The Challenge of Brand Protection

Manufacturers and distributors aren’t just responsible for growing their brands’ business and market share — they’re also responsible for maintaining their brands’ image and position in the marketplace, as well as supporting the best interests of their dealers. Products deserve to be sold for what they’re worth, and dealers who support the brand deserve to […]

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Always Something With the Cable Company

Even now, in the age of cord-cutting, the cable guy from the cable company still has opportunities to vex the work of AV pros. When I say “cable guy,” I mean to encompass not only the installers, but the customer support personnel in the call center. 
I’m sure that cable company personnel are all hardworking […]

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Frightened Salespeople Are Terrible Salespeople

In a meeting last week with the senior management at one of my biggest clients, they shared with me a metric that was frustrating them. Their retail sales associates, as a whole, are incapable of getting attachment sales of any accessory that costs more than $50. Management can see it in the numbers: in the […]

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Best Behavior On The Jobsite

I made a blog post recently about dressing appropriately for the workplace, and Leonard Suskin left a comment about one of his pet peeves: Technicians who wear rock concert t-shirts and grubby jeans on jobsites. He’s right, of course. That got me to thinking about professionalism, and what constitutes professional conduct on the job site. […]

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Better Fleet Management for AV Pros

It’s been my repeated observation over the years from getting to know AV pros all over Canada and the United States that AV pros, regardless of where they’re located, have more in common with each other than they have differences. That applies to both the people who make a career out of the AV business, […]

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Schadenfreude and the Art of Fixing Other People’s Mistakes

Clients left in the lurch by AV pros who had no business ever calling themselves an AV pro in the first place is a very real issue in this business. As AV pros, we often feel a sense of schadenfreude (perverse joy at someone else’s misery) when looking at pictures of botched projects. I know […]

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Service Efficiencies: Don’t Roll A Truck Twice

Time is money, and, for that matter, money is money. Everything your company does needs to focus on making the best use of both. Efficiency is everything, not just in project design and installation, but in after-install service as well. Your service techs need to follow processes and function as efficiently as your installers do. […]

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Product Review: StarTech Bluetooth Audio Receiver With NFC

I’ve always found myself drawn to and interested in problem solving devices, and sometimes I find them more interesting than larger pieces of equipment, like loudspeakers and video displays. The BT2A Bluetooth audio receiver from Lockburne, Ohio-based manufacturer StarTech is intended to turn any audio output device like amplifiers or integrated receivers into a Bluetooth-compatible […]

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Apple TV Gaming and Integration

This month Apple lifted the curtain on its new Apple TV, dubbed, oddly enough, The New Apple TV. Since then, many of us in the AV business and media have spent time parsing the specifications, guessing at the hints Apple has dropped about its capabilities, and pondering the implications it’s going to have on living […]

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The Only Article On Accounts Insurance You Need To Read

As a consequence of not being as compelling a story as things like the latest development in display technologies, something that almost never gets talked about in the trade media is receivables insurance. In fact, I’d even suggest that articles on install processes and white papers on esoteric control system concepts get more press. As […]

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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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Daily Productivity Management For AV Pros

Although it’s not my focus these days, I still frequently get asked to coach and train salespeople. It’s not always sales skills that I’m asked to coach either. Personal growth means working on your weaknesses, and not every salesperson needs more sales training. A little while ago I was asked to provide some coaching for […]

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Trying New Things Without Disaster

In the past, I’ve talked about problem solving and how much AV pros love to do it. I also cautioned against being so fond of problem solving that you subconsciously engineer situations where you can swoop into the middle of a crisis and be the hero. After all, as I pointed out, the only thing […]

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Get Out Of Your Box

Some time ago,  Mark Coxon wrote a compelling editorial entitled “Stay in Your Box” and other Bad Ideas. Mark did his usual great job, and compelled me to want to build on his thesis: that it’s imperative to challenge yourself with taking on new directions. Looking back, the cognitive framework that makes the most sense […]

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Review: Sengled Boost Wi-Fi LED Bulb

A few weeks back, I wrote an overview of Sengled’s new Boost, a combination LED bulb and Wi-Fi extender. At the time the product was just announced, and wasn’t yet available. Once it became available, Sengled was kind enough to furnish me with a unit in order to do an actual product review. To recap, […]

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The Value Of Ongoing Training

When business owners think about education and training for their employees, the most obvious reason for training is to equip employees with the necessary skills and abilities to perform their job to a minimum standard of competence. But there are more important reasons than that, not least of which is the ability to excel, and […]

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Vendor Spotlight: SupplyStream

If there’s a single word that summarizes what AV dealers need, it’s this one: efficiency. Dealers need to have efficient installation, efficient project management, and most of all efficient back office processes. Time, after all, is money. It’s one thing to say it, it’s a lot harder to achieve. Seeing an opportunity to help dealers […]

