Ever wish you and your clients could sign a prenuptial agreement before entering into a relationship? Sure, there are formal contracts, but I am talking about a document that states more than what type of equipment they are buying and how many items.
It might look something like this…
Dear potential client, there are a few things we, your custom integrator, would like you to know before we enter into this relationship.
Technology is not a perfect science and may crash or break. Together we can make sure your system is down for the shortest possible time and work toward a more robust future. We are not a plumber or an electrician. When they finish the job, they will leave and you may never see them again. You may want us, your custom integrator, to stick around for a while. If you are not looking for a long-term relationship, then you may want to consider Best Buy.
We are not in this for the money (not with these margins); we are here because we love this stuff, and it is in our DNA. We are here because we want to make your life better with technology. So, talk to us and inform us how you live and then we will find a way to improve your world.
Trust that we know what is right for you. We have been to countless trade shows and conferences and have installed numerous systems (we have the scars to prove it!). Therefore, we know what products work best and which ones play well with others; no need to question our every step. Like all great relationships, trust is essential. There is a method to our madness; come along for the ride.
Communication is imperative. From the time we quote the job (even if we have countless “interviews”) to installation or your system to after the project is complete, we will not be able to read your mind or answer questions or solve problems we don’t know exist. Most likely, your system will not be perfect the first time (again; technology is not a perfect science), yet, if you tell us, we can and will fix it.
Don’t yell, for it gets you nowhere. We understand that after a long day when you go to turn the system on and it does not work, it is frustrating. However, yelling makes us want to end the relationship not prolong it. No one ever really wanted to go further for a client that screamed. This is how divorce happens, and we want a long fruitful relationship.
We need input. Like a car going into the repair shop, we need more information than “it does not work.” Yes, I know you may have just purchased the system, and I know you paid good money for it. Explaining what is wrong and how you were trying to use the system will go a long way in trying to fix it. Remember the brand-new car does not work if it runs out of gas. (See “Communication is Key” above)
Electronics age quickly. Speaking of cars, how old is the car you are driving? Like cars, electronics do not last forever and need to be updated and upgraded. They will not work forever. If your system is more than five years old, it is out of date (I am sorry if that hurts). Sure it still works (that is how awesome we are in finding the right equipment), but it is antiquated. Think about the car scenario or any electronics (your iPhone perhaps), they are not meant to last forever. This again is another reason for that great relationship mentioned above.
We are humans too. We have families, and we are trying to make a living doing what we love. We are not perfect (not all of the time at least). We will do our very best to solve issues that arise and bring you the very best products for the very best prices and in return all you have to do is remember that, we are human too. We do not want to ‘work for you,' we want to partner to create a lasting union. So, remember when you text us at all hours of the night, we too have lives and will get to your question/issue as soon as we humanly can.
For your understanding in this partnership and mentioned elements mentioned above, we promise to deliver the very best products, system, and installation your budget can buy.
Wouldn’t it be great if our clients and potentials could sign this “bill of rights” before we entered into a long-term relationship? I can assure you that all parties would be happier if they heeded this advice. Make sure you are at least setting the right expectations for your clients, letting them know how your process works. This will often alleviate issues moving forward. (Not to say the client won’t forget and text you during Sunday dinner about the crisis of not being able to watch a recorded program which will end up being the cable company’s fault.)
Would you like to offer clients an AV prenup? What would you add? Tell me in the comments section below.
Heather L. Sidorowicz is the president of Southtown Audio Video in Hamburg, NY.