The Finishing Stage And How To Do It Right

oops-leeIf you’re called back for a second interview for a job, the fact is that they’ve already decided to hire you: The second interview is simply your last chance to screw it up. You just have to reinforce the good impression you made in the first interview and you’re good to go.By that same token, the finishing stage of an AV project is your company’s last chance to screw up the job.

The finishing stage is where you’re supposed to tend to the remaining details, not least of which is running tests to make sure everything is doing what it’s supposed to. That’s what’s supposed to happen, yet sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve gotten plenty of phone calls from end users, looking for someone to “fix” a system that someone else installed, and I know you have too.

Let’s veer away from AV for a moment, so I can tell you a story from outside our industry that underscores the importance of competence in the finishing stage.

Last summer our LG-brand washing machine broke down. The good news: It was covered under the extended warranty. Still more good news: The techs from LG arrived with a replacement wash drum, removed the old one and installed the new one, all in under an hour’s time. The bad news: When reconnecting the water hoses, they misconnected them, so that the hot hose was going into the cold inlet and the cold hose into the hot inlet. Worse news: The error wasn’t discovered until my wife ran a cycle of delicates on “cold,” only to have them ruined in scalding hot water.

What do washing machines have to do with AV installations?

One small error, one failure to pay attention to details turned a good customer service experience into a bad one, with a customer (my wife) who was now purple with fury. So yeah, the finishing stage matters a whole lot.

Fortunately, just like designing and installing, testing and troubleshooting is just another process.

Using a standardized checklist of system functions is a mandatory best practice. Every discipline, including audio, video, lighting control and so on, should have a list of everything that the system is supposed to do, and arrange it so that the tester can check off and initial each function after confirming it, as well as space to write notes if a deficiency is found.

I’ve always used ones that have three columns for confirming functions: one for the installing technician, one for the project manager and one for the sales designer.

Overkill? Maybe, but it’s better to be certain.

If you find an issue, you need to troubleshoot effectively. Effective troubleshooting is a column all it’s own, but the cardinal steps are Diagnose, Analyze, Repair, Test and Prevent.

Upon completion, review the results of the final install checklist in a team business meeting as a training tool. Constructively advising your team on an ongoing basis will contribute to maintaining or better yet improving your company’s standards.