Luxury Markets Take Discipline

Several years ago we were invited to deliver a talk to the senior class at a local interior design school.
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Three Keys to Finding Consistent High-End AV Integration Success

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Sam Cavitt (samcavitt@medesign.tv) is
president of Paradise Theater in Kihei, Hawaii, and Carlsbad, California.
Several years ago we were invited to deliver a talk to the senior class at a local interior design school. The idea was that these students would benefit by the exposure to specialties related to the design field. The world of home theater was really just hitting its stride and there was a lot of excitement about this new industry. We had a packed house.

As I described the business we were in–creating outstanding performance environments with exquisite décor outfitted with the world’s best and most expensive electronic systems–I noticed two very different reactions. The aspiring young designers were at the edge of their seats; I could almost see their imaginations at work as they visualized the possibilities that this career path could hold. The faculty advisor, on the other hand, stood with his arms folded and narrowed eyes glaring at me.

When we asked for questions, the advisor spoke up. “It seems that you work in an exclusionary industry,” he said. At first I was taken aback. I almost started to apologize but then came to my senses. “Not exclusionary,” I responded, “but certainly exclusive. I have found that I do my best work at the highest end and am most satisfied with my career when I focus on this part of the market.”

I then turned to my audience and stated, “Don’t ever apologize for knowing what you can do and providing excellence for those who are willing to pay for it.”

We ended up with more applications for interns than we could accommodate.

Too often, our industry apologizes for offering excellence and expecting to get paid for it. It is important that we designers, integrators, and individuals with specialized skills and experience know who we are and who we intend to serve. And, if we find we are capable and willing to deliver and serve the elite, then let’s be ok with it.

First of all, take a good look at yourself. What is it you like to do, and what is your expertise? These usually correspond. If you find yourself enjoying the idea of delivering good quality at an affordable price and opening doors to the home theater experience to more and more people, that is a worthy endeavor.

If, however, you enjoy the challenges represented by working in the highest level of performance and expectations, such as represented in the so-called luxury market, this will also require some self-examination and discipline. The following are a few suggestions, gleaned from experience, which are worthy of consideration.

1 Don’t think with your own wallet

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If you enjoy the challenges represented by working in the highest level of performance and expectations, it will require some self-examination and discipline.It is rare that a consultant in our industry has the financial resources that are typical of our clientele. Did a client hire you because they heard that you sell your services and products cheaply? Or, is it because of your reputation and the quality of products and services that you offer? Price is generally not the object for clients seeking luxury products. Performance and satisfaction are, so don’t sell them or yourself short.

2 Don’t believe ‘client intermediaries’

Often, our clients approach us through intermediaries, such as architects, designers, builders, and personal representatives. Sometimes, even though the ultimate client truly wants excellence, directives have been given to these representatives to “get the best deal” and sometimes the intermediary thinks for the client with their wallet. Either way, remember that you have been sought to provide performance, expertise, and excellence to someone that truly has the resources to acquire them. It is up to us to perform due diligence in our discovery and look for flaws in the parameters we are given. Client goals often can be a lot different from those who claim to speak on their behalf.

3 Don’t follow industry trends

Luxury markets are trend resistant. When everyone else is taking a bath, luxury clientele are acquiring. The elite do, however, read the paper and hear the news just like we do and are influenced similarly as well. If we as the service providers to this market succumb to suggestions of “post-recession pricing” we won’t be able to afford to do our best. It takes time, expertise, quality components, and skill to deliver excellence. These attributes come at a price. I can guarantee that the client would not be satisfied with “post-recession quality.”

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