Warm Thoughts for a Cold Time
It's been a brutal winter all over North America so far; at one point last month, there was snow cover in every one of the continental U.S. states except for Florida! But there are reasons for optimism this month as we weather those icy Arctic blasts: The days are getting longer, pitchers and catchers will report for spring training in a couple of weeks and, from all indications, the economy continues to turn what has been a very long corner.



As consumers huddle inside their homes for warmth, now is a great time to reach out and check in with current and prospective customers. Are they happy with their current setup? Would they be interested in lighting, an iPod solution, an upgraded remote? You can get splashy: Offer to build a great Super Bowl Sunday system, or update an existing one (although the clock is ticking). Do a Valentine's-themed promotion. Start telling your sports-fanatic customers how much a great control system will enhance their March Madness experience. Tell them spring's just around the corner, and that creating a great outdoor AV experience that's integrated with their system inside will give them even more reason to be excited about the warm days and nights that will arrive soon enough.

Enjoy this month's newsletter! Keep your feedback and suggestions coming at editor@universalremote.com. And make sure to tell your coworkers to sign up to receive their own copies! Just direct them to www.universalremote.com/newsletter.

Stay warm (even those of you in snow-free Florida), and take advantage of the nesting impulses of your snow-bound customers!

- Your friends at URC
Total Control Training at EHX!
Big news: Our first "official" Total Control Training event will occur next month at EHX 2011: The CE Pro Event, to be held from March 17 to 19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

URC will host three days of world-class training during EHX. Be there on Thursday, March 17, for our day of Total Control programming training—from design, specification and applications, to installation and programming. (Note: Thursday is the ONLY day URC will deliver Total Control programming training.)

On Friday, March 18, we'll offer a full day of trainings for our universal programming platform: CCP. From intro to advanced, from the MX-880 to the MX-6000, this is your day to get up to speed on all things CCP!

On Saturday, March 19, we'll offer Total Control training on design, specification and applications. (Note again, however, that there will be NO programming training on Saturday.)

All work and no play certainly wouldn't be much fun. So join the CE Pro All Star Band for a night of live classic rock and blues. The band is comprised of industry members representing the manufacturing and dealer communities, as well as folks from CE Pro and CEDIA. Holding it down on the bass? URC's own Mitch Klein! The show starts at 6:00 on Thursday, March 17, which is St. Patrick's Day. This event could get crazy!
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Attention Fence Sitters! Join URC at EHX: The CE Pro Event, and Save Big Bucks
Been sitting on the fence about EHX: The CE Pro Event?

If you're like most Americans, being battered by snow, ice and frigid temperatures, and you STILL need a stronger reason to book a trip to Orlando in March, here it is!

Register for EHX today using URC's exclusive link and Priority Code, and you can receive big discounts.

Click here and use Priority Code JS10525.

What To Do

Register at the discounted rate of $69 for the New Opportunities Pass (regularly $99), or for even more savings, register for the $99 Business Owners Opportunity Package (normally $149).

What You Get
The $69 New Opportunities Pass gives you access to 21 CEDIA University classes, the ADI Skills Challenge, admission to the big, big CE Pro All Star Band St. Patrick's Day Party (including a pair of drink tickets), three-day access to the Exhibit Hall — and even a $10 food voucher.

Step up to the $99 Business Owners Opportunity Package and you'll receive everything above, PLUS an exclusive Business Owners' Networking Luncheon (Thursday), special owner-oriented sessions and a free one-year membership in CE Pro's "What a Great Deal" Benefits Program.

And don't forget: URC is conducting the world's first "official" Total Control training event at EHX!

Why Wait?

EHX: The CE Pro Event is the best thing going this spring if you want to learn about all the new products, earn CEDIA CEU credits, network with other custom installation professionals and spend three action-packed days in sunny Orlando, Florida.

Use our link and priority code to register today, and get even more bang for your buck!

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We Have Our First Caption Contest Winner!
Congratulations to Rick Henderson, owner of Reception Connection in Dunnville, Ontario, who is the first winner of our Caption Contest! Rick receives a $50 AMEX Gift Card for his caption of last month's photo: I turned up the brightness but you're still as dumb as a plank!

"This might be first time I've won a contest since I was a kid at camp," laughs Rick. "I used to win desserts!"

