Imagine this: As you walk away to take a break from an AV installation where you installed 20 cables, an HVAC tech takes a chainsaw to the bottom of the stud bay, cutting all the cables in one swift hack.
From brand new to retrofits, I’ve (nearly) seen it all in the past 18 years in terms of AV installation horror stories. Some errors are just an annoyance while other mistakes like the one I mentioned above can cost serious man-hours and dollars to fix.
And no matter how big the AV installation is, the number one goal is that set-up should be efficient and follow best practices.
To avoid an AV horror story of your own, here are some tips on how to stay on top of your game:
1. Measure Twice.
If you don’t measure correctly, you’re going to end up with a less than perfect installation that you’ll have to take down and redo.
An easy way to avoid this is to measure the area where you’re working in when you first get to a job, and again right before you start integrating.
One time we had a 36″ widescreen tube TV being put into a custom cabinet. After hooking everything up and terminating all of the wires, of course, the TV didn’t fit. We had to box and measure it again since the measurements, taken by someone else, didn’t add up.
2. Learn Something New Every Day.
Technology changes frequently, whether you’re setting up a wall mount, AV receiver, projector, or an emerging technology solution. I’ve seen hidden menu systems where you can only go in certain protective settings to adjust it properly.
Manufacturers often offer free product training – be sure to take advantage of this. You’ll be more knowledgeable about the product so you can confidently approach the customer and you’ll have a leg-up on the competition.
3. Achieve a Clean Look.
Improper labeling will result in lots of unnecessary troubleshooting which can be prevented by utilizing an efficient, company-wide labeling system. This system should be taught to every integrator on the team because it will save time, money and frustration.
I worked with one guy who cut all the wires to length at the rack locations and didn’t label them. When it came time for integration, he had to go back up and tone out 10 locations. Lesson learned.
This also applies to consistent wire termination. For example, there are two standard ways to terminate a Cat5. All it takes is a talk with your team and a unified way to terminate your wires. Wire termination, especially in the residential world, is a big deal.
I also see wires dangling in restaurants, bars and other applications way too often. As the integrator, it’s your job to find a way to hide the wires as much as possible to achieve the clean look the customer is always looking for.
4. Strategic Placement.
It’s crucial to put equipment in the right place so the user has easy access to it. The most notable examples are for digital signage in hotel lobbies and TVs in bars and restaurants.
Digital signage has a purpose – to offer a better customer experience. Sometimes that means a floor-standing kiosk works better than a large screen that gets lost in the corner.
5. Get it Right.
As an installer, integrator or distributor, every day you walk on a job with a mission to get it right the first time.
That should be our mantra in the industry because it truly does allow all of us to offer the best products so that you can deliver the best solutions for your customer. It’s a shared commitment to help one another make the best out of our combined experience and skill for a flawless finished job.
How do avoid an AV installation horror story? Let me know in the comments below!