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Automation Unplugged

Automation Unplugged is a Facebook Live show recorded weekly with our host Ron Callis, Owner and CEO of the digital marketing agency, One Firefly. In each Automation Unplugged episode, Ron speaks with leading industry personalities and technology professionals to discuss all things business development, technology trends, and more. These interviews are designed to help our clients and members of the custom integration industry keep up-to-date with the latest news as well as learn from experts in the field.

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Home Automation Podcast Episode #115: An Industry Q&A With Henry Clifford

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Henry Clifford, Co-Founder of Parasol and President of Livewire, shares his strategies for virtual communication and sales as well as Parasol's methods for team training across many vendors.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #115: An Industry Q&A With Henry Clifford

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Henry Clifford. Recorded live on Friday, May 1st at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Henry Clifford

Returning guest, Henry, started Virginia based integration firm, Livewire, in 2001 after identifying the need for simple home technology in Central Virginia. solutions provider in his market.

Under his leadership, Livewire has acquired 5 competitors since 2011 and is now the largest home technology integrator in Central Virginia. Livewire also made the Inc 500 out  5,000 list in 2013 and 2014 along with the CE Pro100 and RVA 25 lists in 2014.

With 250 dealers under Parasol, Henry and his co-founders, Greg Simmons of Eagle Sentry and Ted Bremekamp of ETC, provide 24/7 remote support for home technology integrators and their clients.

Interview Recap

  • Changes Henry has made within Livewire due to COVID-19 regulations- from virtual calls to pivoting communication strategies
  • Henry’s approach to prioritizing internal communication and putting his team and client safety first
  • Tools Henry uses to gain prospects and sell from home, such as Vidyard email integration
  • Parasol’s “For Integrators, by Integrators” approach
  • How Parasol works to keep their keeps their team trained across many vendors

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #114: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Rob Hopper

Due to streaming issues during the live recording, we did have to abruptly end the show around the 45-minute mark. We did our best to make this a fluid reading experience from beginning to end. We apologize for any inconvenience and hope you enjoy the show.

Transcript:


Ron:  Hello, everybody! Welcome to another episode of Automation Unplugged. Today is Friday, May 1st. Yes, we finally got through that month of April and hopefully life's getting a little bit better for you out there. Today, we are going to be interviewing the one and only Henry Clifford, owner of Livewire, an integration firm out of Richmond, Virginia. He is also one of the co-founders of Parasol. We have finally gotten through another month of quarantine and I can tell you life here personally for us, maybe you all are experiencing this, your weeks are flying by. Is it Monday is it Sunday? It's kind of hard to tell the difference sometimes. I am happy to say that we've been getting some really positive feedback from you folks watching live and listening to the podcast. The show has been really seeing extraordinary week over week growth in terms of downloads for the podcast. So I'm actually going to share with you real quick. If you have not already, go to your favorite podcast platform and subscribe. A lot of our ongoing consumption is actually happening in the podcast format. Without further ado, let me go ahead and bring in our guest Henry, from both Parasol and Livewire. Henry, how are you sir?

Henry: Great Ron. Thanks for having me on the show.

Ron:  You are one of the few guests that are in fact a returning guest. And I don't know if you recall the date but I had you on here almost exactly two years ago on episode 40.

Henry: Time flies. I feel like when you're on a second time, is that kind of like SNL where you start to get a recurring character or something?

Ron:  Exactly. Well we're gonna run through our SNL skits a little bit later in the show. But yeah, exactly. It's a thing and we're still here which is maybe a surprise to some. Certainly a surprise to me. But we're still doing this. Who is that beautiful angel I hear in the background?

Henry: Actually the beautiful angel you hear is my 13-year-old son, William who's rocking it out. My oldest is my 13-year-old, Will. They're doing their vocal lessons right now in the house so it's kind of fun because earlier Quinn was singing. Will's in seventh grade so he's in that weird point where his voice is changing.

Ron:  He can still hit those high notes until he can't.

Henry: He can, yeah.

