You can build on top of anything, but if you want your structure to last, you must first have a solid foundation. Short cuts will only lead to cracks in the walls or ultimately to the demise of building.
Is your company built on a solid foundation? Are there cracks in your walls? Do you ever feel like your business is built as a house of cards and with one swift gust the entire system could collapse?
Many of us custom installers may not have a show room, but hopefully you still have a place of business. How is your current business infrastructure? Not the walls themselves, but the figurative “structure?” For example, our email has been a consistent source of pain. We have attempted to keep up with our growth, but our system still has been failing. In the last few years we had to upgrade to make sure everyone could receive email via smart phones and it works, but not well. In multiple cases, my email will not even get to its destination and this is unacceptable. So, we’re upgrading again. My email will be down for a day, and I’m sure I’ll be forced to learn a new thing or two, but afterwards, it will be better. Our system will be built on a much more reliable framework and when we grow again, we’ll be ready. Our foundation will be supported.
How is your in-house network? Do you use the same networking products you’re selling? Are you able to fix any issues that have arisen? Same theory goes for your AV distribution, especially in your showroom. We have begun to upgrade our set-up using Atlona products to distribute the audio/video throughout our 20-plus in-store TVs. URC’s Total Control runs our store; it is set on a timer so that the store turns itself on and off. If we have to change the time, it can be adjusted by our sales staff. Want to change a song or a playlist? It is done through the system. This way if there are bugs, we work them out before they’re installed in the clients’ home.
Building the Right Foundation for Your Clients
The same set of rules applies to your clients’ digital infrastructure. Sure, you could cut a few corners to be a few dollars less than the competition, but I promise you, this will come back to haunt you (as anyone who has ever purchased an inexpensive HDMI balun can attest.) I cannot express enough to how important it is to have a solid, robust product line up that allows you to construct your systems the best way. Skimping will only hurt you in the end and eventually will erode away your profits.
Take a little more time to sell the right products upfront rather than be caught with the wrong ones in the end (when you’ll be wasting time and money fixing problems). This won’t always be easy, as you’ll lose a job here and there to those doing the wrong thing, but I assure you that it will pay off in the end (and you’ll sleep better, as a result).
Building a solid foundation in your business and for your clients is the only way to grow strong without fear of collapsing. Taking the easy way out is a sure to end it all in one fell swoop. Can’t we all recall a company that grew too fast and fell hard, or one that went away by taking a shortcut (such as not paying taxes)?
Once the foundation is there you can focus on the strength of the business moving forward. Taking time to master the structure and the framework will allow you to build a strong enterprise able to withstand the test of time and keep you poised for the successes of the future.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.