One of the joys of the AV business is that as networked-capability increases the performance potential of integrated AV, it also increases the complexity, which means increasing the potential for service issues.
“Keep it simple,” is a great mantra to live by, but it only goes so far.
However, network-connectivity cuts both ways and while it makes your systems more complex, it also allows you to monitor and maintain your systems. Remote monitoring can both decrease service costs and provide recurring revenue through service contracts.
And even more fortunately, there are more than a few vendors now with off-the-shelf monitoring solutions for AV pros to choose from. Most began as sideline businesses by AV pros themselves who built out their own monitoring solutions, and then realized that there was a demand for their services. Remote monitoring is something that both IT and security have done forever; it just took some time and initiative for AV to finally catch up.
One of the primary values of working with a remote monitoring service provider is that it takes some pressure off the AV company; it doesn’t require you to keep a dedicated IT genius on staff, it just requires you to understand the basic principles.
Where monitoring services really come into their own is if your company has a large base of installed systems. A large base of installed client systems can requires a lot of juggling and demand what may feel like near-constant firefighting.
If you think of remote monitoring in the context of “know that there’s a problem before the client does” network monitoring allows a more proactive response, and in many cases the ability to fix the system remotely, without having to roll a truck for it.
Increased service efficiency improves the company’s bottom line: By eliminating the on-site service calls for trivial issues like rebooting a locked-up control processor or HD-PVR. Time is money and if you save both, they can be better spent elsewhere.
At the same time, in-depth analytics of the system means that when an on-site service call is necessary and a truck does have to roll, the service technician knows exactly what to load up for the work order, increasing efficiency.
Of course, in addition to saving money, the other advantage of remote monitoring is to make money.
I know that at least for some AV pros, their first reaction might be that it’s a tough sell: That after commissioning a six-figure system, trying to sell them on a monthly monitoring because something’s going to break is going to be tough sledding.
Indeed, there are certainly going to be some clients who will have an expectation that the service is gratis because they can’t imagine it not being so.
It’s up to the AV pro to realize the value system monitoring delivers, and then persuade the client to see it too. In-depth analytics of system performance provides a powerful tool to increase end-user satisfaction. As an AV pro, you can take ownership of that and charge for it.
In the AV channels it’s a reality that hardware margins seem to evaporate, and what’s profitable to sell and install one year may not be there the next. Recurring revenue from selling services puts AV companies on the same footing as IT and security companies and allows them to further monetize their expertise.