Where’s the Total Cost of Ownership?

Where’s the Total Cost of Ownership? If you want buyers to make your brand their choice, manufacturers and systems integrators have got to help decision-makers understand not only the up-front costs but the long-term investment of any technology solution.

Want to know the perfect place to start? The House of Worship (H.O.W.) market. Here’s what’s in it for you — and them.

An Ideal Market for Estimating TCO

The cadence of weekend services means that church venues have the kind of consistent operation that is easy to calculate and estimate total hours of operation weekly and monthly. For most churches, this means once a week operation for a fixed number of hours of uptime. Because this is straightforward, it makes for an easy story to tell so that churches leaders can more accurately predict the initial investment and a good estimate for ongoing maintenance and replacement of any consumables.

The key here, of course, is to educate churches on what they already know to be true anecdotally: Good stewardship means knowing the whole cost before beginning. There’s a famous scripture passage where Jesus himself uses a metaphor of counting the cost before taking on a project. In the Bible, this story is found in the book of Luke 14:28 — “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” The idea of counting the full cost is intrinsic to planning in life and this truth is not lost on church leaders.

The issues many churches face is not that they don’t understand the importance of considering the total cost before beginning a project, but that in the world of audiovisual technology the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is largely unavailable. The closest thing listed on most products is the total life expectancy of the unit or the number of expected hours for a consumable such as a lamp.

While each church is different when it comes to the frequency of using audiovisual tech during weekdays or for multiple services over a weekend, these are variables that are easily asked of church tech staff since by and large, they have patterns of consistent operation that make calculating total usage fairly straightforward.

Good Estimates Make for Good Stewardship

I’ve often talked about the importance of stewardship for churches here on rAVe. After all, these churches are stewarding the resources (money, time, people) donated by congregants. They understand, deeply, the power of good resource allocation.

One of the axioms I share with churches helps frame technology expenditures in a way most of them have never considered, but quickly understand:

“Good stewardship has less to do with how much is saved and more to do with how much is not wasted.” – Anthony Coppedge

The elimination of waste is a high priority when spending donated money. As such, the idea of TCO is one that is simple to sell and actually resonates with church leaders. As a consultant, I’ve learned from and observed many, many churches use of audiovisual technology. Because of this background, most of my recommendations are readily applied out of the abundance of experience in understanding typical product lifetimes, proactive maintenance schedules, and early replacement of consumables to maximize the expenditure.

Churches are not afraid to spend money. They are afraid of spending money poorly.

This means that price is not the most important consideration when the value proposition of a technology solution is properly understood and shared with church leaders making the final purchase decision. When the overall cost of purchasing and maintaining a system is calculated annually or over the lifetime of a component, the ‘cost per service’ is easy to understand.

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TCO Certified by AVIXA?

The need for manufacturers to come up with realistic TCOs for their products is desperately needed. Don’t be afraid of sharing this information, manufacturers, as it may lead you to feel that a TCO makes your gear look too expensive. There is always cost of operation, so be upfront about that and included a recommended proactive maintenance program for your equipment. In fact, this is a golden opportunity to add additional value by offering service programs, loaners and factory-authorized maintenance to clients needing long-term viability of the technology.

Without a shift to create helpful TCO documentation, manufacturers and the systems integrators which sell the gear will continue to have customers venting on social media about the failure of your gear. That’s a hit to your brand that is usually proactively solved with a simple maintenance schedule and helpful updates to firmware, right? So make it easy for them to keep your gear running well and, in turn, keep happy clients happy with your brand.

I actually hope that AVIXA provides helpful recommendations and certifications for companies that create TCO documentation for their equipment. This would help the industry as a whole and provide additional credibility for the brands that have an AVIXA Total Cost of Ownership seal. Sure, it’s just a hopeful and helpful suggestion, but it makes a lot of sense for every vertical market – including churches.

What say you? Share your views and links in the comments below.