Five AV Dealer Words That the Drapery World Just Doesn’t Understand

By Norman Rosenberg

Let’s face it; AV dealers have their own lingo. And that’s a good thing… until it isn’t. As I mentioned in my last blog post, working relations between AV dealers and drapery workrooms can be, well, compromised at times. This is because many times AV dealers are using words that lack meaning to the drapery world. Are you using any of these five AV favs? If so it may be time to rework the lingo. Your drapery partners will thank you for it!

Integration

AV dealers all know that an integration means taking a motor and adding it into an entire system (and by the way “system” is another AV word that is confusing to other people — I’ll get that to that later.)

The word integration seems to have such a basic and simple meaning to AV dealers, but to interior designers and drapery workrooms, it can achieves the opposite — total confusion. They don’t know what you’re integrating, what is getting integrated into what or how exactly it is happening.

The word “integration” beckons a fuzzy picture for a drapery person which is why you’re probably getting a blank stare when you use it. Right?

System

This one goes hand in hand with “integration” and is equally confusing to the outside world. Drapery people don’t see that far out. They see the drapery they make, and have no idea what any “system” is.

To them, this word could mean a home control system, a television, a heating and air conditioning system, a lighting system, an electrical system..

So when an AV dealer says (drawing on my previous example) “We’re going to do an integration to the system” this is an overwhelmingly ambiguous term that carries little actual meaning.

The solution: Without using the word “system”, ask what kind of motor they intend to put onto the drapery. Once the AV person knows the kind of motor, they can figure out how to control it.

Programming

Every AV dealer knows that “programming” a drapery means telling the motor what to do. But to a draper person, this can mean a variety of things. Are you setting up some kind of schedule for the motor? Are you integrating some new kind of code into the motor?

Solution: Explain exactly how the drapery will be programmed by summarizing the steps that will need to be taken.

Construction

Construction happens before the people move in.

Decorating happens after the people move in.

The word “construction” and any of the terms related to it, are foreign words to a drapery person. Here’s where that can be problematic.

The first thing an AV person does during construction is put millions of miles of wires into the walls. Literally, miles of wires go into the walls.

In the case where you’re creating a motorized drapery, there is going to be wire running through the drapery. So who crates the drapery track?

Maybe the drapery track will come from the AV person. In this case, the drapery person needs to know what the drapery track is like, so that they can design an outfit accordingly.

Maybe the drapery track will come from the drapery person. In this case, the AV person doesn’t know anything about the track and how program it into the system.

But there’s no communication most of the time between the two parties. Everyone just says, “Go ahead” and then they do it wrong. Then the AV person gets stuck trying to figure out how to make the whole mess work in the end.

Solution: Instead of asking questions such as “Who’s handling the construction of this drapery track,” get down into the nitty gritty instead. Always exchange details thoroughly; don’t make any assumptions.

Pictures

This one captures exactly how the AV world and the drapery world are diametrically opposed to each other.

When I used to work for interior designers and they made draperies, they would take photographs. When I entered the world of motorization, the word “picture” took on an entirely different meaning.

Here’s why: drapery people take pictures, AV people take videos.

You can’t tell if something is motorized with a photograph. If something is motorized, you really need to take a video so you see it moving.

This just points to a much bigger issue that marks a large scale divide between the two mindsets.

Drapery people like everything to be on display, glossed up and glamorous and tied up with a shiny bow. AV people design systems to be hidden and invisible — except when you’re ready to operate it. Nobody wants to stare at an idle set of speakers, you’d always elect to hide those ugly things away in the cabinet.

Decorators cringe at the thought of spending on AV because they see every purchase as a ton of money to spend on something invisible. If they are going to spend 10k, they’d rather have a beautiful rug or sofa.

Going Beyond Words to Bridge the Gap

It’s not just a problem of words. The words are the symptom of the underlying illness.

It’s a much larger question of where the control lies. Each side wants control, but the paradox is this. How can you control something you don’t even understand?

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the end result to the client. It is incumbent upon the AV dealer to reconcile the wires, motors and hidden equipment with the drapery person who lives in a world of measurements, fabrication, and bright bold colors.

My advice to anyone who struggles with this is to pay more attention to the vocabulary you are using and to try to empathize with the other side. You’ll see that even slight improvements will make a big difference in your project execution by making the drapery workroom more comfortable trusting you. When they do, they’ll gladly loosen their grip and allow you into what they deem to be their world.

Norman is CEO of Rosenberg Interior Technologies  specializing in high-end window treatment & smart home design and installs.

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