Wiring Then And Now

It feels like a million years ago that pulling wire in residential installations almost exclusively meant speaker wire. AV pros who’ve been around long enough have seen a lot of changes since then. And at the risk of sentimentality or applying too much nostalgia to the past, the changes that have come and gone in […]

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With Broadcast Boxes, It’s Always Two Steps, Forward Three Steps Back

The tech media never lets up with thinkpieces about cord cutters and the imminent dire future for broadcast TV providers. Yet we’ve been reading these pronouncements for years now. And the broadcast landscape has changed a lot in that time. Whether it’s for better or worse is probably a matter of opinion. I’ll concede that […]

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Where Have All The Sales Reps Gone?

I just spent a week road tripping in the wilds of northern Alberta. That, in itself, is not unusual for me. I do it all the time. What made it different this time was that I had cajoled the Canadian sales manager for the biggest brand we distribute to ride with me. My main objective […]

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Dealing With RFQs, Part 2

In the prior installment, I had begun detailing the Request For Quote process, and my observations on them. And by “observations on them,” what I really mean is my cynical outlook on them. Don’t get me wrong, jumping through the RFQ hoops set out by organizational procurement managers can be a tedious and unrewarding exercise. […]

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Dealing With RFQs

Anybody who sells into commercial, industrial or institutional channels has to deal with Requests For Quotes. A request for quotation (abbreviated as RFQ) is how large organizations invite vendors to bid on systems, services or individual products. For AV pros, quotations on systems and services are the most common. Additionally, what’s asked for the in […]

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When High Voltage Meets Low Voltage, Are There Sparks?

The relationships between the various trades on a jobsite form a complex web of inter-dependencies. The two that are arguably the closest are the electrician and the AV pro. That makes sense, since on even small AV jobs the AV pro needs to specify locations and load capacities for the electrical outlets required for the […]

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Proper Processes Produce Predictable Projects

Just the other day I was involved in a discussion with long-time AV industry people. One of the complaints leveled at the channel as a whole was that overall, the barriers to entry are low: At the most basic level, all anyone needs is a set of tools, a vehicle, and small lines of credit […]

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Client Management Is Just the Beginning 

At a typical AV company, the sales designers and sometimes the project managers are the front office people that the clients know and work with. They’re the ones that the clients ask for when they call, the ones they look to answer their questions, solve their problems and reassure them that everything is going according to […]

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The Next Big Thing 

There’s that aphorism that if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got. But that’s not really true in this business. In our business, if you always do what you always did, with each passing year you’ll get less than you did before. Looking at the overall landscape of my dealer […]

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So You Have a Recall

Late last year, I got to have a front row seat for a major product recall from one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers. Well, maybe it’s not accurate to say I had a front row seat –more like, as a distributors’ rep, I was on the sharp end of the stick, having to manage […]

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AV Companies and the Threat of New Entrants

In recent editorials, I’ve been going over Porter’s Five Forces and putting them into context for businesses of the AV business. To review, here are the Five Forces: Threat of new entrants Threat of substitutes Bargaining power of customers Bargaining power of suppliers Industry rivalry For this installment, I want to discuss the threat of […]

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Why Certifications Matter

Professional AV companies have a selection of certifications they can qualify for, from industry trade associations like InfoComm and CEDIA, to product category-specific certifications from major vendors like Crestron or AMX or the Imaging Sciences Foundation and so on. How important is it for you and your people to be certified? Granted, many municipalities require […]

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Three Things You Need To Do To Grow Your Sales

Making generalities are useful when establishing guidelines. In general, if you work with enough business owners and managers, and review the performance of their teams, you’ll see commonalities and trends. And, speaking generally, comparable businesses in the same channel have more in common than they are different. One of the most common of those commonalities is […]

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Staying in Control

AV install professionals like to see themselves as completely different from the mass-market consumer electronics retailers. Exterior details may vary from upscale retail storefront, or by-appointment-only showrooms and they take pains to present an impeccable image of expertise and professionalism that sets them apart from the look and feel of a big box store. The […]

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Having Your Head In The Game For Troubleshooting

While everybody has an important role to play, it can be argued that the most important part of AV company are the techs. It’s important that everyone, sales, design, project management, programming and support do exemplary work that their job, but If the install and service techs aren’t an A-List team, none of the rest […]

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Dealer and Vendor Relationships and Stock Balancing 

Stock balancing, simply, is the dealer returning unsold inventory to their supplier. The underlying motivation in stock balancing is to free up dollars that are tied up in slow moving inventory in order to purchase new stock that the dealer plans to turn over quicker than the slow moving stock. It’s typical for dealers to arrange a […]

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Town Mouse, Country Mouse and the AV Business

I have what I consider to be an advantage in my job. I’m responsible for a business territory that covers 661,848 km², larger than Montana and Wyoming put together. And because of the oil and gas sector, I get to travel to most of it. As a result of the impact that oil and gas […]

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Should Distributors Sell To End Users?

