FAQ - Integration Firms

How does HTA Certification benefit my business?

If your company meets the HTA's stringent certification criteria, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Reputation: a consumer-facing standard proving you are amongst the top 10% of home technology integrators in terms of technical ability, customer service & company reputation.
  • Marketing: direct outreach on your behalf to architects, builders, and interior designers.
  • Validation: the HTA's Budget Calculator prequalifies clients.
  • Validation: clients researching your company will see HTA as validation of your company's competence. An instant credibility booster.
  • Education: the HTA website educates homeowners and industry trade partners on what they need to know to find and hire the best integration firms.
  • Education: the HTA has relationships with builder & designer associations and educates them on what you do and how to hire the best integrators.
  • Education: the HTA created the 'Project Technology Assessment' intake form that is shared with builder and designer associations, designed to get integrators hired early in their process.
  • Community & Growth: attend exclusive HTA members-only sales, strategy, and growth webinars. See the 2022 roster of HTA webinars here
  • Sales: the distinction of a published 3rd party company certification that sets your firm apart from less-qualified companies. HTA Certification changes the conversation from price to competence.
  • Sales: HTA Certification lends credibility & trust in your company's abilities in a similar way that 5-star safety ratings validate an automobile's safety, how GIA certification establishes the quality of the best diamonds, and how Michelin stars recognize the best restaurants.
  • Sales: the HTA Budget Calculator (it may be embedded in your website) educates, prequalifies, increases project sizes, increases the number of subsystems sold, and causes consumers to shop around less.
  • Sales: a legitimate tool (your HTA Certification) to have non-certified firms disqualified from the bidding process.
  • Sales: gives your architect, builder, and designer partners a defensible reason to say No to accepting bids from non-certified firms. In surveys, 9 out of 10 trade partners would rather hire an HTA Certified integrator over a non-certified firm.
  • Sales: leads from the HTA Certified Installer finder service. It's embedded on the NKBA's website, too.
  • Sales & Marketing: we encourage the use, sharing, and republishing of the HTA's educational articles on your blog and in your proposals, designed to answer client questions and pushback.
  • Pride: HTA Certification instills a sense of pride in the entire staff. Prove to your staff that your company really is amongst the best in the business.

Does all of the above work? Yes, read testimonials by clicking here and watch this video clip:

Why should my company be HTA Certified?

Assuming your company meets the Home Technology Association's certification requirements, let James Harris from TV's "Million Dollar Listing" give you a client's perspective by watching the video here:

Doesn't the HTA need to be a household name for the certification to have value?

No. Much like the GIA certification is to diamonds, 5-star safety ratings are to vehicles, ASE certification is to mechanics, and being a CPA is to accountants, a brief explanation that an industry standard based on excellence exists is what builds trust with consumers and trade partners. A short visit to the HTA website will help any consumer understand that HTA Certification is the Gold Standard for integration companies. See the video below that helps explain the state of the CI industry to your clients and trade partners:

I’m so busy I’m turning away clients, how is HTA Certification going to benefit me?

Most good integration firms have experienced a boom in the past few years and are busier than ever, and as such, are not able to meet local demand. Smart integrators use two HTA tools to work more efficiently: 1 - the HTA budget calculator and 2 – the HTA elevator pitch. Here are the benefits:

  1. the budget calculator prequalifies clients. Does the prospective client have a realistic budget range and are they willing to hire a true professional to install their technology systems? Don’t spend valuable time creating detailed proposals for clients with unrealistic budget expectations.
  2. the HTA elevator pitch shows that their firm has been independently vetted and is qualified as a true professional home technology integration firm, giving the prospective client peace of mind that they are making the right decision by hiring this firm. Clients fear making a wrong on their choice of integrator. HTA gives them additional peace of mind, especially when they learn that only 10% of the industry meet’s the HTA’s certification requirements.

Is there any proof that HTA Certification helps integrators?

Yes! Read testimonials by clicking here. Clients are hiring HTA Certified firms due to their certification status. Budgets are rising once clients learn real installed costs from the HTA Technology Budget Calculator. Architects, builders, and interior designers respect the HTA standard. In surveys, 9 out of 10 trade partners would rather hire an HTA Certified integrator over a non-certified firm.

What the HTA Is and Is Not...

The HTA is Not:

  • A buying group
  • A competitor to any other association (CEDIA, CTA, etc.)
  • A dealer listing service (Angie's List, HomeAdvisor, etc.)

The HTA is:

  • The creator of the first and only neutral and independent standard of excellence for residential technology integrators
  • The creator of the industry's first and most widely used consumer-facing technology budget estimator
  • A consumer-facing association that helps homeowners and design / build professionals find the highest-quality integration firms
  • Lets clients, architects, builders, and interior designers know your company is amongst a small group of elite integration firms
  • Gives clients, architects, builders, and interior designers a legitimate reason to exclude non-certified companies
  • The creator of the "Best in the U.S." awards program that awards residential technology integrators on merit
  • A bridge connecting design and build trade associations with the residential technology integration community

Homeowners don't care about certifications

False. Give your prospective client the HTA elevator pitch, share the HTA Certification Defined page, and you will find that they are more comfortable hiring an HTA Certified firm over a non-vetted firm. Sharing that you are an HTA Certified firm is an easy way to eliminate subpar integrators from consideration, as clients fear making a poor decision on such a vital aspect to the proper functioning of their home.

