Kevin Taylor is President of Powerful Signal based in Hurricane, Utah. He’s been in the cellular signal boosting industry for 11 years and prior to that worked in the business development department for Wilson Electronics. Powerful Signal helps offices and high-rises, warehouses and industrial buildings, retail locations, hotels, hospitals, schools, utilities, government agencies, and more to integrate complete, cell signal improvement solutions to boost wireless voice and data performance.
We recently caught up with Kevin to talk about the changes he’s seen in cellular signal amplifier technology over the years, and how his company handles the common issues and hurdles integrators encounter in the field.
WilsonPro: How many integrations do you do on a weekly or monthly basis?
Taylor: Integrations vary as far as what we do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. We get a lot of leads from our ecommerce/B2B site and a large amount of word-of-mouth leads. We also get a lot of repeat business because some companies have dozens, if not hundreds, of sites. The companies we’ve worked with in the past trust the level of service we provide.
Sales cycles are often months long and sometimes they extend to over a year. These take a lot of time, effort, and energy. I commend our professional sales staff for nurturing these leads into business.
WilsonPro: What is the secret to great customer service?
Taylor: Being an integrator is about being flexible. In some cases, that means providing some client training and education. No matter the approach, we always want to give them a system that’s designed properly. Designing the system is extremely important, especially when dealing with various carriers. That is the first mistake many people make — they don’t understand how it works.
WilsonPro: Where do the majority of Powerful Signal’s integrations take place?
Taylor: High-rise buildings and office spaces where people need communication are probably the most common for us. But we’ve done lots of unique installs — we’ve even done a concrete dam. Medical centers, hospitals and hotels are also really common.
WilsonPro: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in integration?
Taylor: The effect of the smartphone. Prior to the smartphone, improving cell signal was just a convenience factor. When people started depending on smartphones, they became more dependent on signal and any place that didn’t have signal became a problem for employers and building managers who couldn’t secure leases because of it. Today, many companies require a certain level of signal to sign a lease. It’s now a necessity.
The hardware has gotten more sophisticated and better as well. New Federal Communications Commission rules in 2014 basically rebooted this industry. Boosters now rarely cause problems with cell towers. Overall, performance and quality have gotten better in recent years because there has been a reduction down to a handful of manufacturers that are in it for the long haul.
WilsonPro: What technologies or products have made the biggest impact on improving cell signal for your customers?
Taylor: When LTE came out, the technology made things different. Now you can literally have 700 MHz LTE shooting across a desert. I was on Route 50, also known as “The Loneliest Road in America,” and I was astounded to have constant signal. When 4G and LTE came along, they opened up the possibility for people to really do anything on their phones. Now there is video, high-speed Internet, navigation — it’s gone far beyond just calling, texting and email. The manufacturers came on board very quickly with that.
WilsonPro: What future trends and products are you excited about?
Taylor: WilsonPro Live cell signal booster technology has been a big deal. They decided to approach commercial differently than residential and the WilsonPro line has done a good job of that. Data throughput and user loads are geared around large businesses.
Also, things have shifted away from people simply looking for the cheapest solution and now they want quality performance at a fair price.
WilsonPro: What are some common concerns you hear from customers before the integration process begins and how do you address those?
Taylor: Once they accept our quote they are typically concerned with how long the install will take and what will be needed in general. They want us to come in and make it happen, so there are structural concerns. Once we begin to identify potential issues during the site survey then the rest of it starts to fall into place.
WilsonPro: What issues or obstacles commonly catch customers off guard and how do you deal with those?
Taylor: Often times businesses don’t have roof rights and don’t realize we need roof access to complete an installation. The roof is sort of a privileged area and that catches customers off guard. Very few companies actually own the building they’re in, so we need to figure out how to gain access and that generally means we need to deal directly with building owners. We also have to recruit companies that specialize in drilling or otherwise penetrating the roof. In more modern buildings, drilling isn’t usually necessary because there are already accesses in place.
WilsonPro: What are some common technical issues that arise during the integration process and how do you address those issues?
Taylor: The biggest one is the imbalance of cell signal. There could be a T-Mobile tower across the street that is blasting signal and then a Verizon tower might be two blocks away. So one carrier has stronger signal than another, and with the nature of bands we’re using you have multiple carriers tied into a single band and each band has different channels, for example, A, B,C,D. If one is in B and one is in C, they are all tied together. You can inadvertently be turning down a signal that needs to be turned up. So balancing the carriers coming in is a challenge. We balance this in a couple of ways. You have to have an RF reader on the roof, and then using antenna configurations and attenuators on different cables.
WilsonPro: Tell us about your most challenging integration to date. How were you able to resolve the situation?
Taylor: When you’re dealing with new construction, contractors just want to get in and out. Because of that, we’ve had several situations when cables have been repeatedly cut or crushed, or antennas have been removed. That is a frequent challenge.
WilsonPro: What WilsonPro product do you recommend most frequently?
Taylor: It depends on the market. The WilsonPro 70 is one of our more popular ecommerce products. The Pro 1000 single-building amplifier is the next most popular.
WilsonPro: Is there anything you wish that your prospective customers knew that would make integration of cell signal boosters easier?
Taylor: There are a couple of things. One is that there are no shortcuts, although people often want them. If you’re working on a 10-floor high rise, for example, the customer has to do the legwork to provide the information that will lay the groundwork for a successful install. Oftentimes, people do not provide floor plans or other necessary information.
There are also legacy opinions about boosters and sometimes you have to convince people that it works. Or convince someone who has tried it before and it didn’t work to give it another chance. Usually in those cases, they were provided with the wrong solution. For example, we’ve gone into office buildings that had residential systems. You can’t just throw something at a problem and hope it works. Those kinds of errors are damaging — especially if you’re trying to execute a clean-up operation where a customer has already spent $10,000.
WilsonPro: What advice you would impart to new integrators?
Taylor: Installations become increasingly challenging when people don’t follow the plan. The entire plan has to be followed. Implementations where the installer doesn’t follow the plan present challenges. Over the last year we have ensured that when we walk out of a building, everything is perfect — and if it’s not, we’re not finished. We now have amassed a really good group and we know who to work with. That has made a big difference.
Our Integrator’s Corner series spotlights integrators that have worked with WilsonPro products to gain their insights on cellular signal amplifier installations. If you’d like to learn more about how our products can help your customers, contact WIlsonPro today.