Ron:  Now I'm curious, when you say a music lesson, is this part of homeschooling? Is this part of the school that he goes to or is this tied to a church or where are the music lessons coming in?

Henry: Well, my wife and I both like to sing and we met singing at an a cappella group in college, so our kids like to sing. We found this teacher who was available. So its nothing to do with school, just thought it would be a fun thing to do. They're both supposed to be in a play this Spring, then the play was canceled. So it's totally voluntary but this guy was available over again, virtual. Virtual music lessons, new for the Coronavirus. It's just worked out.

Ron:  That is cool. We do some extracurricular classes with my son. My son's 11. I know I took some heat because it was a recent show where I was talking about my son Max and I forgot how old he was. And so now I'm telling, he's eleven. I know how old my son is. I know the year he was born. There's no confusion but yeah. He's been doing this whole virtual thing. How have you and your family been adapting to quarantine life? What's been going on there?

Henry: It's interesting. And our first start by saying, I know there's a lot of people out there. Everybody's experiencing different levels of pain or discomfort and all sorts of different scenarios. For us, I feel like we're doing okay. I feel like as humans we are very adaptable. Kids are very adaptable. For them, they don't really understand what was because their rearview mirror only goes back a few years so I think a lot of it's just our own drama as adults and our own adaptability to change. I feel like I'm sure you can really relate Ron, as an entrepreneur. You sort of change who rides shotgun every day of the week. It's just something else to adapt to. But that said, the kids seem to be doing okay. My mother in law lives with us, she helps with the kids and that's going great. My wife's doing okay. She's working remotely. We're spending more time together as a family. While I don't mean to sound sort of unfeeling about the folks who are not having a good go of it. But I think that Clifford's are doing OK.

Ron:  How many little ones do you have at home?

Henry: It feels like more but there's three. A 13-year-old boy and then two girls, 11 and 6. You can tell when they haven't had their daily dose of exercise because they start spinning up a little bit.

Ron:  Start bouncing off walls?

Henry: Oh yeah and I've got these on my door. I've got these sort of pasted messages from days prior where there was some really urgent thing they needed from me in the middle of a maybe an interview thinking Dad can I use the scooter?

Ron:  I really need to know Dad right now.

Henry: Can I play in traffic right now, dad? They asked me because I'm the weak link, right? I said yes.

Ron:  Mom has already said no three times.

Henry: Yeah, I say yes to nothing. It's always ask your mom.

Ron:  Ask your mom. That's funny. Now I see you there in your home office. How's the home office life for you? How are you digging it? Is that normal for you? Were you doing home offices before or were you mostly in the Livewire office or what was your normal before and what is it now?

Henry: I spent so many years in a home office, almost ashamed of my home office because people wouldn't take me seriously because they said oh you're self-employed like you have cancer and so I quested for years and years to have this office building. Half the office building where there's an office over there. As a result, I haven't worked out of this office in years but it's sort of like going home. It's macaroni and cheese it's very comfortable. Except I have a building over there where the AC and the electricity and things are running. It's OK and thanks to all the technology, I sit down here and login and it looks the same as it did when I'm across town at my office. It's indistinguishable.

Ron:  I want to talk. You have two different hats. Well, you have a lot more than two. But you have two hats and that is the Livewire hat and you have the Parasol hat and so I want to talk about both sides of the business. Let's do Livewire first. What are you seeing out there? Right so there's integrators watching and listening and there are varying levels of challenges around the country. Some markets are wide open and they've never been busier. Others are on full lockdown. They've furloughed their entire teams and they don't know when the end is. They don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. What is your reality right now at Livewire there and you're in Richmond Virginia?

Henry: Yeah. We have been classified as an essential business mainly because we do a lot of life safety. Security and those sorts of things. And then we have a commercial side where we do a lot of small office technology. And so because of this remote work and life safety thrust in our organization, that side of the business has actually grown. We've done things like added virtual consultations and virtual service calls to our website so that somebody can click and just schedule right there. And those are services that we hadn't offered.

