Fifty years after the five-season run of the TV show “Get Smart,” even folks who never saw a single episode of the original spy-spoof series will very likely recognize the silly image of detective Maxwell Smart making a call on his shoe phone. Back in the 1960s, when open-to-the-public telecom technology was not far enough along to support a real shoe phone, it was always good for a laugh.
Today, when producing a workable model of a shoe phone is eminently doable, it would not seem as funny. However, “Get Smart” fans may get a chuckle out of knowing that the actual shoe-phone gadget used on the set is currently on display at the CIA Museum in Langley, Va., which is definitely not open to the public!
“Get Smart” and Maxwell Smart’s gadgetry lead us right into two great metaphors for smart lighting and salesmanship.
First, recalling how viewers repeatedly returned to their TV sets for each weekly episode, the easiest place to sell anything is where you have sold something before. In this case, the best prospects for an upgrade to a smarter lighting system may very well be those customers who relied on your company—or another electrical contractor—for a lighting retrofit years ago. At the very least, they understand the inherent benefits of having an improved lighting system. Even more important, repeat customers know they can trust the quality of service your company provides.
Second, to help their decision-making process toward a lighting system upgrade, you may have more success if you can show off some shiny new gadgets in your toolkit. We have a few suggestions for some tools that will help your customers appreciate that revisiting their lighting system will not be like watching a rerun.
We’ll start with the software that you propose to use to price, plan and produce the final results. For the latest on this, we turned to Jeff Seifert, managing member and COO of StreamLinx, Naperville, Ill. The company’s SnapCount software is dedicated specifically to contractors engaged in lighting retrofit activities. When we asked about the software’s new and enhanced capabilities that electrical contractors could feature in their presentations to prospective customers—especially repeat customers—he offered an encouraging perspective.
“The lighting retrofit opportunity in the United States is enormous! Well-equipped contractors are tapping into impressive revenue growth by offering their customers a level of speed, precision and savings that their competitors can’t touch. Instead of just swapping new fixtures for old ones, they illustrate the advantages of advanced lighting controls,” Seifert said. “As well, now you can pair an electric vehicle charging solution with your lighting retrofit proposal to help your client prepare for the energy transition ahead. It’s all about becoming a trusted partner to your client. SnapCount’s platform and leading industry support provides an example of how you can achieve that.”
The second new tool, an exoskeleton, is particularly applicable to overhead lighting installations. You don’t have to be an electrician to have some degree of understanding of the benefit of having this kind of physical assistance. If you are an electrician, you’ll understand it completely.
Once your crew has arrived at a customer’s facility, one of the first questions from the staff will be, “How long is this going to take?” The contribution that exoskeleton equipment can make to achieving a schedule deadline is priceless. Customers will quickly understand its importance to being able to return their operations to normal.
The third new “tool” to display in promoting a smarter solution is, collectively, the new lighting products themselves. They are coming our way at a furious pace. We consulted Jeff Corbett, technical account manager at Pittsburgh-based Dagostino Electronic Services Inc. He foresees how power over ethernet (PoE) systems, for example, will go well beyond simply lighting indoor spaces.
“Having a PoE data network drive low-voltage LEDs instantly expands the possibilities of lighting beyond illumination,” Corbett said. “Sensory data that leverages the lighting network can reveal smart-building insights that increase efficiency and simplify operations.”
Despite advancements in lighting technology, graphic designers continue to mimic the shape of a traditional light bulb to symbolize brilliant ideas. Ironically, it just isn’t that “smart” anymore.