Study Hall

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Why Do AV Systems Integrators Work for Free?

Our knowledge has value, let's not give it away

I have no room to talk, I can’t tell you the countless number of times we have worked as the engineering arm of a project under the hope we will win the job, spending countless time with highly-paid resources designing systems for free.

I’ve spoken before about the price/quality/service triangle. Let’s think about this one a bit more. How about giving up your highest margin product for free?

So in the theme of learning from our mistakes, in business it isn’t whether or not errors are made, it is how we respond to them. Do we define insanity and repeat the mistakes until it destroys our profits and good spirit? Or, do we make the decision that something needs to be done about this and act upon it?

I think the latter is the only option and I want to make some suggestions on how we rectify this age old dilemma.

Time is Money: A business has to recognize this immediately and make sure that resources are working on things that pay.

Create an Engagement: When the customer asks you to do a design, suggest a design engagement (flat fee or hourly)

Real Buyers Get This: Before you tell me that the customer will say no, I suggest a REAL buyer understands the time/money relationship. They will also see the value in ascertaining the information that at very least allows an apple to apple bid.

Closing Incentives: Why not offer the customer an incentive if they buy from you? Deduct or reduce design charges if you get the build out portion?

Perhaps some integrators are already doing this, if for no other reason than to see who is truly serious. But in a plethora of conversations I’ve had with integrator principles around the world, I still hear far more often than not the aforementioned fire drill is just a “cost of doing business.”

Now together let’s repeat, “my knowledge has value, let’s not give it away.” Perhaps if we all stand together on this, our customer community will finally understand that.

Daniel L. Newman currently serves as CEO of EOS, a new company focused on offering cloud-based management solutions for IT and A/V integrators. He has spent his entire career in various integration industry roles. Most recently, Newman was CEO of United Visual where he led all day to day operations for the 60-plus-year-old integrator.

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