Ron:  If I show your website now, will you be able to navigate me there?

Henry: Yeah, absolutely.

Ron:  Hopefully it's up and running. I didn't tell you that in advance.

Henry: But let's hope so or there's going to be some explaining. Yeah. You click, I think it's Book Appointment there at the top. You'll see we've got our COVID 19 statement about all sorts of things so yeah. We had this little page done where you can pick your little service here and it pulls up the calendar and we had a booking calendar like this before but we just weren't leading with virtual or touch-free consultation. It's just an example of things that we've done to pivot quickly that don't really cost us anything but they did say to our customers that hey we're here and not only we're here but we're here where you want to be met. These are simple things that we've done that we've tried to implement there.

Others have been saying your customers hey if you don't want us in your house we're not going to be in your house. If you want us in your house it's great. We're going to wear masks and we're going to wear gloves and we're going to do the things that we're supposed to do to social distance. Saying to our employees, look we care about you, we care about your families. If you don't want to go on a job site, don't go on a job site. If you've been exposed to somebody, you need to go into quarantine and just letting them know. I've heard these interviews in the last few days where it's almost like The Jungle, that Upton Sinclair book about the meatpacking plants in Chicago. You hear these poor people and they're working at the Tyson plant or whatever plant. They'll say we don't feel like they care about us, they just want to make money.

I feel like for guys like me and other entrepreneurs out there, the worst thing we ever want to think that our employees are saying about us is that we're not putting them first. I really take that seriously. We've had a bunch of these all-hands get-togethers online but I don't think there's such a thing as communicating too much. It seems like no matter how much you communicate you can always be communicating more and there's always these vacuums of information. And it was just the nature of you know human nature. But we've had a few scares where employees have said so-and-so met a guy and met a guy who knew a guy who knew how to say the word Corona. Right, so that's led to these scares where we were sort of stress testing our own policies. It gets pretty real pretty fast when you hear that one of your folks was exposed to somebody who may have had the Coronavirus. We've had a few scares and knock on wood and knock on everything. It's a virus.

Ron:  Nobody sick on your team so far?

Henry: Yeah. But I don't want to jinx it and then we've also had customer scenarios where there may have been somebody in the house who had the virus. I think we were called into one job site where we were told well they're quarantined on the second floor. You guys can work on the first floor and our Operations Manager was like no thank you. And I think the justification was well the other guys are. Well OK. Nice. We're taking a very humanistic approach where even if it's an inconvenience for us, even if it means we're not making money. I mean that's not what's important. It's protecting the lives and the health of our families, whether it's employees, whether it's customers, whatever. The karmic energy of doing things any differently to me is just abhorrent.

Ron:  What is the situation in Virginia? I'm from Virginia. I'm from Newport News. That's where I was born and raised. My family lives there, my mom and dad and brother and sister live up in Winchester Virginia. What is the state of COVID in Virginia? I've admittedly on every podcast I tell, I don't watch the news anymore. I'm just focusing on what's right in front of me. What is going on there?

Henry: Well, I feel like the behaviors that we're seeing here seem definitely like they're oriented around keeping things where they are which they seem to be in a good place meaning there are only a couple thousand cases in the whole state. And it's a pretty big state. I'd say where we see it now is continuing, it's not spiking but I mean it doesn't take much to spike. I'm looking at the top 15 it looks like, oh yeah. There are 17000 cases I think there are a thousand cases yesterday and it looks like there's been now 500 deaths or something. We're not really one of the biggies. But it doesn't take much. I'd say that's probably the biggest danger.

One of the analogies I could use would be, I like to fly little airplanes and one of the things my flight instructor said is the thing that kills pilots is complacency. This sort of idea that that hey I've got this. And so a lot of the deaths in general aviation you actually will see they're not guys like me who only have a couple of hundred hours. It's pilots who have maybe a couple of thousand hours who have stopped kind of being sort of vigilant. That's what I worry about a little bit is we as humans, it's not in our nature to stay sort of on high alert for these sort of long periods of time where everything's important all the time. Constant vigilance for months. I think we're going to see a little bit of peaking and troughing just because of human nature.

