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Jayaredoubleu

Composer Pro for Home Owners - A path for success

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Hey Forum,

        Has it ever been asked before to have a Composer Pro option for Home Owners?   I know that C4 (and most other professional home automation companies) want to be a dealer-only sales and support model, which I want to start off and say I HIGHLY support! But my question is, why not allow an option for a savvy (and interested) home owner to buy  Composer Pro from a dealer?   

Here are my suggestions for how to make Composer Pro work in a way that offers options to home owners, supports dealers, and Control4:

  1. Charge something like $1000 for the software and require the same class dealers have to go to to demonstrate you know how to use it. 
  2. Require the purchase of Composer Pro to be done through dealers, which allows them to make most of the mark-up
  3. Have dealers add on a mandatory "training time" to the purchase of any Composer Pro software, allowing them to make money and ensure the customers know how to work with the dealers when using it
  4. Control4 support would still primarily be through dealers.  So, if a customer has a problem, their first line of defense is still to go to a dealer.   The only time they could bypass the dealer is if the problem has nothing to do with programming (e.g. troubleshooting a potential firmware problem).  In this case, the dealer has to "approve" the ability for the customer to call C4 support. 
  5. All hardware and install/support still has to go through dealers.   

Here is my value proposition to Dealers and Control4:

  1. Most people still probably wouldn't buy this, so it wouldn't really change much for most. 
  2. Every time Composer Pro would be sold, it would be pure profit for C4 and dealers.   
  3. Dealers wouldn't lose nearly as much time (and money) on troubleshooting systems where a home owners wants to take the initiative themselves.    (I assume most dealers cringe at warranty type stuff or working through software bugs that are not the dealers fault.   I know for myself my dealer spent a lot of time on the phone with C4 over problems that were ultimately bugs that required firmware updates.   Customers shouldn't pay for that, so it sucks for the dealers). 
  4. If a home owner screws up programming, this becomes an additional revenue stream for the dealer!! They would be happy to charge to fix people's systems they screwed up, right? 

How is this not a win/win for everyone???  If Control4 did offer this model, it wouldn't get home owners out of working with dealers -  - it would just allow those for those die-hard enthusiastic home owners to have better control over their system. This is just a thought for consideration, from someone who REALLY likes C4, just wishes they could buy composer Pro. 

P.S. If any dealer out there wants to make me a "part-time" contractor so I can get a copy of the software - I would gladly pay you :)

 

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I don't see it ever happening.

It would be a slap in the face to the dealers and CI channel.

 

Composer HE exists for homeowners and that can customize quite a bit.

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It has been proposed quite a few times, IMHO the biggest impediment to this is that ComposerPro would likely need to be locked down to a project, as Control4 would never allow a non-dealer to access other peoples' projects.

Even at a very high individual sale price, I don't know that Control4 would ever make enough off of the few customers who would want it to even cover the engineering / testing costs.

RyanE

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9 minutes ago, msgreenf said:

It's brought up about every 3 months...

Has anyone brought it up in the same path I just laid out? A path that is still Dealer-centric? 

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Also, Composer HE already does exactly what you outlined. That option already exists.

The only thing Composer Pro can do that HE cannot is add/install the drivers for the hardware, which you outlined should still be done by a dealer.

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1 minute ago, Dunamivora said:

I don't see it ever happening.

It would be a slap in the face to the dealers and CI channel.

 

Composer HE exists for homeowners and that can customize quite a bit.

Help me understand how this is a slap in the face to dealers? 

If a dealer gets to charge for software, charge for hardware, charge for all install time, and still is primary line of defense - what is the downside? 

If you are worried about losing money, then sell it for more than $1000.  Sell it for $3000! 

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I think the main concern from a dealer perspective would be for an individual homeowner to start servicing homes other than their own.

RyanE

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2 minutes ago, Dunamivora said:

Also, Composer HE already does exactly what you outlined. That option already exists.

The only thing Composer Pro can do that HE cannot is add/install the drivers for the hardware, which you outlined should still be done by a dealer.

I own Composer HE - and there are a few other features I can't run in the software.  Most of them have to do with troubleshooting and searching through code.  

I want to reiterate - I really like my dealer too!  I pay a premium each year for a maintenance contract on my system.   They will always be a huge need for me.  

Where I feel really bad for my dealer is the fact that I can't do my own troubleshooting to help them out.

 

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1 minute ago, Jayaredoubleu said:

I own Composer HE - and there are a few other features I can't run in the software.  Most of them have to do with troubleshooting and searching through code.  

I want to reiterate - I really like my dealer too!  I pay a premium each year for a maintenance contract on my system.   They will always be a huge need for me.  

Where I feel really bad for my dealer is the fact that I can't do my own troubleshooting to help them out.

 

Troubleshooting and looking through code?

There really aren't any features in Pro that help with that.

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2 minutes ago, RyanE said:

I think the main concern from a dealer perspective would be for an individual homeowner to start servicing homes other than their own.

RyanE

Thanks for input Ryan and this is a VERY valid point that I didn't consider.

