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FAQ - Integration Firms

How does HTA Certification benefit my business?

In a nutshell, by leveraging your HTA Certification status and sharing the HTA Certification Defined page with a prospective client, you focus the buying decision on competence instead of a lower price. If your company meets the HTA's stringent certification criteria, you will receive the following benefits:

  • Sales: the distinction of a published third-party company certification that legitimately sets your firm apart from less-qualified companies.
  • Sales: HTA Certification helps change the hiring decision from price to competence.
  • Sales: HTA Certification lends credibility & trust in your company's abilities in a similar way that Michelin stars recognize the best restaurants, how 5-star safety ratings validate an automobile's safety, and how the best diamonds are GIA or EGL rated.
  • Sales: gives you a legitimate reason (HTA Certification status) to have non-certified firms disqualified from bidding.
  • 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: online access to the exclusive 'HTA Sales Closer Tool,' giving you time-tested strategies to solve sales closing roadblocks.
  • Sales: leads from the HTA Certified Installer finder tool, which is also embedded on the NKBA's website.
  • Sales: personal references and video testimonial from the HTA's CEO
  • 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.
  • Marketing: direct outreach on your behalf to architects, builders, and interior designers.
  • Reputation with consumers: a consumer-facing standard proving you are amongst the top 10% of home technology integrators in terms of technical ability, customer service, and company reputation.
  • Reputation with the trades: HTA Certified dealers can opt into the HTA Design Partner program, which gives architects, builders, and interior designers the trust they need to bring you to their projects early.
  • 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 trade partners on how to hire the best integration firms.
  • Education: the HTA has relationships with builder & designer associations and educates them on what you do, when to bring you to their projects, and how to hire the best integrators.
  • Education: the HTA created the 'Project Technology Assessment' form that is shared with builder and designer associations, designed to get integrators hired early in their process (HTA dealers get a custom version of the form). This HTA-branded form is now on the NAHB's website as a resource for custom builders.
  • Education, Community & Growth: attend exclusive HTA members-only sales, strategy, and growth webinars. See the 2024 slate of HTA webinars here.
  • Education & Sales: the HTA Budget Calculator educates, prequalifies, increases project sizes, increases the number of subsystems sold, causes consumers to shop around less, and validates your proposals. It may be embedded in your website. You never need to ask for a client's budget again. It is embedded on the NAHB's website for use by custom builders, too.
  • Efficiency: Revamping your sales process with the HTA method reduces the time it takes to close the sale and lessens or eliminates the need for value engineering.
  • 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.
 

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 a GIA rating is to diamonds, Michelin stars are to the best restaurants, 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 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:


Do Architects, Builders, and Interior Designers care about the Home Technology Association & HTA Certification?

Yes. The HTA reaches out to the design and build communities through trade association relationships, social media outreach, newsletters, teaches at their conventions, and writes articles for their websites and their industry publications, extolling the benefits of early technology design and how to partner with design-centric integrators. However, architects, designers, and builders are introduced to the HTA primarily by integrators who promote the HTA Certified standard in their local design and build community. Once they learn of the HTA standard, they respect it and may even demand it on their projects. They want quality assurance. 

See the videos below from an architect, a builder, and an interior designer. Each share how various HTA resources, such as the Project Technology Assessment form, the technology budget calculator, the home technology integrator finder, and the HTA Design Partner program help them plan for technology and find the best integrators.


We already have too much business, why do we need HTA Certification?

Most successful integration firms are busier than ever, and as such, are not able to meet local demand. Smart integrators use HTA tools to work more efficiently. Here are a few examples of HTA tools put to use:

  1. the HTA elevator pitch and defined standard 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 hiring the wrong integrator. HTA Certification gives them additional peace of mind, especially when they learn that less than 10% of the integrators meet the HTA’s certification requirements.
  2. 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 or a client obsessed with finding the lowest price.
  3. Less time spent value engineering proposals (use the HTA's budget calculator)
  4. Ammunition architects, builders, and interior designers need to defend why they refer you
  5. Drastically reduce the time it takes to build trust with new trade partner relationships 

Note that only successful integrators make it through the HTA's vetting process. Successful integrators that become HTA Certified work more efficiently and get to work with clients who value professionalism and customer service, weeding out the ones solely focused on finding the cheapest installer in town.


