The world of integrated smart home systems is growing rapidly as people discover the modern convenience these installations offer them in their everyday lives. Lee M. Lancon from The Install Spot is both experienced and passionate when it comes to the design of audio/visual solutions for smart home systems, including automation of security alarms and light control.
Lee’s business is on the forefront of this new wave of interest in smart home systems, and he was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his background and expertise.
Lee, what was the primary motivation behind starting The Install Spot?
To be quite honest it was out of necessity. I was working as a manager at a large retail custom chain and my position was eliminated. Owning my own firm had always been a dream of mine but this pushed me in the right direction. With some solid nudges from some loyal clients and the support of my family we took the plunge. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
What is your career background? Were you always in the audio-visual automation design space?
I have always had a passion for audio, so it really feels like this is all I have ever done. It’s really been a part of me as long as I can remember. After leaving the military in the mid 90’s I went to work for Circuit City as a “college” job and stayed in the field ever since. I’ve done large box retail and small high-end custom at a handful of firms over the years. I feel that all of it has led me to this point. It has helped me round out and hone my business skills and improve my talents on the design side as well.
What makes your business unique?
Great question! Most will struggle with this. There are so many integrators in the Dallas/Ft. Worth market and some are very similar. We, however, know exactly what sets us apart. We truly do offer a balance of value and performance.
Every system we design goes through a process of “does this add value to the client” and “is it on par with the expected performance”. These two simple questions will keep systems on track to perform and complete on budget.
This is not to say that we don’t like or complete extravagant projects where money is no object, because we do, but creating that exceptional performance to value ratio is what makes us a market leader.
In your opinion, what are the most popular and in-demand, aspects of smart home system services?
It’s such an amazing time to be in the industry right now with the development of APPs for just about everything. I can say without a doubt the most begged for item in the segment is “ONE APP”. Our clients want all the IOT things yes, but they want one app – one app for all control.
Our recent partnership with Savant Home has provided that for us – we can automate a home with lighting control, shade control, HVAC control, house audio, home theater and even alarm integration. All of it being under one simple Savant App, and our clients love that aspect of the systems we help them install.
What should people know when setting up smart home systems or home theaters?
I have a concept that works really well with most clients and it’s called “don’t worry about the black box scenario”. It sounds really odd, but it makes sense, so let me explain.
When designing a home automation system or a theater there are a ton of black boxes (equipment like receivers, integration modules, baluns and the like). I don’t want our clients to focus on those. I always ask, “What do you envision the room to be like when it’s done?”, or “How will you use the room?”. I tell them to let me worry about all of those black boxes that make the system do what you envision it to do. Ten times out of ten this will give the client their desired results and keeps them from going down the rabbit hole of educating themselves on all the “black boxes”.
This industry changes constantly and it’s a full-time job staying up to date on the latest automation whiz-bang product. I tell them that’s why they have me, and to sit back and enjoy the system.
How do you choose the perfect balance when setting up a home theater?
That’s an easy one. We help the client find that balance. Our theater design process involves quite a bit of work.
It starts with rough sketches and proliferates into mockup renderings. The client always steers the ship while we make sure they are on course. A healthy balance often is dictated by what the client likes. Are they a movie buff, a sports fanatic, a music lover, or all of the above?
Once we have a feel for how the family will use the room (back to that vision we talked about earlier) we start the design process keeping that performance, budget and value at the core of the design. At the end of the day we want you to use the room (a lot) no matter the price point or complexity of the design. We love seeing a family watching movies and sports in a room that was once just their vision that we helped them to realize.
You also offer commercial projects, what kind of solutions do you offer?
We offer full structured wiring, managed network infrastructure, conference room display solutions as well as distributed audio and lighting control. Most of the time our commercial projects are owned by one of our residential clients, so the relationship is already in place making it easy for us. For some clients we provide full and ongoing IT management services.
What advice can you give to individuals or businesses thinking of implementing any audio-visual projects?
The first and foremost is to find an integrator you are comfortable with and that you trust. Come up with a project budget. If you have no idea how much things cost, work with your integrator to devise a budgetary guideline.
I will say without fail that the best designed systems are those where the integrator knows the budget and can be a good steward of your money, allowing you to spend it where it matters most in the system. This is a really fun process of seeing your vision come to life – so enjoy it!
Thank you Lee for your time!
You can follow up with Lee M. Lancon at https://theinstallspot.com