Reception Connection has been in business for almost 30 years, or as Rick says, "since satellite dishes were made by boat builders." The two-man operation, consisting of Rick and his son Marcus, performs a healthy mix of commercial and residential installations, ranging from home theaters to sports bars to offices to health clubs. "Business is extremely good," Rick reports.
Caption Contest winner, Rick Henderson

Rick has been selling and installing URC remotes for about two years, acquiring our product through AVAD Canada. His go-to remotes are the MX-450, MX-880 and MX-980, along with our MRF-260 and MRF-350 RF base stations. Previously, he had installed mostly Harmony remotes, but now he's exclusively installing URC remotes. "I'm pretty much convinced that URC remotes are generally the best remotes around," he says. "Customizable remotes are on the rise; you must have a macro-based remote."

Rick doesn't encounter many problems selling what, in the minds of some consumers and pundits, are "expensive" remotes. "You have to know how to sell them," he says. "I tell them, it's the only piece of the whole installation that you'll ever touch. I keep it to 'Remote for Dummies,' and I have no problems."

Rick and Marcus are users of the URC Control Room and have signed up for URC University, taking courses on CCP and networking, the latter of which Rick says is extremely important for his installation business going forward.

One interesting aspect of Rick's business is that he does great selling televisions, generating 20 percent profit with many sales. Rick, who jokingly calls himself the "God of TV," handles models from brands like Samsung, Panasonic, Toshiba and Sharp, and strongly disagrees with the widely-held view that custom installers can't make profits on TVs any longer. "People just don't know how to sell," he maintains. "They go into it with a very negative attitude. Selling yourself and your services is the key to success. A good product will sell itself.

"Look, people hate the big box stores," says Rick. "They're sold the wrong things by unknowledgeable salespeople. I tell customers, 'Sure, we're 50 bucks more, but we set it up for you, we handle the first year of warranty.'" Most customers, he says, are won over by his pitch; the rest, he says, aren't his kind of customer anyway.

Even more impressively, Rick doesn't have a retail location to show off those TV features. "Never had one, never will," he says.

In the commercial realm, Rick is excited about ZeeVee modulation, which he says is revolutionizing the way sports bars operate by eliminating the need for HDTV matrix switching. ZeeVee enables Rick to distribute multiple HD channels directly to all of a bar's TVs using existing coax wiring, and provides independent access to all HDTV sources to all displays, including projectors. Rick's doing one bar right now that has 48 displays, and he's installing eight more in advance of the Super Bowl. "And they control everything with one MX-450," he says.

URC congratulates Rick on his booming business... as well as his awesome photo captioning ability!

Get ready... our next Caption Contest runs in next month's issue!

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Product of the Month: TRC-780
The TRC-780 Total Control wand style remote will enable you to bring whole house system automation to your clients at a very affordable $299 MSRP. Its color OLED screen is more durable, easier on the eyes and uses less energy than traditional LCD screens.

The TRC-780, which features six screen-labeled buttons, provides 2-way text feedback and communication with the "brain" of our Total Control system, the MRX-10 Network System Controller (required). Its 2-way RF capabilities leverage 2.4 GHz RF technology, which will enable you to give your clients the ability to browse their iPod playlists, activate lighting scenes and adjust climate control. It can also relay IR commands from the MRX-10 via line of sight when IR flashers cannot be installed. Bonus: The TRC-780 can be programmed off premises via the internet.

As with all URC remotes, we paid special attention to comfort and usability. The TRC-780's outer casing fits the contour of the user's hand with a soothing natural feel. Its strategic button placement eliminates the guess work from the user's fingers as they fall naturally onto the ultimate 5-way rocker button pad, which is designed specifically with guide and menu browsing fans in mind.

You'll be able to install the TRC-780 as a solo single-zone controller, or install multiple TRC-780s to expand control to additional rooms without interference. Thanks to our breakthrough room linking technology, you can enable clients to control all room volumes simultaneously from any one TRC-780, and link the sources in any room. With the TRC-780, your client won't need to leave the couch to lower the volume level of music in another room. Remember, you'll need to be certified to sell and install our Total Control products. Get certified now at URC University, accessible through the URC Control Room!

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URC Team Member of the Month: Marguerita Kiser
Marguerita Kiser, West Coast Sales Manager
It doesn't matter how great a company's technology is; without an equally great sales force to bring it to market, your technology will never reach its full potential. That's why URC is so fortunate to have a great sales professional like Marguerita Kiser out there on the front lines.

Marguerita joined URC in late 2004 as our West Coast training manager (at the time, "West Coast" meant everything west of the Mississippi!). Two years later, she made the jump from training to sales, and she hasn't looked back. In her region, she manages our rep firms, distributors and direct accounts; she's also responsible for our distributors in Australia and New Zealand.

