New Year’s Resolution #1: Avoid these Common AV Mistakes

Written 2016-12-27 by Chris Bianchet

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? Sure, so long as your AV installation projects are wrapped up, profitable, and your customers are happy. After all, isn’t that the goal of every business? Ring in the new year with great results, happy customers, and smiling employees?

Let’s face it, ending the year on a high note can be difficult.  I’m the beneficiary of supporting, doing, and in some cases fixing hundreds of installation projects on an annual basis and not everyone crushes it. Some of the work that is done flat out stinks.  While the blinders may keep some integrators from seeing the flaws in their work, over time customers always figure out if their integrator knows what they are doing or not.

When you’re in a AV subcontractor role like ours and you’re supporting the integrator while trying to make the customer happy, it’s even a more unique position, because our experience with multiple integrators has taught us what works and what doesn’t.  Sometimes companies insist on doing things that will almost certainly FAIL. Want to take the ‘almost’ out and make failure a certainty?

Here are 3 ways to make that happen: 

1. Creepy Scope: Sure, you’ve heard of scope creep, but if your scope is just littered with undefined outcomes and uncertain deliverables you’re almost certain to see your projects go south. So, if you want to FAIL then it’s simple, just make sure your scope of work is really undefined and has lots of holes so you can have scope creep drive massive profits out of your project, all the while irritating your customers and installers.

2.  Crunch Time: It’s one thing to be ambitious on a project, but it’s another thing to just be unreasonable. After doing enough installations, you should know how long things take.   No matter how much you want to meet an unreasonable deadline to win a project, it just won’t happen. To FAIL here, it’s simple. Set impossible timelines to ensure equipment doesn’t arrive on time. Also, make sure you don’t have time to properly test the system so you can maximize return trips that will surely piss off your service department AND the customer.

3. Out of Control: Touch panels for system control are still a huge part of making complex systems simple. However, with so much available customization, it’s easy to miss the mark.  You need to get your clients involved in design and workflow to get these right. But if FAILING is the goal, and trust me, it too often is the goal, then don’t have your customer sign off on touch panels. This way they can request that you change them several times until they are perfect.  And since your SOW wasn’t well written, you can’t ask for change orders because that would be rude.

Sure, I know I’m being a bit silly or even snarky here. But hey, isn’t the end of the year a time to decompress and share our joy AND our frustration with friends, loved ones, and those that stop by our blog for new insights?

 So, while the remarks may be a little brash (I’ll take my lumps), I really passionately believe the advice here is sound. There are certain ways to ensure that your projects will go badly, and it bothersome to see good integrators fall into traps that hurt their customer relationships, employee morale, and ultimately their bottom line.

 The good news is we’re at the start of another year. A clean slate and a new chance to get things right when it comes to delivering great project results and even better customer experiences. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of scope creep, unreasonable timelines, and missing client communications. It’s the most concrete way to get your year off to a bad start and to feel a little bit guilty when you come across articles like this.

Share some common mistakes that have sent your projects south.