Pandora’s Box

September 7, 2011

Tips From an IP Radio Master Help Put the C in CI


Mike “Sparky” Detmer (mdetmer@nilesaudio.com) is president of Niles Audio

Who would have thought that an internet radio service could change the CI business in America? But in many ways Pandora has done just that. The concept of a personalized radio service that plays music selections tailored to individual listener preferences is compelling to virtually everyone that experiences it. Yet it surprises me at how many CI professionals fail to show their clients all the customizable benefits this robust service provides and in turn fail to earn glowing referrals from them in the process.

So to help you deliver awesome experiences for your customers I asked a Pandora master to share his secrets with us. Ric is a principal at Jamieson’s Audio Video in Toledo, a dear friend, and an expert in customer service. Here are a few simple tricks of the trade that Ric uses to amaze his clients:

1) Always sell a distributed entertainment system that includes Pandora radio content capabilities. If you don’t know of any, I’m glad to provide a recommendation.

2) Set up a Pandora account for your client before you go to the job. This way when they use the system for the first time, there are lots of choices to enjoy. Ric suggests setting up 15–20 stations spanning a variety of artists and musical genres. He relayed a story regarding one client whose wife was from India and was so impressed with the Bollywood stations he preprogrammed, that she sent other clients his way.


The concept of a personalized radio service that plays music selections tailored to individual listener preferences is compelling to virtually everyone that experiences it.

Best practice note: Use a form to record the Pandora account settings, and give it to your client. If your client already has a Pandora account, get the information up front to use when you set up the new stations.

3) Ask your client in advance to jot down the names of 10 artists that they love. Create stations for these names plus a few others that everyone knows. Ric suggests having stations for Jack Johnson, The Eagles, and either Michael Buble for younger clients or Frank Sinatra for older ones.

4) Now that you’ve got 10 or 15 stations programmed under artists’ names, make about 10 more that are genre specific. This ensures your client will always be able to choose something that suits their mood without having to pick a specific artist. Many CI professionals forget that the Pandora website allows easy genre selections and station naming. Certainly classic rock, light jazz, and classical will be in the mix. But don’t forget to add a comedy station and as a special surprise, you may want to leave a holiday station behind. You can do this by adding a plus sign and the word holiday behind an artist’s name. So for instance, a station called Diana Krall + Holiday will play jazzy holiday music.

5) During the system demonstration, choose one of the artists your client jotted down to play, and ask your client about other songs or artists they like. Use the “add” feature to include that artist or song into the station that is playing. Do this a few times and save the selection as a new station under the client’s first name using a quote mark in front of the name and an apostrophe “S.” You’ve just created a station specific to your customer’s tastes that will appear first in the list of stations. So my station would come up “SPARKY’S and it would be the first thing I would see.

You’ve probably heard the old sales training adage that people don’t buy drills; they buy holes. And it’s true. Just think if you had stick-on holes to use in place of drills and flex bits. You’d never get a face full of sheetrock again, and you would love the experience of making holes.

In that same vein, clients don’t buy touchscreens and components. They buy entertainment and control. So why not use a few of Ric’s tricks to make your jobs stand out from the norm? Give it a try, and I’m certain you’ll see that when you fine tune your clients’ content, as well as their system functionality, delivering a little more than you promised in the bid, your clients will notice, and your job referrals will grow. Now that’s a truly custom installation.

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