Not long ago, while on LinkedIn, I had a brief but interesting exchange that made me stop and think. A seemingly innocuous post and an ensuing comment by a connection on the platform generated an internal dialogue that I’m not sure I’ve completely resolved. I share it here because it may not only have ramifications for how I think about my own business, but it may for others as well.
The post in question concerned the subject of acoustics in commercial spaces. I was lamenting the number of times clients had called me to help “fix” sound or noise issues in offices, retail environments, meeting spaces, etc., that could have been addressed far more efficiently during the construction or design phases. Engaging the services of an acoustics specialist at the outset of a new construction can help mitigate problems that generally rear their heads just after the walls are up and the paint has dried. Ironically though, acoustics and sound transmission seem to be an afterthought, if that at all. If only more architects and general contractors would keep these critical factors in mind and plan for them at the origin, there would be far fewer instances of needing to “fix” problems with band-aid solutions.
Shortly after posting my little rant, a connection of mine commented that, while it may seem frustrating when architects and contractors don’t give serious thought to acoustics and sound transmission, it eventually creates business opportunities for the acoustics integrators who will later be called to come and “fix” the problems. So I shouldn’t complain because ultimately, their ignorance gets companies like mine more work!
I have to admit — I felt like a moron in that moment. He was so right! Why should I be complaining? If someone else’s mistake gets me more business, then shouldn’t I strive to cheer on the ignorance of the architects, contractors and designers who don’t have the forethought to think of the acoustics problems they are creating? But on the heels of that came a conflicting voice in my head — “No,” it said. I actually AM bothered by the notion of builders that don’t engage companies like mine to correctly design the space because mine is not a company that only performs “fixes.” My company consults on initial acoustic design and planning. We could be called in at the beginning just as easily as we could be called in after the fact. We could perform either job.
The obvious next part of this internal dialogue is to weigh the revenue on each end and see which jobs net more profit — the initial consulting or the band-aid consulting. But let’s assume for a moment that the revenue and margins are relatively equal. Why is it then, that I and so many like me in the AV industry long for a world in which these jobs are performed correctly from the outset?
It was not hard to reach a conclusion here. As a straight up, honest AV guy, my gut feeling is that it comes down to what’s best for the client. And as the specialist, I know that if my ultimate goal is for the end results to exceed the customer’s expectations, then preventing acoustics issues from the beginning is a far superior option to addressing them less effectively later on.
I’m sure all of the installers reading this can relate to some experience in the past where they came upon a less-than-stellar installation job that was performed by someone else. Without a doubt, there was some grumbling about the fact that it should have been done properly the first time. And although I’m sure that the integrators were happy to have the work, the end result in that situation will never be ideal.
At the end of the day, for AV installer/integrators, our product is our work. We strive for customer satisfaction. We pride ourselves on the jobs we do and the ability to leave a site with a working solution that makes our clients happy — or better yet, elated. It makes sense financially, but also morally and ethically. So when we see work that isn’t up to par or was not the best option for the client to begin with, we will still grumble and complain, even if it wasn’t our own doing. Consider it client-provider sympathy.
Circling back to that LinkedIn post, I realized that my acoustics rant didn’t need to be justified on a financial or business level. It comes down to honest, straightforward business practices. I’d rather work on the project at the outset and make sure that the client receives the best possible solution from the beginning, regardless of how much money I could make down the line with a less effective solution.
I’d like to believe that other AV providers out there feel the same. But maybe I’m wrong. I’d love to hear what others think about this. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn (where this all began), and I’d be happy to continue discussing this or any other topic. Grumbling and complaining are welcome!