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What dealers and integrators want from tech vendors

Advice to vendors of technology solutions.  From tech integrator Susan Estrada, Happy @Home:

Mark Weiser eloquently stated "The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it."This is where Age Tech needs to head - towards technology as a servant. But, we are definitely not there yet. This is a high-touch market that requires high-quality staff that does honest, careful identification of client needs then installs and supports reliable technologies. I need to be able to pay my staff living wages.

So, let me tell you what I want from vendors to deploy in my market. I want:
1. A clear dealer program with a set of prescribed performance expectations from dealers (i.e. keep the good dealers in and kick out the bad actors.)
2. If the dealer program has a buy-in fee, the ability to return the equipment and get a refund if it doesn't perform as stated in the vendor's literature.
3. A compelling marketing plan and how it can be used to bolster my sales, especially competitive analysis and product positioning.
4. Decent profit margins that will allow my company to pay reasonable salaries in this high-touch business.
5. Referral programs that actually get me new business in addition to my local marketing efforts.
6. A privacy policy that I can share with clients especially for tech that collects sensitive information.
7. A money-back guarantee that I can share with my clients.
8. Options for billing where I can be the main biller to the client for installation and recurring revenue and the vendors just get their cut (versus them paying me.)
9. Reliable equipment that works so I don't have to "roll a truck" more than once per month to any client.
10. Remote troubleshooting per 9.
11. Understanding that CELLULAR coverage is NOT ubiquitous in the US and in hilly territories like San Diego, lots of cellular services do-not-work. Roaming is mandatory in cell-based systems.
12. All Internet-connected technologies must support WIFI.
13. An API so that I can integrate "loved one" databases across services from one screen.
14. A quarterly non-disclosure review of the product pipeline.
15. Good technical support.

We decided to embrace this business segment because we are huge technology fans and realize that many of the technologies we are testing can save lives and help people lead fuller, more connected lives. And, we are excited about the opportunity to provide jobs for talented college graduates who are coming into a terrible job market. But, in the end, this is a business and we need to pay the bills. So, vendors, work with us and we can all be quite successful.

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Thanks for re-posting this Laurie. Integrators are the "evangelists" and real feet on the street in most cases and typically lead the charge autonomously for creating the buzz within the local communities they serve. Having said that - points #3 & #5 duly noted. We seek better marketing mechanisms such as dealer finder searches on the vendor website (minimally), more sales leads from the vendors (ideally), even the vendor hiring territory reps (realistically) who should create roadshows, webinars, etc. while also showing up "in the field" from time to time vs. just exhibiting in a few select trade shows. If all of these efforts were put into place by the vendors it would have a multiplicative effect & would certainly go a long way in helping create greater buzz & help set-up & close sales opportunities for those of us who have chosen to establish businesses built on age tech.

Not all products lend themselves to dealer programs due to their low cost and lack of recurring revenue. I hope dealers keep the best interests of their clients as their first priority instead of only pushing "solutions" that give them big profits. We all have bills to pay - product development requires large initial investment of time and money.

We hear the frustrations of the dealers and the "boots on the ground". Its information like this that is priceless for a person in my position developing new solutions and products to fill the void that we hear about on a daily basis. Your 15 points seem to resonate, and this is not the first time I have seen them. Hang in there, you will be hearing and learning lots more about an alternative that is going to provide dealers with a road map to success. More importantly, it will allow you to assist the elderly in fulfilling an independent life.

Mark Koopmans, CTO
Added Care Services


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