There’s a bit of a paradox inherent in AV as a service, said Nick Miller, manager of AV control systems operations at Watermark Estate Management Services.
“Smaller integrators are usually more responsive but don’t have the scale,” he said. “Medium and large integrators have the scale but you may not get the same level of service.
Bradford Benn, a 30-plus-year AV industry veteran who became an end user in the theme park industry in 2018, says the nature of the industry in which he works necessitates keeping AV as a service capabilities in-house, because a broken attraction means lost revenue until it’s fixed.
“Conference rooms and classrooms aren’t profit centers,” he said, noting the contrast with theme park rides.
Building the Partnership
Don’t let all that venom fool you, though, because these same tech end users who talked about why and how they don’t need AV integrators to meet their needs also looked at the qualities they seek when they do want one to come to their campus, theme park, government facility, etc.
“I hire people, not shirts,” said Hollingsworth. “First and foremost, be honest. Don’t try to sell me a widget you just released at InfoComm and expect me to do the research for you. The folks I want to work with are the folks I’ve cultivated relationships with. If I know they’ll do well by me, I’ll bring them into the circle.”
Dawn Meade, senior AV solutions architect at Northrup Grunman, says her work with classified and sensitive government agencies means an increased level of scrutiny.
That’s why she tends to rely on integrators she knows from her prior work, meaning she calls specific people rather than thinking solely about particular companies, no matter how large they might be.
“We’ll follow them because we know they do quality work,” said Meade. “It’s not the company. It’s the people. You can do a lot of damage with one bad seed.”
Benn knows right away to walk away when an integrator tells him about tech end users that are signed to non-disclosure agreements, since many of the projects he’s hiring for are in the same position.
“That tells me an awful lot about whether we can trust you,” he said. “Also, don’t call us for an order. Call us with a solution. Be proactive. Don’t make me have to go and find the problem. My job is to make my vendors succeed.”
DON’T Be Like This
Way knows there are some integrators who are more interested in making a sale than listening to what he needs from them.
He recalled a recent example of an integrator who sent him a wine basket, despite the fact he works on a “dry” Christian campus.
“When you get to know me, you can get to know my organization and my needs,” he said. “We don’t need the same services. We need people who come in to support the things we’re doing. We’re always going to pay for things that make my job easier.”
This story premiered on our sister site for tech end users, MyTechDecisions