Serious Audio Video Has the Franchise on Control

Published: July 15, 2016

It’s not all about price for some customers. Some put a premium on value, and even more so on proving that value.

This New Jersey-based Buffalo Wild Wings might have been the seventh location of the franchise owner for which Serious Audio Video handled the technology for the fast-growing sports bar chain, but that didn’t mean the Union City, N.J.-based integration firm didn’t have to earn it.

“They still made us bid against other companies and teased us for how much more expensive we are than the other guys,” recalls president Casey Johnston. “We were more than double the price of our closest competitor.”

The truth, however, is that the franchise owner had been impressed with Serious’ previous solutions including the size, scope and reliability and, as such, gave more “free reign to design the system as we saw fit,” Johnston says.

It was important for Serious to seize the opportunity in part because “there had been rumors of corporate potentially bringing us in to consult on other systems nationwide.”

The high stakes were made more dramatic because — as is always the case with sports bar projects — the customer imposed a hard deadline in order to be up and running for a particular sporting event. “Having two weeks to do it was terrifying,” acknowledges Johnston.

Photos: Take a look inside New Jersey-based Buffalo Wild Wings

For its solution Serious leaned on what it calls — apropos for a wings joint — its “secret sauce,” which is a user interface using a collage of products and standardizing the customer experience inside the space. While audio and video certainly do have to impress in a sports bar, Serious’ philosophy was that the user interface has to be extremely friendly and intuitive to ensure technology is accessible.

In the case of this Buffalo Wild Wings, there are three upper managers, five assistant managers and a staff of over 40 who may interact with the system.

Integrator Takeaways:
1. Think automation before thinking of the jaw-dropping audio and video; after all, what good is it if it’s not accessible.
2. Treat every project as if it can potentially turn into seven more.
3. Build on successful solutions to continually improved value that you can then brand as your own.

End User Takeaways:
1. A good control system and user interface can save end users valuable time and increase productivity.
2. It doesn’t hurt to let your technology partners know that there is potential for more work if needs are met and project is successful.
3. Find a good tech partner and be faithful to them.

Equipment Highlights:
Elan g! for control, SoundTube speakers, Sharp displays, Crown audio components, Crimson display mounts

“It’s impossible to constantly train users on how to use and advanced AV system by touching knobs or buttons inside an AV rack,” Johnston points out.

“There are many things that can go wrong if the wrong button is pressed or the wrong knob turned, and it leads to a service call or worse. So our goal was to provide a high-end advanced AV solution that was easy to use, took less than 10 minutes of training to begin using and most importantly could not be broken or misconfigured by any end user.”

Part of Serious’ aforementioned secret sauce is customizing the Elan g! automation platform to provide control over all components of the AV system.

“We then installed an iPad in the wall centrally located in the dining room as the control center,” Johnston says. “This brings end users out of the rack room and on to the floor where they can see their interactions with the system in real-time. We also provided one-touch macro buttons that allow the end users to do multiple functions with a single touch of a button.”

Examples of a macro function might be “open store” or “all TVs on.” Serious also set the audio and video to turn onto predetermined settings each day, ensuring that the ambiance always meets the owners’ approval.

Serious estimates that the single-button controls save the business 20 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening.

The high-stakes, tight-deadline project paid off for Serious as well as the customer. “The franchise owners, corporate overseers and customers love the system,” Johnston says. “When most customers go to a sports bar, if they want to change the channel it’s a long process. Now, the waiter calls the manager to the table and they’re able to change it on the spot, without leaving the table.”

Serious’ solution isn’t just about AV. “Everything in the restaurant — HVAC, blinds, lighting, media, CCTV, etc. — is integrated in to the Elan g! platform.”

The “secret sauce” solution has evolved since Serious began working with Buffalo Wild Wings franchises. “It’s been a long journey since the first location,” he says. “The AV system and lighting were the only things integrated the first time around.

The systems grew as their business did. Now that they have locations spread out around New Jersey there are too many miles to travel to visit each of them every day. Now, they’re able to check in on Princeton, Brick, Staten Island, New Brunswick and Bridgewater stores, all without leaving Toms River.”

Indeed, customer satisfaction led to more Buffalo Wild Wings work for Serious. “After the success of this system and the short turn around, we were quickly hired to design and install the next new location in Flemington and to revamp the system in their first franchise location in North Brunswick.”

Meet all of the 2016 Integration Award Winners here.

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