"URC is like a big family, and I enjoy working with everyone there," says Marguerita. "I love the product and it always seems there is something new to learn every day."

In her fast-paced, high-pressure role, challenges abound. "There's a lot more competition out there now, so it's important that I am always learning about all of the different product out there, and telling dealers why URC is the better choice," says Marguerita. The most rewarding aspect of her job is "finding new dealers that have never used URC, and seeing their faces light up when they start using our product, and telling me, 'Now I get it!'"

One thing's for certain: there's never a dull moment in the sales game. "My typical day involves helping to put out fires from dealers or our sales reps, calling reps to discuss sales goals, targeting new accounts, working on dealer issues, answering hundreds of emails, and visiting dealers with our sales reps," says Marguerita. But it's all worth it when she achieves her proudest accomplishment at URC: "Hitting our target sales goals."

Marguerita has been part of the CEDIA channel for some time. Prior to working at URC, she spent 12 years with Xantech, where she was director of international sales, and managed all aspects of inside sales. "Xantech had many products that needed to be programmed by software, so coming to URC and programming remotes was an easy transition for me," she recalls.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Marguerita loves margaritas, as well as wine, Indian and Mexican food. She enjoys reading books from the horror genre, particularly those by her favorite author, Stephen King. Marguerita and her wonderful husband of many years, Steve, care for four cats. "Those are our kids and they are very spoiled!" she says.

Another passion of Marguerita's is fishing. She and Steve participated in numerous bass fishing tournaments together over the years, although they've now retired from competition. "In most cases, we were the only man-and-woman team," says Marguerita. "I don't like getting up at the crack of dawn anymore, so we don't fish team tournaments anymore. We fish for fun now, and we recently purchased our fourth bass boat. We usually go to the lake every Saturday."

URC thanks Marguerita for her dedication, passion and tireless work. Here's to catching more big fish, both on the lake and in the marketplace!

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We talk a lot in this newsletter about our 2-way modules for the KP-4000, MX-5000 and MX-6000, but are you up to speed on what they can do, and how you can use them to enhance your installations? Join Russ Hoffman, URC's Education and Content Development Manager, as he tells you about a great, self-paced 2-way course—and much more—that's available for FREE, anytime you'd like, on our online URC University!
We also have plenty more videos on the installers-only URC Control Room site. Not a URC Control Room member yet? Shame on you! Click here to join.

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Your Business
By Glenn Gentilin
URC Regional Product Specialist

Business conditions remain challenging, that's for sure. But there have been some definite signs of improvement recently. And there's still money to be made out there.

So, how do you position your company for prosperity during these times? One answer is to diversify. I've had business giants tell me, "You have to play to your strengths." But what happens when your strongest selling points no longer address a thriving market?

Become strong in other places.

As an industry, we've had to do this before. No one I know really ever wanted to own a home's cable network. But we did, and we found ways to profit from it. Today, as flat panel TVs continue to drive consumer interest, we need to adapt to find ways to make money selling them. And more and more, CE products (TVs, Blu-ray players, videogame consoles and even appliances) are living on the network.

Energy conservation now lives on the network! So does AV. You need to be the network guy that makes everything work together, smoothly and conveniently.

It's time to become the network tech for your customers. It's time to learn how to spec, install and maintain the Ethernet for your clients, and then add energy management to your product offerings. The monitoring and management of home energy consumption will only grow in scope going forward. As LEED-certified construction projects begin to rise, you want to be positioned to provide your services to those builders.

Give clients total operational control over their HVAC systems, right at their fingertips. Allow the client to pick up the remote on the coffee table and adjust the temperature, and even change every parameter.

Lighting and shade control dovetail nicely into this offering as well. Offer the ability to control lights and shades from the couch—even remotely, such as from the client's office or car. Program automatic actions based on time of day; for example, have the shades open and close depending on when the sun rises and sets.

Give your clients a simple, unified interface that controls both AV and energy management, and you'll increase the value of the services you provide. That's how to position your company for the good times that lie ahead—by expanding your skill set and expertise.

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Hank's Tip of the Month
By Hank Eisengrein
URC Regional Training Manager, East

Hello from the dead of winter here in the Northeast U.S. This month features what has become the most viewed sporting event in the U.S., the NFL's Super Bowl (American) football game.

This event has become much more than just a game. As a business professional, you can use it, and other events in the months to come, to build custom/professional systems from URC for your loyal customers.