"We want to say, home networks should be in demand right now. We want to say home entertainment should be in demand right now."

Ron:  I am on social media channels and I see people talking about look our state hasn't had any deaths or hasn't had many deaths, see it was all made up. And it's like what they're not getting is there aren't too many deaths because people have been taking extra measures to distance and to quell it. It's like you're doomed if you do and you're doomed if you don't. It is definitely a curious time for humanity on planet Earth. What do you see happening for your business? What are you seeing right now? What is the landscape? May 1st, 2020. What are you seeing in terms of inquiries around the biz dev business development side of the equation? And is it flat? Is it down? And what type of inquiries are you getting? Is it like we want to say, home networks should be in demand right now. We want to say home entertainment should be in demand right now. Is that what you're seeing?

"We're seeing our outside business uptick a great bit. outdoor TV, outdoor living, outdoor sound. We do outdoor lighting. All those businesses are up."

Henry: Yes. We're seeing our outside business uptick a great bit. Outdoor TV, outdoor living, outdoor sound. We do outdoor lighting. All those businesses are up. The services businesses that we have whether it's security monitoring. As an example, folks may want or are interested in hardening their physical security because of the home fortress concept where they might want to check up. I just had a conversation with a guy the other day who has a bunch of properties with us and he wanted to not only upgrade his security systems , but upgrade the monitoring. But also add the 24/7 remote support piece which we offer as a Parasol dealer. By the way, this was his idea not ours.

Ron:  He reached out to you to have this conversation?

Henry: He said I'm ready. I get it. Let's do that and make sense. I don't want you guys in my place. I want it to be done remotely. That's just that's anecdotal but it's pretty that's a pretty typical sort of interaction. And so a lot of it is the customer having a chance to marinate a little bit on some of the messaging and then draw on their own conclusions and then they're reaching out. The outbound is something we're careful about because obviously calling somebody up and saying hey it's Henry.

Ron:  Does your network suck?

Henry: Hey I know you're just I know you're thinking about food clothing and shelter right now but how about a big TV. Right?

Ron:  That's not what's working for you?

Henry: You know we workshopped it. I don't know. It didn't work out. With our sales team, we're definitely all about this messaging of hey we're here etc. We've been using Vidyard which is this service where you can create a video message, drop it in the e-mail and say it's person to person. With the whole vibe around what it is, I forget what it is, 60-70 percent of communication is nonverbal.

"It's over 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. Oh yeah. Facial reactions and body language."

Ron:  Yeah. It's over 90 percent of communication is nonverbal. Oh yeah. Facial reactions and body language.

Henry: Yeah. And so for us, we're thinking OK I don't want to just necessarily cold call somebody out like Hey how's it going. I mean people hate that stuff. Right? For us we've been creating these messages. I sent one the other day to a specifier. Yeah. Hello Mrs. Smith.

Ron:  You recorded the video? Looked into the computer, talked to the person and then that gets sent in the e-mail.

Henry: And it's custom and the open rates are insane. Everybody opens the thing and you could see how much of it they actually viewed. And so you can kind of go.

Ron:  Now you've really struck my curiosity. So this is Vidyard?

Henry: Vidyard. V-I-D-Y-A-R-D. Vidyard is so cool because nobody defaults to prospecting necessarily right? So for us, yeah there are legit reasons to prospect but there are also other ways to do it, ways not to do it. With Vidyard, it's kind of cool because the email doesn't just get deleted because it's this personal message and little tricks or something like I could write for example, at the beginning of the video, I could do this where it says your name. You're going to open that video and I see car dealers doing this stuff.

Ron:  This sounds like a ninja trick man. This is really powerful.

Henry: I don't know I stole it from Marcus Sheridan who is somebody I really think very highly of. He wrote this sort of they ask, you answer book and talks about writing content online to answer customer questions and he didn't want to. He did a very similar webinar to what you did about a month ago where he's talking about same kind of thing. Hey, what do we do now? Social distancing. And so he talks about a smile. Sit up straight. Use tools like Vidyard. Yeah. Don't face into a light source, just back.