But couldn't that just be a simple option/fix in the software?   Or...couldn't that just be part of the Terms and Conditions of the purchase?   Meaning, if a home owner is ever caught "selling" their services to another person, they lose their software, and their system gets locked down - something extreme that would disincentivize anyone. 

 

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1 minute ago, Dunamivora said:

Troubleshooting and looking through code?

There really aren't any features in Pro that help with that.

I don't have Composer Pro, so I couldn't tell you exactly what the difference is.   But I know my dealer has an ability to see where I wrote code in my system, whereas I do not.   Plus, they have a different ability to capture logs and troubleshoot.   I know this because I have had to have them do it to my system maybe 15 times this year. 

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That is not Composer Pro. That's a program called System Manager (That does only come with Pro), and using a tool like putty to ssh to the primary controller and view the logs in the log directories.

 

The same option as system manager is available if you go to the webpage hosted on your controller. It would be the same password as your project password used to connect with HE.

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14 minutes ago, RyanE said:

It has been proposed quite a few times, IMHO the biggest impediment to this is that ComposerPro would likely need to be locked down to a project, as Control4 would never allow a non-dealer to access other peoples' projects.

Even at a very high individual sale price, I don't know that Control4 would ever make enough off of the few customers who would want it to even cover the engineering / testing costs.

RyanE

If this is true, then why not just make Composer HOME a "PRO Lite", where the only difference is an ability to lock down to a project.    Other than than , they would have full capability on their own system. 

The biggest thing I honestly want more than anything, is an ability to install my own drivers. 

I find drivers ALL the time online that I just want to test out, see if I like them.   Each time right now, I have to call my dealer and have them install it.    

Example:   "I wonder which irrigation system integrates better into C4.  How about I download hydrawise, skydrop, rachio, etc. and poke around to see which is better?"    

 

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1 minute ago, msgreenf said:
17 minutes ago, Jayaredoubleu said:
Has anyone brought it up in the same path I just laid out? A path that is still Dealer-centric? 

Yes. Exact same argument

Wow, if this is true - I am quite impressed.    But also if this were true, I would think there is a huge business case :)

If C4 is worried about engineering costs - I bet they could start a "kickstarter" to pay for it!  Sounds like there is a small cult out there who would pay A LOT for this capability. 

I know I would probably pay a couple thousand

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23 minutes ago, Dunamivora said:

Also, Composer HE already does exactly what you outlined. That option already exists.

The only thing Composer Pro can do that HE cannot is add/install the drivers for the hardware, which you outlined should still be done by a dealer.

Not quite.  You can't make connections or bindings with HE either, which can be very frustrating for the non-dealer "power" user.

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As a side note, I was hoping someone would want to take me up on my offer to be a "part-time" employee or contractor!   *wink wink nudge nudge*

I don't need to be paid at all!  We could work out a deal where I offer to help with programming/installs in some mutually beneficial arrangement.  In return, I get a copy of the software :)

I am not trying to do anything shady here - just set up an arrangement that benefits everyone!

As a fellow controls engineering who works for an industrial automation engineering firm - I know I could be of value!!!

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Support issues:

Most dealers do not make a handsome profit by cleaning up end users messes. The money is made in designing/selling/installing initial systems and added sales during the relationship with the customer.  Running out to fix a mess the home owner made is not a big profit center and depending on the size of the shop can be a burden.   So selling Pro at a 1 time cost to then have to be still be on the hook for support makes no sense.  C4 likely cannot handle a global support desk 24x7 but every end user out there who wants "Pro".  So a lot comes back to the support model.  C4 support isn't even 24x7, but certain dealers do offer extended/weekend support. How would you feel if it was Friday afternoon, you blow up your system but you cannot speak to a c4 tech until Monday morning?  At least now depending on your arrangement you can reach out to your dealer for help.

 

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12 minutes ago, Jayaredoubleu said:

As a side note, I was hoping someone would want to take me up on my offer to be a "part-time" employee or contractor!   *wink wink nudge nudge*

I don't need to be paid at all!  We could work out a deal where I offer to help with programming/installs in some mutually beneficial arrangement.  In return, I get a copy of the software :)

I am not trying to do anything shady here - just set up an arrangement that benefits everyone!

As a fellow controls engineering who works for an industrial automation engineering firm - I know I could be of value!!!

I'd be surprised if anybody took you up on this.

Not only is it a liability for the dealership, but I also have heard rumors that it could also be grounds for Control4 to reprimand or terminate the dealership.

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Personally, the best chance would likely be asking for features to be addes to Composer HE, than asking for Pro.

I'd also say support needs to be DIY as well. I wouldn't want to be forced to support a customer system that gets modified/broken by the customer all the time...

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10 minutes ago, eggzlot said:

Support issues:

Most dealers do not make a handsome profit by cleaning up end users messes. The money is made in designing/selling/installing initial systems and added sales during the relationship with the customer.  Running out to fix a mess the home owner made is not a big profit center and depending on the size of the shop can be a burden.   So selling Pro at a 1 time cost to then have to be still be on the hook for support makes no sense.  C4 likely cannot handle a global support desk 24x7 but every end user out there who wants "Pro".  So a lot comes back to the support model.  C4 support isn't even 24x7, but certain dealers do offer extended/weekend support. How would you feel if it was Friday afternoon, you blow up your system but you cannot speak to a c4 tech until Monday morning?  At least now depending on your arrangement you can reach out to your dealer for help.

