Think about the last time you went shopping for something you knew nothing about. For me, it was an engagement ring for my wife. I knew that I wanted to get her the perfect setting and the best diamond money could buy, but for a guy like me, what does that even mean?
When I went to the jeweler, I trusted that all I had to tell him was that I wanted the best diamond, and he would know exactly what steps to take to create me the ring that I envisioned in my mind.
This is what our customers are expecting from us when they put their home theater needs in our hands. Home theater can be complicated, with so many lines and components involved that it is up to us, the professionals, to be able to dissect the individual wants and needs of our customers and present them with the home theater system of their dreams.
I remember when I first started my company. I came from a big-box store that only offered select brands to their customers. So that was all I knew. Once I came out of their shadows and into my own, I saw the wide world of what home theater actually had to offer.
I spent night after night researching every product, from speakers, TVs, and remotes, to every level of wiring there was. The most effective part of my research was that I took whatever money I had at that time and purchased all of the product I could afford so that I could speak first-hand to the features and benefits provided by these products as well as prepare myself to be able to troubleshoot anything that was thrown my way.
This may seem like a lot of work and money to spend at the early stages of a new business, but I assure you that this was the best thing I could have ever done and will continue to do as the industry grows and changes. The depth of knowledge that you possess can make or break you at the point of sale.
The author (pictured above, third from the left) has passed along his curiosity for constant learning about new products, companies, and technologies in the custom installation industry to staff members Mark Feinberg (above, left, with URC’s Steve Gobern and Lars Granoe, and lead installer Jason Johnson (below).
A potential customer wants to be confident that they can paint you the picture of the end result they are envisioning, and you will not only be able to provide that but to exceed it. I can tell you countless stories of first-time customers that had quotes from other installers but hired us because of how well we knew our product lines. We pride ourselves in knowing the answer to every question they ask and understanding the comparative differences in every line available.
Home theater is a luxury, not a necessity, but that mindset can change based on your presentation to a customer. Knowledge is power, and I encourage you to do your research. Follow trends and read customer forums to learn what faults they are finding with systems before you install them yourself. Then you cannot only speak to it, but ensure them that you can provide them with a flawless system. Experiment with settings so that when you install the visual components, you can wow them with the most crystal-clear picture that they have ever seen with little to no effort.
Think of the excitement you felt inside when you used your first Universal Remote Control to turn on your 66-inch Samsung TV and watched your favorite movie in surround sound with your friends and family. Allow your customers to experience this with you, with the confidence and ease of a flawless system thanks to your efforts in knowing the perfect products available to them.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City. To read about one of his recent projects for a Wall St. broker client, click here.