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How to Make Money Every Day as a Custom Integrator

What’s your goal today? Is it to make money or just to stay busy? One of my biggest fears is to work, just to work. I don’t want to sell jobs to make just enough money to get to the next job. How can we avoid this?

What’s your goal today? Is it to make money or just to stay busy? One of my biggest fears is to work, just to work. I don’t want to sell jobs to make just enough money to get to the next job. How can we avoid this? 

We can make sure that we’re making money every day. This is a tough industry, and some days if feels like every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they can do it themselves. Then add on the big-box stores selling the same products trying to force prices down. Making money can feel like an uphill battle.

Here are five tips to make sure you’re making money every day, starting with the person that walks into your showroom all the way to the install.

Sell Better Stuff: When Sony decided to sell to Wal-Mart they, in essence, created a product line for them. Can you price match that line? Yes, but why would you? Why fight for that sale? When a potential client walks into our showroom we inform them that we hand pick the flat panels they see on display. We explain that our goal is to make sure their dollar is best spent.

Think of the last car you purchased. Did you buy the lowest line with no add-on features? I find that the average person isn’t looking for the bottom of the barrel, but they’re also not looking for the “Cadillac” (some are – but not most). They want the best “bang for their buck.” Tell them why you don’t carry makes/models of certain flat panels. You’ll be selling them something better, making more money, and creating a happier client.

Charge for Everything That You Use: When your installers go out on an install, are you really charging for everything that they use? Some parts are easy—the TV, the mount, HDMI cable—but what about the smaller parts? Did you run power? Did you use a plate? Run new RG6 for the cable box? Are you charging for these smaller items? Sure, they may not cost much, but if you’re doing 200 installs a year, a few dollars per job can add up quickly! Make sure you’re charging for what you do and what you use.

Motivate Your Installers to Sell: Do you do estimates for your clients? What is the incentive for your installer to suggest a $400 remote that he/she has to program vs. suggesting a $100 IR kit? What would make them recommend a surround sound system vs. a soundbar? It is important for your installers to be part of the sales team. They should know what the company makes money on, and there should be incentive for them to make sure the client is getting the best solution.

Don’t Sell What Everybody Else Sells: Another way to get out of the price-matching game is to make sure that you’re not selling what everyone is selling. I know this is unavoidable in some cases, but if all the other custom integrators in your area are selling Sonos, maybe you pick up Nuvo’s new wireless system. In our area we have a lot of dealers selling Control4, so we sell URC’s Total Control. This allows us a unique angle and takes out the price when quoting against another company.

Keep Your Business Balanced: If you’re always installing and never quoting then you’ll have no business tomorrow. Be a gardener—always be planting seeds for tomorrow’s business. I am happiest when my “quoted” list consists of jobs for next week (the quick close) and some for months out (the long close). This means I know I can be making money next week and later this year.

By making a few simple tweaks to our everyday business practices, we can all live in a “happy place.” As the saying goes, work smarter not harder. Let’s make the most of our days and make sure we’re getting paid for it. What do you do every day to ensure you’re making money? Let me know in the comment section below.

Heather L. Sidorowicz
is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.