Ron:  Home office 101. Selling from home 101.

Henry: It's just basic things. So the attrition or the churn on our services businesses is pretty much nonexistent right now. Nobody's canceling anything.

Ron:  Are you seeing an uptick in clients now ready to sign up for that service plan that had been on the sideline?

Henry: Yeah. So that scenario just came the other day. The guy greenlit seven subscriptions in one little interaction. We sent out at the beginning of the Coronavirus deal like a month and a half ago, another e-mail to our whole customer base. Hey, we're here. There's never been a better time to think about 24/7 remote support. Click here to sign up here's a coupon. And we're giving it away for 90 days. So that led to a huge swath of subscribers and so then we take those lessons inside of Livewire. Anything that works in the test kitchen and then I go to my partners, Greg and Ted at Parasol and share those findings with them, and then we're then able to communicate out to our two hundred. I think we're at 250 dealers or something right now. 250 other integrators around the planet. Which is kind of cool and we can share with them hey, here's what just worked inside our business which is the same business that you guys are running? And so we can just share that story.

Ron:  For those listening that don't know Parasol, they've heard of it. They've heard the buzz. They don't know what it is. Give me a nickel description of the company. What is Parasol? It's the shirt you're wearing. You guys sell t-shirts apparently.

Henry: We are. It's a nice cotton-poly blend.

Ron:  They could e-mail you and get their own shirt.

Henry: Absolutely. Yeah. Necessity is the mother of invention. For many years, we at Livewire struggled with delivering support to our customers. We started a long time ago putting in Ihiji which is a remote support platform which was later acquired by Control4. We were installing their appliances in the home so we could after we left, remotely troubleshoot and fix the customer 's system and they would sign up for a subscription and we were supposed to monitor that system for them 24/7 365 and remotely notify them if there was an issue. Sounds great. Delivering on that promise is really really tough when you're just one integration business. I'd say it's actually impossible.

Ron:  A lot of the weight in that model, was it on the integrator to follow the process perfectly in order for the customer to get that outcome?

Henry: Yeah. And keep in mind the integrator at that point is me. It's Livewire. I'd say this went on for a few years where I'd say we were guilty of selling something we couldn't actually deliver. And what I saw was we could sell it.

Ron:  The customers wanted the promise.

Henry: Customers wanted the promise. I also knew that as an integrator I hated getting text messages from angry customers at dinnertime. I didn't like being bolted to my angry customer support messages. It's so stressful. And so this all led to this continuing. Can we do it? How do we do it? How do we pay somebody to actually do this? What's the subscriber count we need to in order to staff this and do this in-house? So really a lot of this came to a head where I ran into Greg Simmons with Eagle Century and Ted Broomenkamp with ETC in West Palm. These are very impressive CE Pro 100 integrator folks. We know each other because we're all members of Pro Source. We've known each other for years and I think it was the CE Pro summit in 2017, 2016 maybe. And for some, the timing around that moment that was the remote support world was getting ready to break open. One Vision had debuted the prior year and Joey and I've known each other for a long time and in fact, we sat down at breakfast he was getting ready to launch and I had shown him a concept that I had to o and they were the same idea. We've kept tab. Yeah, we just kept in touch on that. And so he had launched and Greg and Ted and I got together and said we really should monitor each other's customers and maybe that could be a way of piloting this concept. By doing that we then started to learn a lot about what worked and what didn't.

Henry: Well what were some of the things that didn't work well to begin with? We had to stand up a separate network operation center two of them actually. One in Richmond one in Vegas. And the concept was very simple if we had a new customer we would give them their own 800 number that they could call text email chat 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. The real trick was what would happen when it wasn't our own employees when it wasn't Livewire's own employees answering the phone. The second that flipped because integrators are very territorial over their own customers. And you go over every one of us we go well with our customers. They're different. And they have these needs and you guys just don't understand, you're not going to be able to handle it. So this is how I was thinking about Eagle Century and ETC and they were thinking the same thing as we were doing this and it was great because we've been eating our own dog food the whole time and going through the pain. The pain is as you all know Ron, where there's pain there's a business opportunity.

