The clock is counting down to 2014, so we’re all doing our year-end planning and looking forward to the next successful year. For my company, this was a year of rebuilding. Back at the end of 2012 we lost a long-time good installer, and it has taken a while to get our team where we needed it to be. Now that our ducks are lined up in a nice military-style row, it is time to look forward and plan for the future.
I’m planning on a banner year in 2014, and here is why it is going to be successful one.
1. My Installers are Trained the Right Way
My fellow Residential Systems bloggers and I have all talked about the difficulty of finding the right people. An installer must be both technical enough to handle the product and integration challenges, yet personal enough to effectively communicate with clients. We don’t get a graduating class each year to choose from and there aren’t enough AV trade schools. To be perfectly honest, we went through a few installers this year attempting to find the right fit. We finally found someone by hiring on attitude, not on experience, and then sent him to CEDIA Boot Camp.
This was a big risk. It is hard to spend money on someone when you don’t know if they’re going to be worth the investment and stay with the company. However, by sending him to training I knew he would come back with the proper knowledge base, knowing the “right way” to install. I knew he would also see that there is a good career to be made in this industry. Not only are trainees at CEDIA Boot Camp learning the proper installation procedures, but they also get a daily dose of Kool-Aid each day about this industry as a whole. I plan on sending my people for more Boot Camps in the coming year to make sure we’re are at the top of our game.
2. We Rounded Out Our Product Lines
I believe in a diverse portfolio, so I’m happy to bring on new product lines that fill the gaps. Two major lines that will help launch us to new levels in 2014 are Kaleidescape (specifically the Cinema One) and Sonos. These two brands are at different ends of the spectrum, but fill a void. The Cinema One should be offered to anyone with a current DVD or CD library. Nothing will sell it like demonstrating it, so we purchased a demo unit as well. We all know that Kaleidescape’s GUI is second to none, and now with the advent of the Cinema One we are finally at a price point that isn’t upwards of $10,000, but still has in interface that is easy and fun to use.
Sonos is almost too good. For a client looking for music throughout their house—just music—it is really quite good. The Connect Amps are a perfect way to upgrade a client that has speakers wired throughout the house (maybe your clients from seven years ago that still have volume control knobs) to give them the latest in streaming audio. Put one in per zone and bam, you’re done. The client will love it for its ease of use, and you’ll be re-opening doors to additional sales. Yes, you can buy Sonos anywhere, but no one will design the system as well as you will (and no one is giving it away online). You can even add in an enterprise-grade wireless access point to make sure their phones have solid coverage throughout the house. The best part is that it’s all installed within hours. (Disclaimer: I must give credit to my fellow blogger Mr. Sciacca for pushing me forward with both of these products)
3. We Upgraded Our Install Van
That’s right, our new installation van is bigger, badder, and more organized. This year we upgraded our main install van to a Nissan NV 2500 HD Cargo (yep, even our truck is HD). We had some custom shelves made for it, installers can stand up in it, and it fits a 90-inch LED. We’re ready for the next big jobs of 2014.
4. We Became Experts of the ‘Invisible’ (Networking)
I’m sure I don’t need to harp on this again, but here it goes. Understanding, selling, and troubleshooting IT networks is the most important thing you can do to move your company forward. CEDIA has announced networking boot camps, but if that is not in the cards, align yourself with some of the great networking companies and start taking webinars and asking questions. As the “internet of things” really starts to take over, and it will (there are already more connected devices then people on the planet), understanding this invisible world will be a must.
5. My Passion for the Business is Back
I love what I do, and I’m honored that you’re reading this right now. This industry is amazing and one of the most interesting industries out there. We get to play with toys all day long and maybe make life better for people in the process. Passion is what get’s me out of bed in the morning (see last week’s blog ‘Why Do You Get Out of Bed, and Does it Matter?’) and passion and determination will propel us onward.
So, I thank you readers. Thank you for your support this year. Thank you for your comments. Thank you to the Residential Systems team for giving me an outlet. Next up for me is CES (Follow me on twitter at tech_chi for live coverage). I’ll also be recapping here about what’s hot at the show.
Happy Holidays, friends! See you in the New Year.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is project manager/designer for Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.