I recently had maintenance done on my car at a new repair shop, replacing the alternator and water pump. The interior of the car was a bit of mess when I brought it in, the detritus of two young kids littering the floor and the back seat. You can image my shock when I got the car back and it was spotless—the shop had completely vacuumed the interior, leaving it in better shape than I gave it to them. When I checked under the hood, I found that they did the same there, cleaning up the dirt and stains that inevitably occur.
I was really excited to find a shop that not only made the client-facing parts clean (the interior), but also had the pride of workmanship to clean and spiff up where most customers will never look: under the hood. I take the same pride of workmanship into my jobs and instill it in my installers and technicians. This manifests itself in three main ways.
Job Site: Like my auto mechanic, on retrofits I’ll often leave a job site cleaner than I found it. Even though we are meticulous about putting down paper and plastic, when the job is over, we will still vacuum and Swiffer the floors, wipe down all surfaces, clean all electronic screens and wash the windows. In some instances, we will even straighten up some of the kids’ toys so when the client comes home they get the “wow” factor of a picture-perfect room
Look at the showrooms of some premier players in the industry: Crestron, URC, Savant—all of their racks are on display to showcase the design aesthetic of a beautifully constructed, organized, and wired rack, for everyone to see.
Racks: It used to be that on all of our jobs racks were something to be hidden away under the stairs, in a mechanical room, etc. But more and more often, clients are seeing how cool a well-done rack can look, and they want to show it off. The doors of the rack come off so it can be displayed with or without them, however the client prefers to show it off. Just look at the showrooms of some premier players in the industry: Crestron, URC, Savant—all of their racks are on display to showcase the design aesthetic of a beautifully constructed, organized, and wired rack, for everyone to see. This is where careful planning of the layout and the use of blank plates is important. I love to use blank plates because it fills in any spaces and makes the rack look tighter and more pristine.
Wire Management: This one is for the installer, just like under the hood was for the mechanic. Although the client may never see it, I want the back of every rack to look pristine, with perfectly run wire, bundled just so, all zip-tied to lacers and wire management bars. Again, I am often more proud of the back of the rack than I am the fuller.
As with everything in life and in business, it’s the little things that set you apart in a crowd. What we do is challenging and often jobs only last a few days. We are often scrambling to get out the door and move on to the next job. I insist that my teams must go the extra mile to ensure they leave an immaculate job site, and I always ensure the rack looks just as good. Clients may never look at the back the of the rack, but if they do, I want them to be as impressed with it as I was when I took a peak under the hood of my car.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.