I think up front, we learned very quickly that our customers really aren't as different as we think they are, that everybody's got the same challenges. Really it became about, we really needed to get an industry standardization method going. And this is where my partner Ted comes into play right. He writes the first industry standardized system installation blueprint out there. And has Livewire, Eagle Century and ETC follow that. So all our systems are installed the same way, labeled the same way. And then this is flexible enough to support different brands etc but that enables us then to speak a common language when we're talking about these systems. And it also enforces good behaviors in the security world. You'd never send in a monitoring agreement that just says outlet 1 outlet 2 outlet 3. But yet in the AV world, we can get away with sometimes bad behavior around system labeling. And so Ted creates the industry's first system standardization installation blueprint. That we learn very quickly. We needed that.

Ron:  I'm going to admit I'm guilty. In my closet over here is my network and I had some friends from the industry help me spec it out and I've got a watt box in there from SNAP AV and I've got the dashboard on my computer. What do you think all the outlets are labeled? Outlet 1, outlet 2, it's completely worthless. Cause I haven't labeled the actual pieces. I keep promising myself I'm going to do it one weekend.

Henry: That's the beautiful thing about where we ended up because we could say to a potential Parasol dealer because they know this. You say to them, your installers I'm sure are doing an amazing job at labeling all your systems perfectly. You trust that or you can verify that by commissioning that system with Parasol and our guy at Parasol. They will go what the hell's outlet 1? And so they're not leaving the job until it's labeled properly. So an integrator owner is thinking this is the best thing since sliced bread because it's enforcing good behavior.

Ron:  Is that thing you're describing right now. So logically I fully get it. Are you talking about the early years you would do this? Or you do this now there's some sort of onboarding or discovery process where the documentation is vetted against reality on the job site?

Henry: We're doing this today. We started doing it and it's just gotten better where obviously the commissioning was what it took it took a long time. But now as it keeps going along it just gets faster and faster. And so yeah we still do it today where there's the installer saying hey we're ready to bring this system online. And then our folks at Parasol are saying ok, let's see, let's check it out. And so it's a really clean handoff and I know for a fact because I like what that one of the groups that I'm involved in with CEDIA. CEDIA group's program we all sit around and talk about our companies. Well, I talk to enough integrators where I know that this is a struggle.

Ron:  I'm gonna call myself out right now here Henry. So Chris just threw a comment up he said show us Ron. So I told you that I didn't label it. There it is. So this is my house. That's my rack over there. And sadly this is entirely inadequate for anyone to service or if something's locked up. I have this cool piece of gear that I can't use because I don't know what anything is. You probably run into this quite a bit. Do you not? I mean as you're working with integrators around the country.

"The biggest challenge we find for our dealers isn't necessarily that the customer or the homeowner does or doesn't want it. It's very often the biggest challenge is internal. It's just this mental leap or gap between the way things have always been done."

Henry: Well we do immediately when an integrator will then say well this is great. Then they might even look at it as just a compliance piece where they're just going to turn on the Parasol subscription screen as a means of internal compliance. Never mind the recurring revenue or the peace of mind portion of it. Again because we're eating our own dog food because it makes sense within Livewire. We knew that there had to be an audience for that. And to some extent too, within Pro Source for example, our buddies, the CI Power Group, etc had been making noises about this for a long time. And occasionally somebody would speak up and say well I don't know maybe I'll do something. Yeah well if you do, I'll buy from you. So it was just one of those scenarios where we got enough momentum spun up to where we did it and started doing it but monitor ing each other's customers, to begin with, was how we sort of began it. And then we started, we opened the net to our own folks or our own Pro Source buying group folks. And then we throw in the net wider and the whole vibe of the entire time has been hey tell you what like come on board and help us make it better. So we had a Dealer Advisory Council we have a Parasol certified dealer program we have what's called the Pioneer program where we asked the organization or a dealer that has a champion, somebody besides the owner in the company leading the charge and a great training program. Again, the biggest challenge we find for our dealers isn't necessarily that the customer or the homeowner does or doesn't want it. It's very often the biggest challenge is internal. It's just this mental sort of leap or gap between the way things have always been done. I think if you've been giving away support and your customers have gotten used to getting it for free a moment where you sort of start to change those behaviors or try to change them becomes tough. Again with doing that, I took our most challenging customer. And if you're tuning in as an integrator I want you to picture your highest drama customer. The customer is going to text you at 3:00 a.m. and ask you to bring them a pink camel and put it in their living room because this stuff doesn't work and they paid all this money. I took that customer for us and had them subscribe to Parasol.