Every one of us as consumers look to quality standards to help us make informed decisions. GIA certified diamonds are more valuable than non-certified diamonds, Michelin star restaurants are unquestionably considered amongst the best restaurants, vehicles rated with 5-stars by the NHTSA are unquestionably regarded as safe, and HTA Certified dealers are worth more than companies who only claim, though cannot prove, their quality.

Specifiers don't care about certifications

False. In surveys, 9 out of 10 trade partners would rather hire an HTA Certified integrator over a non-certified firm. If an architect, builder, or designer hasn't heard of the HTA Certified standard yet, give them the HTA elevator pitch, and then ask them if they see value in it. Share the HTA Certification Defined page and you will find that they wish this standard was created decades ago. Some specifiers have even required that integrators must be HTA Certified to submit proposals, and this was specified in the RFP!

Sharing that you are an HTA Certified firm is an easy way to eliminate subpar integrators from the project, and it gives your trade partners an easily defensible reason to strongly recommend your company against unqualified competitors.

Consumers and professionals look to quality standards to help them make informed decisions. GIA certified diamonds are more valuable than non-certified diamonds, Michelin star restaurants are unquestionably considered amongst the best restaurants, vehicles rated with 5-stars by the NHTSA are unquestionably regarded as safe, and HTA Certified dealers are worth more than companies who only claim, though cannot prove, their quality.

Why is the HTA's Budget Estimator such a big deal?

1 - Fact. Integrators routinely "sticker shock" prospective clients as most homeowners are unaware of realistic installed cost technology budgets. When a prospective client perceives the integrator may be overcharging, they will often shop around. As every good integrator knows, there are plenty of less-qualified companies that are ready to undercut you with inferior products and terrible installation and service quality. 

2 - Fact. Asking a prospective client "What's your budget?" does not go over well. See point #1 above. Since your clients likely have no idea of what their budget should be, you put them at a disadvantage, and making the uncomfortable is not a good way to start a new relationship. Tell your prospective client to get an idea of realistic installed cost ranges with the HTA's budget estimator (which may be embedded in your website). There are only 17 basic questions and it will take them just a few minutes to complete. Viola! The technology budget question just happened for you, with your client's input. 

3 - Result. Smart integrators that lead with the HTA's budget calculator prequalify clients quickly. Once clients understand what budget ranges are, they are less likely to shop around. This increases their sales closing ratio and makes the sales and design departments operate more efficiently.

How is the HTA different than CEDIA?

The Home Technology Association and CEDIA have different audiences. CEDIA is Custom Installation (CI) industry-centric and has many different initiatives and purposes such as integrator education, advocacy, and workforce development. CEDIA certifies individuals, not companies.

The HTA certifies companies, not individuals. The HTA is a consumer advocacy group to help homeowners and specifiers find the very best firms in the CI industry. The HTA set the standard of excellence that consumers can rely on when hiring a technology integration firm for their project.

Is the HTA a competitor to CEDIA?

No, the Home Technology Association is not a competitor to CEDIA but rather a complement. The HTA and CEDIA both help integrators, though in different and complementary ways. CEDIA education helps Custom Installation (CI) firms improve in installation knowledge and successful business practices, something the HTA supports and endorses. The HTA includes a CEDIA Member reference on each HTA Certified dealer profile and will include the CEDIA certifications the various individuals within the firm may have.

CEDIA, along with the CTA, is the CI industry’s voice in Washington DC whenever there is any legislation affecting the low-voltage industry. The home technology industry needs CEDIA and the CTA, just as it does the Home Technology Association, and the many benefits they bring to integration firms and technicians.

Ideally integration companies would have both CEDIA and HTA Certifications. Integration firms would have CEDIA certified technicians, and the company itself would be HTA Certified. In regard to certifications, CEDIA and the HTA certify different things. CEDIA certifies individuals. The HTA certifies companies as to their technical ability, customer service, and reputation. In conclusion, the HTA supports CEDIA, and CEDIA supports the HTA in its mission.

What are the certification requirements?

HTA has 60+ certification requirements and a confidential proprietary algorithm to objectively evaluate a firm's capabilities. You will get a high-level overview of the requirements by clicking here.

Do all HTA Certified integrators benefit from their certification status?