Everybody likes to make money, and see their business grow. That’s hard to dispute. When business is slow, it’s entirely natural to seek new business partners, both inside your channel as well as out. But how far should one go, and how far is too far? When searching for growth opportunities, the guiding question should […]

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Acquiring and Managing Competitive Information

Nobody’s business operates in a vacuum. Your company is surrounded by a network of clients, vendors, collaborators and competitors. Everyone in that network has their own challenges that they’re dealing with. Some of it won’t impact you and some of it will. The key is to maintain awareness of the world outside your own little […]

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Is Your Client Care As Good As You Think It Is?

With the holiday season upon us, I’m reminded of a predicament I found myself in a couple of years ago. A friend of my parents planned a combination holiday party and Trailer Park Boys marathon. I remain mystified by the obsession my parents and their peers, doctors, judges, university administrators and similar, have with watching […]

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Fewer Customers, More Money

I wanted to use that title, so I’m going to break my moratorium on too many editorials with too many Jerry McGuire references too close together. While the business climate seems to be slowly improving, I have yet to talk to anyone in the various channels of the AV and CE business who’s told me […]

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The Key To This Business

Like Dickey Fox said in Jerry Maguire, “The key to this business is *claps hands* personal relationships!” Regardless of how fantastic their products are, vendor sales reps need to understand that the personal relationship they build with their dealers can be the make or break factor in how much business they get, or if they […]

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Someone Call Security

Recent experiences have brought security installations to the forefront of my thinking. Security subsystems are something that AV pros have polarizing opinions on. Some don’t mind handling them, some do so only grudgingly, and others won’t touch them. Like everything, when deciding whether to do security at all there are pros and cons. The most […]

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Tales Of Install Nightmares: A Post-Mortem

I’ve written a lot of columns that can categorized as either “How To Not Screw Up” or “Someone Screwed Up And Here’s How It Got Fixed.” It’s not lost on me that sometimes it sounds like I’m moralizing, and that feels awkward. Heaven knows I’ve made my share of mistakes — probably more than my […]

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Dealer Locators: What Are They Good For?

I think we can all agree that, in principle, it’s a great idea for vendors and manufacturers to maintain a “FIND A DEALER” database on their website. It’s a splendid idea — in principle. It will pre-qualify interested prospective customers who’ve been doing their research and funnel them towards resellers or installing dealers in their […]

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Stop Worrying And Love Your Local Big Box Dealers

Big box retailers are like the weather: We all like to complain about them, but none of us ever do anything about them. But as entertaining as it is to hate them, and make jokes at their expense, the relationship between big box retail and boutique professional firms is nuanced and complex. The business practices […]

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Delivering Effective Presentations

Over the years, I have sat through what sometimes feels like an endless procession of training sessions. Some were great, and some were less so. As the great wheel of existence turns, now other people have to sit through my vendor training sessions. It’s my expectation, whether I’m receiving or presenting, that in return for […]

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The Shortest Distance Between Two Points

Although it’s verity has long since been debunked, there’s a popular adage about how during the height of the Cold War and the Space Race, NASA spent millions developing a ballpoint pen that could write in zero gravity, while Soviet Cosmonauts just used a pencil. Regardless, the moral of the story as I’ve always applied […]

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Yet Another LED Lighting Update

It just occurred to me that I haven’t bored updated rAVe readers the state of my light-bulb quest since November of last year. No time like the present, I always say. Last time I checked in on my efforts to switch my home over to LED lighting, the grand total sat at 58% LED, with […]

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Succession Planning: It Isn’t Just For Royalty

Some business topics get all the headlines, and get written and rewritten over and over. Yet others receive very little attention, even though they can be as important, or even more important than the hot topics of the day. Succession planning is kind of managerial task that company owners and general managers roll their eyes […]

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Employment Musical Chairs Is Never A Good Idea

Hiring is tough. And like a lot of tough tasks, no one really likes to do it. I have a suspicion that the reason human resources departments exist at all is because managers hate hiring, and some manager somewhere hated hiring so much that he delegated someone else to do it all. But I digress. […]

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Antifragility And Systemic Risk in the Custom Install Market

I get ribbed a lot over what one of my friends calls my “hate-crush” on Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who, if you don’t know is the author of Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable and Antifragile: Things That Gain […]

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