Ron:  To try to break it, to see if you could break your delivery.

Henry:  I had them do it using the page on our website that we have set up to do this, which thanks to you guys. We have a partnership with your company for you to help our dealers get the setup, so thanks to One Firefly for that. I figured if this guy would go through our website and put in his credit card info and sign up. If he would do it then anybody would do it. The second I saw him do that. I knew that this was going to be all right. This is going to go great. And so I think the other fun part about it is our partnerships. I come at it from the perspective of you know a lot of the backoff. Ted's an engineer. Ted built the blueprint. He runs the day to day, is Director of Operations. Greg is an amazing communicator, evangelist, super passionate about the concept, comes at this from his background with Eagle Century having built 16,000 security accounts. Pretty cool group.

Ron:  There's a question here from Brian Mosley. He says is there any limitation on support for control systems?

Henry: No. We support Crestron dealers, Savant dealers, Elan dealers, Control4 dealers. It's fairly agnostic.

Ron:  I'm just curious as a business owner, how have you built a team able to service all of those brands? Like how do you do that? How are you keeping everyone up to speed? Are you hiring them with that skill set are you running them through ongoing trainings? What are you doing to keep them sharp across all of this? I mean because your quote-unquote potentially you're going experience everything on the support side.

Henry: With our hiring and this is probably something where we could have gone a different route but we just didn't. Our whole model is for integrators by integrators. As a result, the folks who are answering the phone who are handling these support tickets are integrators. Some of them are hired from Livewire. Some were hired from Eagle Century. Some were hired from Sierra. We had people out Definitive I think we hired somebody out of Audio Vision. Right? And so those are just our W2 folks. And then we have our certified dealer program which is exciting because you know down the road you imagine this model where you're a dealer and one second your receiving help from the home office. The next second. What do you do? Your techs who have the ability to login for a second. What are they going to do? They're certified. They're going to help defray those support inquiries so it's a community. I see some of my brothers and sisters here on your chat stream. Yeah. Justin with Twilight, he's a dealer.

Ron:  Signed our first free Parasol account this week. Good job Justin.

Henry: For us, we didn't want to lose sight of the culture or the community that allowed this to happen really. Which was the Pro Source community probably? And I'm not saying this is because maybe it's Pro Source or not but it's this close-knit group that came about because we've all gone to these events for a lot of years together and built trust and shared ideas. And I mean Ron, you've been in the room a lot, teaching us along the way so that the notion of the community allowed this to happen. We want to continue to extend that.

Ron:  You just broke news recently. I want to say in the last week or two that you partnered or there was a partnership formed between you and Bravas. Can you fill in what was that vetting process like? Was that a big win? I've seen it in the press.

Henry: We are very excited about the Bravas announcement. And again, why does something like that come about? Bravas.

SHOW NOTES:

Henry, started Virginia based integration firm, Livewire, in 2001 after identifying the need for simple home technology in Central Virginia. solutions provider in his market. Henry also leads Parasol with his two co-founders, providing 24/7 remote support for home technology integrators and their clients for over 250 dealers.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing within the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

To keep up with Henry and his team at Livewire, visit their website at LivewireIntegration or follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

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