If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that several months ago I was invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner. He didn’t know what I did for a living and he was raving about his Sonos system and Harmony remote. I promised to write again when I had them over to our house. Well, now that I’ve fully installed my Crestron system, had all the bells and whistles programmed in by industry veteran Richard Fregosa, and have installed all of my floorstanding, in-wall, in-ceiling, and invisible speakers, I was ready to have them over.
Needless to say, from the moment they came in, I had the full-on effect going. The Stealth Acoustics speakers in the entry hall were softly playing music and the entry keypad had a welcome message for them. While it didn’t yet seem to sink in, I knew that over the course of the evening they would see some of the subtle, but impactful touches.
The first “wow” moment was when we stepped into the family room for a pre-dinner drink. I touched the “cocktail” mode on the in-wall touchpanel and the lights dimmed, the shades dropped to half closed, and music started playing through the speakers. That’s when the conversation started with a, “How did you do that?” After that, he couldn’t get enough of the amazing things we could do, from seeing who was at the front door, to controlling music and video in every room through a matrix switch, to checking out the rack that ran it all.
We started talking about the types of things that can be done, installations I have done, and what he might want to do in his home. While he likes his Sonos and Harmony set-up (and that is a fine solution for many people) seeing what more is possible was a real eye-opener for him.
All of this made me think back to something I had realized years ago and that has been driving my business philosophy ever since. The potential for our marketplace is huge. It’s not that people don’t want our products and services, but that they just don’t know they exist. Our biggest challenge is making people aware of what the possibilities are.
How many times have you gotten a call from a potential client who says, “We just moved into our new home and want to talk about an AV system,” and upon further discussion, you find they have just finished painting and papering the walls, so now it’s too late to do much more than hang a few TVs.
That is why getting involved in the design and architectural communities is so important, not just for our individual businesses, but for the industry as a whole. We must help designers and architects see how we, as an industry, can work within their vision and even enhance it, without detracting from what they are trying to accomplish. We need to show them how their business can grow when they can offer their clients not only a great look but also great experiences. And we need to show how we can help, maybe by combining all of that “wall acne” (HVAC, security, lighting and speaker controls) into a simple and clean touchpanel.
So take any opportunity you can to ingratiate yourself with the designer and architects in your market. Don’t sell them. Let them know your capabilities and make suggestions. Show how we can make their jobs easier and their clients happier. Have brochures that show great work. Be prepared to bring them to a showcase client’s home or to a manufacturer showroom or facility (here’s where I’m lucky by being in NYC). Once they see us as partners, they will recommend us to their clients and we will all do better. Every time a home is featured in an architectural or design magazine and I see subtle AV inclusions like touchpanels or painted speakers, I smile a little inside.
+Todd Anthony Pumais president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.