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Builders Don’t Like You

Like any business, AV pros face many challenges. Margins, product availability deadlines — all the ones you might expect. I want to focus on just one for this column: Your prospective customers don’t like you. This is not a challenge that’s unique to the AV channel by any means. I don’t like car dealerships, their […]

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Lighting Control and Automation — A Boon for AV Pros

When people think of automation, they tend to still think in terms of AV control: TV on, volume up, channel selected, etc. Oddly, despite the fact that control of shades and lighting is, in my opinion, the essence of automation, it remains semi-forgotten. It’s probably a disservice to say that. Plenty of vendors have offered […]

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Gaming: Here Come the Steam Machines

  It finally appears that momentum for Valve’s plans to take over gamers’ living rooms appears to be picking up, ahem, steam. For two years now, gamers have been teased with promises of Steam Machines, dedicated gaming consoles for Valve’s Steam online gaming services. The strategy involves partnering with hardware companies to offer a range […]

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Serviceability At The Forefront

If you survey a broad sampling of veteran AV pros you’ll find that they’re united by a common trait: They’re all really good at problem solving. In fact, the best ones love problem solving. There’s a rush that comes from finding a solution and being able to yell out “I FIXED IT!” Call it natural […]

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Don’t Be A J.A. Vendor

There’s a blight that affects every last segment and channel in the industry. It’s so prevalent, so part of the background that, like the sky, you take it for granted and stop really noticing it unless you step back and refocus your perception. It’s a blight that’s holding the entire industry back, regardless of which […]

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CFL Light Bulbs Can’t Go Away Fast Enough

One of my favorite axioms (and if you’re a regular reader you know that I LOVE axioms) came to me from engineer friends. I find it incredibly apt for many scenarios, not least to AV install and design. The axiom is: “Every solution has two problems.” AV pros need to remind themselves that their equipment […]

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Review: Gefen High Resolution USB to Analog and Digital Audio Decoder

I’m an audiophile, but I’m a frugal audiophile. As delightful as big-ticket stereo equipment is, my Scots heritage and its accompanying frugality informs my preferences. In short, I get thrilled by equipment that delivers best bang for the buck. Gefen is best known as a maker of video dongles for a variety of streaming and […]

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What Are The Advantages Of Buying From Distributors?

Regardless of whether you’re a residential or commercial AV company your clients needs products, and you need to get them from somewhere. Broadly speaking, your two most common options are to deal directly with the manufacturer, or a distributor. Since nothing in this business is ever simple, some manufacturers only sell to dealers directly, others […]

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Never Mind Smart Wiring: How About Wiring Smart?

Wiring is the foundation of AV installation. Without that foundation, everything else that follows is on shaky ground. As fundamental as it seems, it’s too important to take for granted. It’s worth looking at the nuances of home run and series wiring, and their respective applications, as well as how to most effectively estimate wiring […]

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It’s Almost December — Are You Prepared?

In the time that I’ve been in distribution, it’s been a mental adjustment for me to get used to the fact that, on my side of the business at least, December is a low-key month. Indeed, in direct contrast to all the previous years, I don’t have to work very hard in December. I don’t […]

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A Review of SurgeX SEQ Power Bank and Envision PCS Remote Diagnostic Unit

Serendipity strikes at opportune times. A couple of months back the eleven year old power conditioner connected to the system in my media room died. Shortly after I had blogged at rAVe about the troubleshooting exercise I treated it as, sharing with readers the apathy of the vendor’s help desk towards such an old product, […]

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Smart TVs and How AV Pros Need To Be Smarter Still

I loathe the word “convergence.” For nearly two decades, it’s been a byword that has been beaten to death. Yet for the longest time it was also a word that didn’t deliver the goods: so much talk about convergence, with little to show for it. I’m willing to admit that it’s changed over time and […]

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Product Review: StarTech.com 3-in1 Thunderbolt Adapter

Right up front I’m going to admit that I have a soft spot for widgets and dongles. I blame it on my borderline-obsessive fascination with troubleshooting and problem-solving. If there’s a problem, there needs to be a solution. This is where various widgets and adapters come into play, specifically adapters. StarTech.com’s new 3-in-1 Adapter lets […]

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Weekly Wrap-Up | August 29, 2014

For those of you who don’t know, every Friday we post our Weekly Wrap-Up featuring the top stories from the week. These are the stories we think deserve a second look or a third. This week we are featuring Almo’s E4 AV Tour fall stops in Boston and Washington D.C., a road warrior’s blog post […]

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Lifts And Let Downs

If there has ever been an AV product category that I’ve maintained a love/hate relationship with, it’s motorized TV lifts and mounts. On the plus side of the equation, there are few things cooler than a concealed installation where a flat panel display or projector rises from a tabletop or descends from the ceiling. But […]

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