Nov. 10, 2022 - JoAnn Arcenal and her team have spent years developing relationships with design/build professionals. Working in tandem with Crestron's dealers and the community of architects, interior designers, and builders, Arcenal's department is focused on acting as a liaison between technology integrators and the people involved in the layout and construction of the modern home. We sat down with Arcenal, Crestron's director of business development, to learn more about the best ways dealers can engage with design/build pros and what's currently top of mind for this group of tradespeople.
CRESTRON: What's the best way to begin your own outreach to the design/build community?
JOANN ARCENAL: These professionals have organizations with chapters all over the country. Take architecture, for example: The AIA (American Institute of Architects) is likely the best known of them, but there are many others. (Here's a list for quick reference.) The same holds true for interior designers, builders, lighting designers, even landscape architects. If a dealer/integrator can align themselves with any of those communities, that's huge.
CRESTRON: What are some things to remember once you've opened that dialog?
ARCENAL: There's something of a bad reputation that lingers from the early days of technology integration — some dealers would pitch huge displays and massive floor-standing speakers that were completely out of balance with a designer or architect's overall aesthetic. When a dealer is partnering with a designer — or vice-versa, for that matter — make sure your design philosophies are aligned. We may not all have the same exact vision, but there has to be mutual respect during that process.
CRESTRON: That's improving, though, right? The understanding that technology will be an integral part of any modern residence?
ARCENAL: It is. There's a growing understanding that we're all part of this. So whether it's your mechanical engineer, your AV guy, your designer, or your architect, we're all part of the design process. When we all realize that there has to be a balance between the design and the technology, that's a win. I think stressing that — especially from the dealer side — goes a long way.
CRESTRON: Taking steps to make the technology less obtrusive is still a big ask, though, I'm guessing.
ARCENAL: Yes, but here's a caveat: We've seen advances in technology that can turn a television into a work of art when it's not in use for movies, shows, or sports — I'm thinking of the work we do with Blackdove. That creates less demand for finding ways to hide a display, for example.
CRESTRON: Internet connectivity has come to be an expectation in the modern home — just like electricity and indoor plumbing. That's got to help move the conversation forward.
ARCENAL: We actually did a lot of internal research on this and found that more and more people are looking for technology as a base package within their space. Additionally, homes sell a lot faster when they're equipped with technology. One stat we uncovered was especially telling: When a buyer is looking at two similar homes, they'll opt for the one with better technology solutions 80% of the time.
CRESTRON: Is there a better awareness of products and services such as those Crestron provides — does this community understand the value of what residential technology integrations can offer?
ARCENAL: Yes, it's improving. We used to get asked these questions all the time: "Well, why should I? Why this solution?" When the client asks me why they should invest in Crestron rather than the DIY products that we're seeing out there, I always tell them, "Well, if you just want to store your clothes, you can get a set of drawers from that build-it-yourself store that sells meatballs." If you want that luxury experience, if you want something that's durable, reliable, and easily upgraded, get a pro involved. It's going to save you many, many headaches.
CRESTRON: There are still misconceptions out there, though, correct?
ARCENAL: The biggest one is a concern from homeowners about being able to master a complicated system. When I show anyone the Crestron Home® app on my phone, however, those issues are immediately resolved. It's incredibly intuitive.
CRESTRON: I've found some homeowners push back on a few specific things — one that comes immediately to mind is the need to dedicate some pricey square footage to rack space. Is that still true?
ARCENAL: It can be, depending on what stage we're in. Obviously, it's less of an issue when we're in early and can make that space allocation. Our dealers are outstanding at finding creative solutions for equipment racks. But part of it is simply a function of educating the client: This gear needs proper ventilation and temperature control, and that will extend its life.
CRESTRON: What technologies are really having an impact with the design/build community?
ARCENAL: The concept of "wellness" is absolutely top of mind, especially post-pandemic. Prior to COVID, everyone knew about human-centric lighting and circadian rhythms. But now, interest in a whole "wellness package" is huge. People are asking about better HVAC, air quality remediation, water filtration, even just a better understanding of how artificial and natural light really come into play in the home. All of these technologies are part of the conversation when we're talking to the design community.
CRESTRON: The pandemic also changed the way people think about open floor plans and the home office, didn't it?
ARCENAL: That's true. There's been a big uptick in demand for dedicated spaces for remote work, e-learning, even gaming. People are outfitting their homes for all manner of unified communications technology, and that's broadened the scope of work on many, many projects.
CRESTRON: Any final thoughts — what's the big takeaway from your perspective?
ARCENAL: Please engage with your business development partners from Crestron on this. We are all really well-versed in this conversation and the language of this design-build community. We're absolutely here to help you get your foot in the door.