Will I get more business from being HTA Certified?

This is mostly up to the dealer! All benefit to some extent, though how much depends on how many of the HTA tools the dealer actively uses. 

Passively, an HTA Certified dealer's HTA listing page typically shows on the first page of a Google search, and the HTA's statistics show that most dealer's HTA company profile pages gets a few hundred page visits per year. Though if a dealer never shares the HTA elevator pitch, 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.


Why is the HTA's Budget Estimator so popular?

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 them 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. Integrators who lead with the HTA's budget calculator prequalify clients quickly. Once prospective 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.


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 is perceived as more neutral and authoritative than an integrator's, since the integrator is selling something and the HTA's is purely educational.

Prequalify your clients first and work more efficiently by first starting with the HTA's budget estimator. Explain that it was created to share a realistic installed-cost budget for systems ranging 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.


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 'leads' 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!

The HTA created the opt-in HTA Design Partner program in late 2022 to give architects, interior designers, and builders trust and confidence to bring in HTA Certified integrators into their projects early in their project phase.

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-rated diamonds are more valuable than non-rated 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.


What is an HTA Design Partner?

The HTA Design Partner program was created to recognize the HTA Certified integrators that not only offer technology consultation and design, but also collaborate with design and build teams to ensure that the technology is integrated into the home in the best way possible. This opt-in program serves as the 'rules of engagement' for how integrators and trade partners work together collaboratively. It is designed to bring qualified integrators to new construction and remodel projects early.

The complement to this program is the HTA Technology Partner program that architects, interior designers, and builders can opt into and shares how best to work with integrators, all in service to homeowners having the best technology experience.


What is an HTA Technology Partner?

Technology-proactive architects, interior designers, and builders may opt in to the Home Technology Association's HTA Technology Partner program. This designation shows that these design and build professionals understand that their clients' safety and entertainment needs must be determined early. The complement of this designation is the HTA Design Partner designation that HTA Certified integrators may opt into.

The HTA Design Partner designation and the complementary HTA Technology Partner designation create professional harmony between architects, interior designers, builders, and integrators. The complementary designations and resulting 'rules of engagement' clearly define how design and build pros and integrators should work together to achieve successful project outcomes.


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, architects, builders, and interior designers 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. The HTA supports CEDIA, and CEDIA supports the HTA in its mission.


Is the HTA a Buying Group?

No, the Home Technology Association is a consumer-facing association that helps homeowners and home design and building professionals find qualified home technology installation firms. Over 70% of HTA Certified integrators in North America are in one of the three custom integration-focused buying groups (Azione Unlimited, HTSA, and ProSource). The HTA is a proponent of buying groups and the many benefits they offer integrators.


What are HTA 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.


What is the process to become HTA Certified?

  1. Start an application to get your company HTA Certified at https://htacertified.org/apply 
  2. Upon completion of the application, it will take a period of weeks for the HTA staff to process the application. You will be notified once processing is completed
  3. If approved, you will be notified, your company will be listed on the HTA's certified dealer finder tool, and you will receive HTA sales and marketing tools
  4. An official onboarding call will be scheduled at a time convenient for you to ensure your team knows how to use each HTA tool for maximum effect

How are you publicizing HTA Certification?

The HTA has an awareness campaign that encompasses direct marketing, digital marketing, trade shows, and traditional advertising. The Home Technology Association has also built 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).

Additionally, we will (optionally) reach out to HTA Certified integration firm's architect, builder, and interior designer partners, proving to them why it is in their and their client's best interest to only hire HTA Certified firms. 


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.


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.


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 for 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 smaller companies (less than five 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.


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.


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.