The Super Bowl offers you a reason to connect with your customers to design and improve their entertainment systems for the future.

Even though the "big game" is this week, follow up with your customers to ask if they're happy with their current systems, or if you can consult with them to upgrade and add new features. Consider how you can add URC lighting products to an existing remote system. Look for ways to add more remote controls and keypads.

Don't forget, you can set the stage for increased enjoyment when "March Madness" starts a few weeks after the Super Bowl is over. And don't forget that pitchers and catchers report to spring training this month!

Use our very broad product line to your advantage to provide your customers expanded operation of their systems. Create and offer "package upgrades" by using award-winning products like our PSX-2 Personal Server and our 2-way network products: our KP-4000 network keypad, our MX-5000 IR/RF/Wi-Fi haptic color LCD wand remote, and of course our flagship MX-6000 tablet remote, featuring an active Web browser module found inside your CCP software program.

With people gathered inside during these winter months, build your business with a review of your clients' systems while suggesting easy ways to add to the fun. Market your services in early 2011, and you'll see an uptick in your overall business for the entire year.

I encourage every URC dealer to broadcast a message to past and current customers: "Is your entertainment system really Super?" "Are you ready for the big game now and in the future?" "Let us design a new system solution for 2011 for your entire family to enjoy."

You might say, "But Hank, my customers don't care about the Super Bowl." Then use a different approach, what I call the "Cupid" angle.

For many homeowners, the entertainment system can be a difficult thing to operate and enjoy. How about offering a Valentine's Day promotion to offer a custom programmed remote control solution to end the frustration once and for all? You can market to the different family members that you have the perfect gift for this romantic holiday, something that will be in use long after the flowers are dead and the box of chocolates is empty.

Don't stop there. Use key concepts and milestone events like this month's Super Bowl and Valentine's Day to develop a promotional calendar that you can use as a powerful marketing tool. It doesn't cost much, but it can really set you apart from those dealers who are selling on price alone.

Have a great Super Bowl experience and happy selling!

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Tech Tips
By Joe Salvatore
URC Technical Support Manager

With the dead of winter upon us, one thing is certain: Your customers will be spending a lot of time indoors becoming more acquainted with their new home theaters. This, of course, increases the likelihood of service calls.

Here are three classic, real-world calls we've experienced here in URC technical support, along with our recommended solutions on how to attack each issue effectively without having it escalate:

Issue: Louie the family dog stashes his rawhides behind the equipment rack. He's accidently pulled on some interconnects while fiddling around in the spaghetti mess. Problem is, the customer can't distinguish where the loose cables came from.

Prevention method: Use color-coded adhesives to match interconnects when making your connections during installation. I like to use a Brother P-Touch label maker as well to keep things even simpler; they're inexpensive and highly effective! Now, should a cable become disconnected, even Louie could easily put it back in place. (Hey, Louie is a seeing-eye dog... OK, maybe not, but you get the picture :)

**

Problem: Johnny Blu-ray is unable to determine why he's getting no signal when he pops in a movie. Everything seems to work right, yet what he describes as a wrong input selection has been proven otherwise by two of your troubleshooting efforts.

Resolution: Eliminate confusion by incorporating some form of videoconferencing into your service calls. Might I recommend FaceTime for Mac? FaceTime allows you to easily use an iPhone 4, iPod touch or Mac over Wi-Fi to see exactly what Johnny sees. You'll be able to direct him to a resolution easily without ripping your hair out (if you still have yours).

**

Confusion: Despite the simplest of remote configurations to her MX-6000, Ethel still can't understand that pressing a button labeled with an activity configures her system for that activity. So she raids the equipment cabinet on occasion and throws everything out of sync.

Clarification: Lock the cabinet! OK, you can't do that to Ethel or any customer for that matter, BUT you can bury a help page into a remote configuration that minimally lists power and input selection for every device in the system. You might even want to password-protect it in case your customer accidently stumbles upon it.

These are just a few wacky scenarios you'll be lucky to avoid this winter. Being prepared for them is your best defense.

If you've encountered similar situations and would like to share your tips, please send feedback to techsupport@universalremote.com.

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Mitch's Musings
By Mitchell Klein
URC Director of Business Development

In December's issue, I encouraged you to "let your customer drive" the demo. But what if you toss the customers the keys, and you're out of gas, or have a flat tire?

The scenario: Just when things start going well with your prospective customer meeting, you hand over the remote and let her drive.

