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7 Pros and Cons of Adding Commercial AV to Your Business

More and more residential companies are adding commercial audio video to their mix, and there are some very good reasons why. There are also reasons why they should remain separate beasts.

Texas-based integrators iEvolve Technology, whose work is about 80 percent residential, outfitted the 80,000-square-foot office of Omni Flow Computers with a control system from RTI. 
InfoComm is only a few weeks away, and if you have not experienced this show, place it on your bucket list. More and more residential companies are adding commercial audio video to their mix, and there are some very good reasons why. There are also reasons why they should remain separate beasts.

1) Each dollar isn’t as personal. In the residential world each dollar is important which equates to more conversation about each product and each price. In the commercial sector, I have found it is more about trust and responsibility. Surely you need to provide them the right price, but each dollar is not as intimate.

2) Getting paid is easier. Getting paid in commercial land is sometimes easier than getting paid in the residential world. However, if you are working with state entities and certain other large organizations, they may not give deposits and terms can be anywhere from 30 to 90 days. If you do not have a nice nest egg that can take the hit while, say, purchasing 25 grand in new 4K models for your residential showroom, then your business can end up in hot water. So watch those numbers and be careful.

3) Designs are more repeatable. If you find a great solution for your local gym, you can call other gyms in the area and let them know. Each place is not as individual, which allows you to find the right solutions and stick with them. Design. Install. Repeat.

4) Less ‘wow’ factor. There is nothing cooler than the first time you fire up that freshly calibrated home theater system for a client and play a kick-ass demo for them. Their grin is ear-to-ear, and their happiness factor is through the roof. It gives you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. You typically won’t find that in the corporate world. Often, there will be just someone that is overly busy who wants to rush through the training. It is a different experience for installers.

5) Clients are more public. We pride ourselves on never speaking our clients name in or out of the office without their permission. Our company has code names for many of our high-end customers in the case we find ourselves around others. In the commercial world, it is more common to be able to mention the client by name and do a bit of bragging. If it is a big name company, it is okay to do a bit of name-dropping (without boasting!).

6) Turnaround times are slower. Because commercial jobs take different kinds of planning, you may find it harder to fill in the gaps. With residential you can sometimes get a call and go out the same day (not my favorite way to do business, but sometimes fills a void). The game is longer in corporate America, so it will take better scheduling to fill your calendar—especially during the lulls.

7) After-hours calls are fewer. Resi demands more showroom hours typically, especially if you are in the flat panel market. This involves weekends and late evenings as well as panicked weekend calls from time to time (“We have 50 people coming over tonight and our sound system doesn’t turn on!”) Sure, there are meetings and large commercial events, and you will get the typical, “the system is broken” calls, but there are fewer of those on weekends and, evenings, and holidays, for sure.

Jumping into the commercial world should not be taken lightly, but with some research (like attending InfoComm) and planning it can be a great addition to your business portfolio. It adds diversity and being an expert on both sides can be a benefit to your clients and your pocketbook.

Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.