade?

You have a vast amount of expertise the customer doesn't have. Some will pay you for that expertise, others will DIY it. So what? Does Jiffy Lube cry about having to compete with those damn auto parts stores that sell people oil and filters direct so they can change it themselves? Or Midas , about brake parts? I sincerely doubt it. Recognize your worth, and charge for it.

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