Details and Communication

I was recently meeting with one of my dealers and he expressed frustration at how may times he has to repeat himself on jobsites when communicating his requirements to trades like the electrician or the HVAC guy in order for them to do the thing he needs them to do, so he is able to do what HE needs to do.

I mean sure, effectively communicating your requirements to the other trades on the jobsite is part of the job, but it isn’t always easy. It’s impossible to over-communicate when laying out your specifications and dimensions to others.

That said, everyone who’s been around has at some point felt like they’re talking to rock and not even a smart rock, but an extra-slow rock. Getting through to others is especially tough if you have to rely on the site supervisor or someone else to correctly pass on your requirements. That can very quickly become a game of telephone.

We’ve all been there. Once, on one project, I went so far as to make a cardboard cut-out the size of the flat panel TVs and used them as visual aides to show the framer and the site super how much space to give it to recess it into the wall, taking everything including the drywall into account.

Even after quite a long time showing and explaining (and talking really slowly), they still messed it up. Twice. Nobody likes to be the one to say “I told you so” but if they’d listened to me, and read the dimensions I gave them in writing, it wouldn’t have happened.

The fact is that you, the AV pro knows as much specialist knowledge as anyone else and in some cases, probably more. While you know what you’re doing, and the electrician knows what he’s doing and the cabinet maker knows what he’s doing, the only way for everyone to be on the same page is by communicating.

One solution is to prepare handouts of guidelines that detail installation standards for your equipment and give them to stakeholders while the project is still being planned. Similar guides exist for other aspects of building and construction: insulation, framing, stonework, etc.

The idea behind supplying guidelines is to further other stakeholders understanding of your work, so that they can be mindful of what your system’s needs are while a project is still being revised in the planning stages.

In addition to doing that, it’s valuable to include a list of construction standards in your company’s operations manual. In the same way that you spell out standards for running wire or placing speakers, you can include a section on the ideal heights for mounting televisions in different rooms, a table detailing many tons of cooling the HVAC system needs to blow into a cinema room that holds a given number of people and so on.

That may seem like a lot of extra work but having those standards laid out in print not only benefits your install teams, it benefits the other trades you and your team interact with. Once you have a section in your operations manual that outlines your typical specifications and requirements, you can then cut and paste relevant information into your emails to other stakeholders on the project.