I’m one of those guys who learns much better by doing. I do my homework, view videos, read manuals, and talk to others who have used something. But there’s nothing like getting hands-on with new products I haven’t used before.
Last month I went to see one of my primary rep firms. I say they are a “primary” firm because they have the complete package: a full array of products that integrate together, great service with quick replies and follow-up, great communication on new products and opportunities, and training facilities.
A complete package of products, service, and communication are the cost of entry for any rep firm. Without that combination, it will be difficult for any firm to acquire and retain integrators. What really sets a company apart, however, is a proper training facility. Top firms have a large set-up with equipment racks ready for hands-on experience and a room where they can host 25-plus integrators for a training session on new products or product features. Having all of their manufacturer partner products installed and ready for use is invaluable. I never want the first time I use something to be when I’m prepping for a customer install or, worse yet, on site at a customer’s home. This rarely happens, but sometimes there just isn’t an opportunity to get hands-on at home.
Going to a rep firm that has a beta version of a product or can run through a classroom training session can frequently alleviate those concerns. For instance, my favorite rep, Atlantic Integrated, offers a full Savant system, KEF speakers, and all of the interconnects, racks, power products, and controllers/amps needed for a full system design.
Recently, Atlantic Integrated provided me with the opportunity to test out Q-Motion’s shading products in person to get a feel for how they work and integrate with the rest of a system. They had these shades installed throughout their offices and had a sample kit to check out set up. As a result of this positive experience I signed up to become a Q-Motion dealer, and am already working on my first install.
A great partnership with a rep firm is more than prices and returned phone calls. It is truly a partnership where the growth of either partner is considered equally.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.