 

I appreciate the input, but I actually think you misinterpreted what I was suggesting.   If a dealer sells Composer pro for $1000.  That is PURE profit on the bottom line.  That would equate to many many hours of paying an employee to make up for this.   In addition, how would having a customer pay a dealer to "Fix" problem be a burden on the dealer? Charge them! 

Second: I wasn't proposing C4 change their support model.   They wouldn't support customers, unless it was rare circumstances.   The dealer would be the support - which one again - Charge them!!

Personally, I already do have a service contract with my dealer.  I pay $1600 a year for that!  And if I had composer Pro, I would still be paying for it!  I still need/want them. 

This isn't any different than any other product you buy on the market, including much more complicated products like computers!  I am still even supporting the dealer model allowing everyone to make money off this :)

I know from the dealer I use, I am the ONLY customer who has Composer HE - all their other clients just don't care.   And because of that - they have already had to make special arrangements for me, and I pay for it!

 

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7 minutes ago, Dunamivora said:

Personally, the best chance would likely be asking for features to be addes to Composer HE, than asking for Pro.

I'd also say support needs to be DIY as well. I wouldn't want to be forced to support a customer system that gets modified/broken by the customer all the time...

This probably is a better path to ask for more features on HE, instead of Pro - I could agree to that!

Keep in mind - I am still NOT proposing anything is done for free here.    If you are a dealer and don't want to sell "composer pro" to your clients because you don't want to support them, then maybe they aren't the best clients for you!  And that is perfectly ok.   Or, you can come up with a model that attracts that "DIY" crowd who has the funds to support it.  (myself being an example). 

I would fully expect to pay for my dealers time on anything that needs them!  This is how we do it at my company - I work for an engineering firm.  We have evening rates, weekend rates, and response time rates depending on what the customer wants.   And my company installs multi-million dollar systems for factories.   So, conceptually I don't see why this wouldn't work for home owners? 

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13 minutes ago, Dunamivora said:

I'd be surprised if anybody took you up on this.

Not only is it a liability for the dealership, but I also have heard rumors that it could also be grounds for Control4 to reprimand or terminate the dealership.

Why would it be grounds for termination?

The only difference is instead of paying me cash, they pay me with a program.   I would still be an employee - still do legitimate work!   I just don't want to work 40 hours a week doing this.  I want to work like 5 hours and keep my day job. 

I mean, if someone wants to pay me an hourly rate - I Am ok with that :)

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8 minutes ago, Jayaredoubleu said:

I appreciate the input, but I actually think you misinterpreted what I was suggesting.   If a dealer sells Composer pro for $1000.  That is PURE profit on the bottom line.  That would equate to many many hours of paying an employee to make up for this.   In addition, how would having a customer pay a dealer to "Fix" problem be a burden on the dealer? Charge them! 

Second: I wasn't proposing C4 change their support model.   They wouldn't support customers, unless it was rare circumstances.   The dealer would be the support - which one again - Charge them!!

Personally, I already do have a service contract with my dealer.  I pay $1600 a year for that!  And if I had composer Pro, I would still be paying for it!  I still need/want them. 

This isn't any different than any other product you buy on the market, including much more complicated products like computers!  I am still even supporting the dealer model allowing everyone to make money off this :)

I know from the dealer I use, I am the ONLY customer who has Composer HE - all their other clients just don't care.   And because of that - they have already had to make special arrangements for me, and I pay for it!

 

so a dealer can charge someone $X/hr to sit at a computer and fix programming issues or they can charge $X/hr to go install hardware where they also made $Y profit selling the hardware.  Option 2 is more bang for your buck as you have more profit coming in on the same hourly basis.

$1,000 a year may seem like a lot, but I guess where I live in Northern NJ those rates would be about 8-12 hours of support.  Not a heck of a lot.  After that they have to charge again for hours for support.  Most dealers do not have a help desk waiting on tickets to help with support.  Most are in the field designing/installing new systems.  Just inherently that is where the $$ is at in this industry.  Sales, not support.  

Maybe that means there is an opening for a company to do 100% C4 (and other) programming and no real sales.  But to be a C4 dealer, and get Composer Pro licenses, etc you need sales volumes, a showroom, etc, so that is tough.  Those requirements push sales and support tends to be an afterthought.

I know some dealers are pushing RMR with quarterly/yearly support contracts.  But I would gather most are not at that point yet in their business models.  

I am not against the idea, I am an end user.  But I think C4 has done a fair job with ComposerHE and When/Then to give the customer a lot of options.  In another thread I may be saying how nice the Crestron/Savant remote is compared to the new Neeo remote, but I stick with C4 because of ComposerHE.  If that went away my gear would be up for sale tomorrow.  So I'd welcome more power and control but I know why and I really do not lose sleep over it.  It does not take much for a good remote dealer to plop in a driver then I can program it all I want.

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