And wouldn't you know it? She presses the one button you knew would be a problem and... nothing happens.

So little time, so many excuses: The internet connection is down, so your Pandora link doesn't work; you had a project to finish and didn't have that Blu-ray in stock, so you grabbed it out of the display; the IR flasher you taped to the front of your cable box fell off; you neglected to place the remote back in the charging base, so the battery died.

Doesn't matter. You just crashed the ambulance.

Now, your client is CERTAIN this stuff will NEVER work right; this failed demo has just confirmed her worst fears. She's staring at your expensive system, gazing at this cool control and wondering what she did wrong, and if the same thing will always happen to her.

"No worries," you insist, moving into backhoe mode as you attempt to explain why YOUR demo didn't work but HER system will, every time! She gives you an understanding nod, but in her mind, she is completely disengaging from this "experience" and focusing on anything BUT the fact that she now realizes that stopping into your showroom was a mistake.

In my travels, I've seen many superb showrooms and stunning vignettes. Yet I can't really recall that many of them actually worked. Not completely, anyway. Not in a way that I'd ever let a prospective customer drive. Too many dealers use their showrooms as "labs," places to test new products or systems with which their programmers can tinker.

Even worse, too many showrooms are extensions of warehouses, where products are removed for installations, or pulled due to a lack of planning on the job and in the showroom.

I'm very confident that if you really think about it, your showroom—your demos, if you will—are not exactly ALL at 100 percent, either.

In my showroom, I had a very clear edict to all: "Don't Crash the Ambulance!" That is, NEVER remove, replace, reprogram or in any way touch ANY of the demo systems without carefully planning, acquiring and programming the necessary replacement products. Because one never knows when the next big project may walk through the door, the last thing you should ever accept is a failed demo—a client who finds the car out of gas or with a flat tire.

Can you guarantee ALL of your demos will run flawlessly when your client drives? If not, what are you going to do about it? Food for thought during these prime selling days.

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URC Tool Box
App of the Month
MX-880 Master Templates Collection
In addition to the wealth of free downloads available on the URC Tool Box, some of our dealers are monetizing their hard programming work by offering apps for purchase. To date, the most popular purchased Tool Box application, by far, is the $29.99 MX-980 Essentials Package. Now there's a similar package available for our workhorse MX-880 remote: the MX-880 Master Templates Collection. This download, also priced at $29.99, helps you make your MX-880s look even more polished with custom backgrounds and graphics.

To access the MX-880 Master Templates Collection and many more apps in the URC Tool Box, log on to the URC Control Room.

Haven't checked out the Tool Box yet? What are you waiting for? Do it today! Just log onto the URC Control Room and click "URC Tool Box" on the left side of the home page.

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URC Complete Control Partner of the Month: Intelix
Our partner Intelix is focused on commercial installation, but many of its products are relevant to our residential dealers too. Intelix offers a broad line of audio/video over twisted pair extenders, including solutions for multiple formats of audio and video, VGA, DVI, HDMI, USB, and PS2. It also manufactures an extensive line of HDMI over coax extenders, distribution amplifiers, scalers, converters, matrix switchers, room-combiners and multi-zone paging systems. If you don't know Intelix, visit them today at www.intelix.com!

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What's Hot
What's Hot this month? It's What's Hot! That's not doubletalk: We're simply suggesting that you check out the What's Hot section of the URC Control Room frequently. That way you'll always be up-to-date on all of the latest news from URC. (And now back to our regularly scheduled February c-c-cold, already in progress...)

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International News
URC's international distributor, BMB Electronics, will once again be a proud participant in the annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) show, to be held from February 1 to 3 at the RAI Centre in Amsterdam. BMB will place a special focus on URC's new Total Control product line, which cements URC's status as a whole house control solutions provider. URC will be featured in its own booth, 1L35, right next to the BMB Booth, 1K28.

In other ISE-related news, the URC Network Keypad Solution (KP-4000 and MRX-1) is a finalist for a 2011 EMEA+ Technology InAVation Award in the category of Most InAVative Commercial Control Solution. The award winners will be announced at ISE.

BMB and URC hope to see you at ISE!

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Upcoming Events
Stay up-to-date with our training and events schedule for February.
Click Here

Links
Contact the editors of Control the Universe:
editor@universalremote.com
Visit the dealers-only URC Control Room:
www.urccontrolroom.com
Visit the main URC site:
www.universalremote.com


Wish I'd Said That
In honor of Valentine's Day...
"Love and a cough cannot be hid."
- George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum, 1651

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