Communications and Client Management 

May 9, 2022

The key to a healthy relationship is open, clear communication. That applies to not only personal relationships, but also business ones. And central to having a positive relationship with your clients is how well you and they communicate with each other. That clarity has to begin right away. In the initial discussion and subsequent needs […]

featured Image

Managing Lead Times in the COVID Era

October 6, 2020

I’m at the point where I’m genuinely tired of dealing with the impact of COVID-19 on business, and I’m definitely tired of talking about it. But, as they say, we play the hand of cards we have dealt. There are a lot of complications that we have to face today as a result of COVID. […]

featured Image

The Threat of Substitution Is Always Around the Corner

August 25, 2020

So I had a particularly notable and unsatisfying customer service experience this year. I say “this year” because it’s been slowly unfolding like a slow-motion train wreck throughout almost all of 2020. Bear with me here, because it’s kind of a convoluted tale. There’s a brand of outdoor apparel that I’ve been loyal to for […]

featured Image

Forecasting in the Time of Cholera

August 2, 2020

Talking to my friends, peers and contacts in various channels, I’ve realized that we’re all facing similar challenges. I mean, obviously. Who isn’t? The challenge I want to address here is planning for the future. We’re all making our way through a period in which the precedent was before our lifetimes, so we have very […]

featured Image

Gantt Charts Are the Best Charts: Part 4

July 22, 2020

We covered the balancing act between the estimated time to complete tasks and the actual time in the previous installment. That leads to a related topic: the management of personnel, resources, and material. Tipping the balance between estimated and actual back into your favor requires proper management of the people and resources on your project. […]

featured Image

Design Retainers Are Your Friend: Qualifying and Filtering Clients

July 6, 2020

It’s said that the hard lessons are the only ones we really learn. I had a coach a long time ago, a gruff old man from a former Soviet bloc country. One of his bits of old country wisdom was, “Pain is best teacher; perhaps only teacher.” Someone else once said to me, “The universe […]

featured Image

How to Deal With Job Site Delays

June 24, 2020

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I felt like I needed a break from thinking about and talking about the impact of COVID-19 and the quarantine measures that we are taking — personally and professionally. That said, the topic is at least a little inescapable. For my dealers who’ve still been open […]

featured Image

Effective Troubleshooting, Quarantine, and You

June 10, 2020

Things are weird right now. As I’ve said in other columns, business is still being conducted, just differently. And, I’m sorry to say, at a slower tempo. Some things still need to get done, though. And one of those things is tech support and troubleshooting, whether it’s for an existing installation or a new install […]

featured Image

Keeping in Touch Is More Important Than Ever

May 26, 2020

If you’re still working, as I am, you’ve already discovered that you need to work differently — in a few different ways. As the Zen expression goes, “this understanding applies to all things.” Face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past, one of which we did “before.” To be completely honest, the two things I […]

featured Image

Effective Cold Calling During a Plague

May 7, 2020

You may have heard by now that we’re all dealing with social distancing and travel restrictions as a result of the official response to COVID-19. Some things may start to reopen soon, but I don’t think we can count on anything going back to business as usual for quite awhile. If you’re still working, as […]

featured Image

Online Training During Quarantine: Some Tips

April 23, 2020

The current situation with COVID-19 is forcing us to adapt and do things differently — in multiple ways. We may only have to change for now — but maybe longer. In any case, we should be prepared for any adjustments that may come our way. The business landscape right now is strange. Many of my […]

featured Image

What to Do While Quarantined

April 8, 2020

Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan. I had all these marketing plans prepared to work with my dealers during this quarter. Then the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. As they say on the internet, “Well, that escalated quickly!” Most of my dealer base shut down. Some are still operating, mostly the ones who have contracts […]

featured Image

What Do You Have Lined Up: Structuring Your Sales Funnel

March 25, 2020

If you’ve spent any time in sales within a professional setting, your boss has likely asked you, “What do you have lined up?” In some workplaces, it’s an informal check-in where your boss wants to know what you’re working on, or for you to give him or her an idea of upcoming project scheduling and, […]

featured Image

What’s Holding You Back?

March 11, 2020

Whether you’re working on improving yourself personally or professionally, it’s essential to have the ability to be introspective and analytical, in order to identify what you need to work on. That’s also true when you’re coaching others. In that, self-improvement has a lot in common with troubleshooting systems and equipment at work: Diagnose, Analyze, Repair, […]

featured Image

Should You Service What You Didn’t Sell?

