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AV Integrators High On Passion, Low On Business Skills

By Branko Miletic | Tuesday | 15/04/2008

According to Todd B. Adams, the CEO and founder of DIpartner, an international training and curriculum development company dedicated to educating residential integrators, custom integrators are brimming with passion but lacking in business acumen - a situation he says is retarding the future growth of the industry both here and in the US.

Click to enlarge
Adams, a 16-year veteran of the industry says that "our industry is loaded with passion, the negative side of that being that many installers take a hobbyist approach to their business, which results in cash flow problems".

Moreover he says that integrators are also approaching their businesses in the wrong way- "we are no longer selling boxes", he notes", adding, "We are selling a service".

As a guest of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) for the past three weeks, Adams has been running courses for custom integrators, and notes that the mistakes custom installers are making in the US are being replicated here in Australia.
"We undervalue ourselves as an industry- the best thing you can do for your customers is to maintain professionalism", he says.

This of course resonates more loudly these days with some custom AV installations costing well into in six figures - installations that CEDIA admits will require on-going service and support issues.

And as Adams intimates - there is no sense in having highly technically expert residential integrators who don't have any business skills- they will be out of business with a couple of years so the servicing of these large custom installations is not done.

And one way of keeping high professional standards says Adams is to standardise their business skills and education and training.

CEDIA for their part have been turning their attention to the issue of training and education more and more lately.

According to Stephen Miller, executive director of CEDIA Asia-Pacific providing AV installers with more of a formalised education structure will invariably help them not only make more money but, in holistic terms, will result in "better service, better outcomes and better profits", adding that it will also "benefit the industry as a whole as well".

And it's not just the installers that require training, a fact that shows that Adams and CEDIA are singing from the same hymn sheet - after the CEDIA expo says Miller, "we will branch out and look at education, to raise the bar of this industry".

Both Adams and Miller say that although education has always been  a priority, but that the current time is ripe as "we are reaching a critical mass",  both in terms of member and industry size.

Ironically, the exact same sentiments were echoed by a number of managers of some well-known home automation companies at the recent DesignEx show in Sydney- that the biggest challenges they are facing is the quality and on-going education of their custom residential installers.


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