Keeping Your Mind Open

I used to think of SnapAV as not that different from Monoprice. Mark Feinberg of Home Theater Advisors started buying all of his mounts, HDMI extenders, HDMI cables, racks, and other gear from SnapAV. I thought he was crazy, buying what I thought was direct-to-consumer crap, until he let me know how wrong I was.
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Wow, I must really be in a mood for contrition this month. Last week was all about how I have changed my opinion of Sonos and its place in our channel, and this week I’m going to talk about another vendor that I never really gave much thought to, but now find myself turning to more and more.

I used to think of SnapAV as not that different from Monoprice. In fact, I thought they were pretty much the exact same thing, not realizing that Snap was a distributor and only sold to the trade; I thought they were another direct-to-consumer model that was just hurting our channel. Mark Feinberg of Home Theater Advisors started buying all of his mounts, HDMI extenders, HDMI cables, racks, and other gear from SnapAV. I thought he was crazy, buying what I thought was direct-to-consumer crap, until he let me know how wrong I was.

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Snap is a great partner in the channel. It was started from an integration business so it really is “For Dealers, By Dealers.” We have slowly been ramping up our purchasing of products from Snap and have been testing out their Araknis networking gear as a possible replacement for Pakedge in our lineup, in case things start to go sideways with the Control4 acquisition—you can never be too certain of anything in this business!

It isn’t just SnapAV, but it is a great example. I am trying to keep my mind more open to new manufacturers, new suppliers, and new channels. This is an ever-changing and ever-evolving industry and we need to keep our options open. While I always try to keep my business with those manufacturers and partners who treat us well, are well respected in the industry, and with whom we have great interpersonal relationships, there is always the chance that one or more of those situations can change, and you need to be ready to turn on a dime. What if someone goes out of business, or has a manufacturing snafu and cannot ship product in time? You need to have backups and backups to your backups. So while we focus our purchasing with a select few partners, we periodically buy from other sources to keep options open and relationships intact.

Not only does this help with our supply chain, but it also helps us better serve clients. We are not too proud to work on smaller projects, but sometimes those smaller projects require that you work with some legacy gear in the home—maybe remotes, maybe networking gear, maybe an AVR. Having experience and personal relationships with different manufacturing partners can help. If you show up at a home and the client has RTI or URC remote controls installed, but they cannot get in touch with their prior integrator (maybe they are out of business, maybe they don’t work on small projects anymore, whatever the case may be), it is really helpful to have contacts who can help you navigate the legacy gear, or even better for you to be familiar with the legacy gear.

Your only other option may be to walk away from the job—if they gear is just too old, or you don’t feel comfortable working with it and the client cannot afford to change (or just refuses to change). But if you can salvage an older URC remote in the master bedroom, you can put the great new control system in the family room, living room, and kitchen, and maybe upgrade the master bedroom down the road.

All I’m saying is to keep your options and your mind open to new solutions, new product lines, and new partners. You never know when you’ll find a golden nugget like SnapAV.

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