All benefit to some extent, though how much depends on how many of the HTA 'tools' are actively used by the dealer. If an HTA Certified dealer never mentions their HTA Certification status to potential clients, never explains how this differentiates them and elevates them above the fray, never uses the HTA logo on any branding, does not use the HTA budget estimator to prequalify clients, doesn't use their HTA certification status as a way to build credibility with trade partners, never attends any of the business-building HTA 'Mind Share' series of webinars, then the benefits will be much lower than the dealers that actively use the unique tools only the HTA can provide. Like any tool, it must be used to benefit from it.

I have my own Budget Calculator already, why use the HTA's?

Many integrators have created their own budgeting tool. Great! We suggest using the HTA's budget estimator first, as ours is brand neutral and created with the help of many industry pros. Since the HTA is a standards-setting organization designed to educate consumers, our calculator will always be perceived as more neutral and authoritative than an integrator's, since the integrator is aiming to sell something.

Prequalify your clients first and work more efficiently by first leading with the HTA's budget estimator. Invite them to create a realistic installed-cost budget, it will take them only about 5 minutes. The budget range spans from very good to top-of-the-line. Then, after a discussion with the client, tighten up the budget range using your company's budgeting tool built around your specific metrics. Doing this before creating a proposal saves a lot of proposal revision time.

How are you going to get the word out about the HTA?

The HTA has an aggressive awareness campaign that encompasses direct marketing, digital marketing, trade shows, and traditional advertising. The Home Technology Association is also building relationships with national design and build trade associations to let them know about the HTA Certification standard and how to find the most qualified integrators (see our relationships here). We reach out to HTA Certified integration firm's architect, builder, and interior designer partners, proving to them why it is in their and their clients' best interest to only hire HTA Certified firms. Getting the word out about the benefits of hiring HTA Certified companies is a top priority for the HTA.

Who came up with the HTA Certification standard?

Over 25 respected industry professionals were consulted on the certification criteria. The final set of certification criteria was approved by our Board of Advisors, which is comprised of some of the most respected names in the custom installation industry. Click here to meet our Board of Advisors.

Are all HTA Certified firms considered equal?

HTA Certified firms are divided into three categories: Estate, Luxury, and Foundation. Although we feel that great companies exist at every level, they are grouped into these categories as they excel at different types of projects. Our goal is to match homeowners with the right fit for their project. Click here for an explanation of the differences between the three HTA Certification tiers.

Do larger firms benefit from HTA Certification more than smaller firms?

Company size is not a scoring factor at any of the HTA Certification tiers. We do not ask gross sales figures as that is not relevant to what matters to the Home Technology Association. What IS important is a company's demonstrated: 1 - technical ability 2 - customer service & aftercare support policies, and 3 - reputation in the marketplace. There are plenty of small companies (less than 5 employees) that are exceptional in all three of these categories. A company's focus on excellence, not size, is what is important to the HTA.

Can any home technology integrator become an HTA Certified company?

No, the guidelines are stringent for certification. Either a company meets the criteria or not.

What is the HTA Resource Guide?

The Resource Guide is a directory of some of the best brands in the home technology industry. These stellar companies are hand-picked to participate in the Home Technology Association's mission to connect homeowners, architects, builders, and interior designers with the very best custom installation firms in the world.

Does brand participation in the HTA Resource Guide have any influence in the certification process for custom installation firms?

No. Home technology installation firms are not certified based on the brands they offer. No brand (participating or not) has the ability to influence our objective certification process.

Does the HTA's Board of Advisors decide who gets certified?

No. The Board of Advisors each had a hand in setting the HTA Certification criteria. Home Technology Association staff process each application in accord with these guidelines. Either the applying dealer meets the criteria or does not.

Do you share all of your evaluation & scoring criteria?

While we are happy to share some of the criteria we do not share it all, as doing would so would dilute the value of the Certification by making it easy for some to overstate their company’s statistics or include inaccurate figures. We do however list the minimum requirements so applicants can be prepared for what will be required (read them by clicking here). Bear in mind, while any Custom Installation (CI) firm may apply for HTA Certification we estimate less than 15% of CI firms will meet the HTA’s stringent criteria. Our goal is to ensure only the best firms may achieve HTA Certification.

How is the HTA funded, and what are the funds used for?

We are funded solely by revenues derived from certification fees. We use certification revenues for the following activities:

  • initial due diligence / vetting of the HTA Certification application
  • ongoing yearly verification of company information
  • consumer dispute research and resolution
  • HTA awareness campaigns directed towards design/build professionals & consumers
  • social media marketing
  • dealer marketing collateral
  • trade show expenses
  • website development and SEO

Is the HTA a Non-Profit organization?

HTA was kickstarted on investments, not donations, therefore we did not meet the requirements of a Non-Profit organization.

What do manufacturers think about the HTA?

The HTA has received overwhelming support by consumer electronics manufacturers. The goals of manufacturers and the Home Technology Association are in complete alignment. Great consumer experiences are delivered by great technology integrators which results in an increase of business for everyone. This is a triple-win and is easily recognized by every manufacturer. In 2020 the HTA launched the Supporting Brands program, click here to see leading brands supporting the HTA's mission of consumer electronics excellence.