February 25, 2020

There’s an advertising catchphrase that probably dates back to the dawn of advertising: “We service what we sell!” You’ll see it appended as a tagline everywhere from car dealerships to general merchandise retailers. Last week my kitchen fridge died — it was only seven years old. I say “kitchen fridge” to differentiate it from the […]

featured Image

Dealing With Uncertainty in Estimation

February 10, 2020

When planning and estimating, you have to deal with the unknown — this includes both the known-unknowns and the unknown-unknowns, so to speak. Everyone likes clear, concise answers, and at least initially, it’s not always possible for project managers to give them. During the development of the initial scope of a project, it’s difficult, maybe […]

featured Image

Cash Flow and Collecting Your Receivables

January 28, 2020

There’s a saying that I regularly remind myself with. It goes, “If it makes you money, it’s a business. If it costs you money, it’s a hobby.” And while in order to be a business you need to have products and services that people want, it’s no less necessary, more so perhaps, that you get […]

featured Image

My Home Cell Booster Install

January 13, 2020

One of my favorite aphorisms says that “every solution has two problems.” This understanding applies to all things. We moved into a new home in a new neighborhood. It’s right on the edge of the city. At least for now, until the fields south of here get developed too. A consequence of this being a […]

featured Image

Deciding On Estimation Methods

December 20, 2019

In the previous installment, we took an overview of estimating and examined some of the basic concepts. Building off of that, it’s time to dig in with a little more detail and provide some context about selecting which methods to apply when you need to develop an estimate. One estimation technique I didn’t go into […]

featured Image

Introduction to Estimating

December 10, 2019

There are any number of things that make big projects different from little projects. The first one that comes to mind, for me, anyway, is that while small projects are typically billed out at time and materials, large projects are more often subject to being quoted out and that requires estimating what the job will […]

featured Image

Making a Commitment to Training

November 22, 2019

It’s a reasonable expectation that in order for someone to be able to do well at their job, they need training. Following that, it should also be understood that training isn’t a one-shot deal: You don’t just enroll in whatever relevant course, program or certification, complete it and then spend the rest of your work […]

featured Image

Striving For Leadership Rather Than Management

November 15, 2019

Whether working with, consulting for, or even just talking to managers and principals of small AV companies — while they can have unique features about them — broadly speaking they’re more similar than they are different. One of the most common similarities is that the principal or general manager of an AV company needs to […]

featured Image

Gantt Charts Are The Best Charts: Part 3

October 25, 2019

In the previous installment, I had promised to discuss making adjustments to the timeline as the project progresses. When it comes to project planning it’s important to be rigid yet flexible. While that sounds contradictory, just think of it as being Zen. (Editor’s note: See Part 1 of Lee Distad’s series on the almighty Gantt […]

featured Image

Structuring Your AV Sales Funnel

October 10, 2019

If you’ve spent any time in sales in a professional setting, you’re likely to have had your boss ask you, “What do you have lined up?” In some work environments, it’s an informal check-in where your boss wants to know what you’re working on, to give him an idea of upcoming project scheduling and, more […]

featured Image

The Full Meal Deal

September 23, 2019

What most often differentiates the AV pros who have the best reputations from the ones who, well… don’t is their ability to craft a complete experience for their clients. Accomplishing that requires a balance between the expertise needed to craft a well-designed system, the skills necessary to install it on time and on budget, but […]

featured Image

Troubleshooting in Review

September 9, 2019

I know I’m a little late celebrating Robbie Burns Day, which was at the end of January, but a line from one of his famous poems is a good intro to this column: “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft a-gley.” What he meant was: “Things go wrong.” It’s a reality of […]

featured Image

Gantt Charts Are The Best Charts: Part 2

August 20, 2019

In the first installment, I had mentioned that Gantt charts used to take up an entire wall. That meant that they weren’t mobile, which required team meeting to be planned in the office where the Gantt chart lives. Now, with software solutions, you can take your project’s Gantt chart with you and your team can […]

featured Image

Gantt Charts Are The Best Charts: Part 1

August 12, 2019

There are some topics that get all the attention in the trade media. That’s usually because the subject is exciting or novel. Mostly those topics are product-related and form a constellation of gushing puff-pieces when exciting new products are launched. That’s not to say that every article about a new product is exciting. I once […]

featured Image

Prepping For Your Installs With Redundancy

July 22, 2019

I got a call from one of my dealers this week. That’s not unusual, someone calls me every day. That’s part of my job. “Lee, I have a problem.” — that was how the call began. What had happened was that he had driven out to a jobsite to install one of our cell boosters […]

featured Image

What Matters When Selecting New Products

July 12, 2019

I’ve talked before about how my inbox is deluged every day with unsolicited product pitches — and most of them are garbage. I’m reminded on a daily basis of two key aphorisms. The first is Sturgeon’s Law: that 80% of everything is crap. The other, courtesy of tech entrepreneur James Altucher, is that “95% of […]

featured Image

Building Resilience Into Your Schedule

June 26, 2019

It’s important to be resilient. In this context, that means being prepared for the worst. Everyone knows Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And there are others like, “The first casualty of every battle is the plan,” or “Every solution has two problems,” and of course, “You don’t need to go […]

featured Image

Details and Communication

June 5, 2019

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 […]

featured Image