There are likely two monumental questions on many integrators’ mind at the moment:
First, how does one navigate such a sudden (and unexpected) disruption as the current pandemic?
And secondly, what comes after?
Amanda Wildman – co-owner of the Michigan firm TruMedia
(and a CEDIA Board member) is bullish on the future: “When this wraps up, when the state gets back to work, when construction sites are open, I’ll bet we have to hire three new people.”
What Wildman sees is a pending release of pent-up demand from a bevy of consumers who have suddenly realized the true value of a robust home network that has the fundamental infrastructure needed for dozens of devices dedicated to business, e-learning, and entertainment – all being used at the same time.
And she’s not worried about that business coming in, even in what’s likely to be a new era of consumer frugality: “People will afford something once they understand its value. And the value of eliminating those pain points will become unquestionable.”
Bottom line: If a client sees the value in your work, and trusts you to fix what’s broken, you’ll be the first person he or she calls for an upgrade or an addition.
Pete Trauth, owner of California’s Nirvana Home Entertainment
, agrees that the cultural shift will necessitate a new look at the “home office.” “I’ve already had conversations with businesses who are realizing that productivity hasn’t dropped off in the least during this remote-work experience.”
Mike Ranpura, who heads up London’s Smart Life AV
, adds “And if employers can save money on energy costs in their physical spaces by having everyone work from home two or three days a week, they’ll do it.”
And in the Meantime?
Between now and then, though, it’s critical to keep money coming in the door. Ranpura has quite a few service contracts that generate monthly revenue, and those are a help – especially since he’s got multiple points of access to reboot and troubleshoot systems.
The wild card here: “Are manufacturers going to be doing firmware updates in the middle of all this? We don’t know yet. And it’s important that we find ways to stay top-of-mind, so I need to stay engaged with my clients.” Bottom line: If a client sees the value in your work, and trusts you to fix what’s broken, you’ll be the first person he or she calls for an upgrade or an addition.
Sergio Gaitan (GME Electronics
, Mexico) is looking inward during the downtime. “I’ve been finding out what other skills my employees have – what other knowledge do they bring to the company? How can I use that to adjust my business model so that I can keep everyone on board?”
Pete Trauth has noticed that some do-it-for-me customers have become do-it-with-me adventurers. “I have one gent who usually doesn’t want to touch anything. He had me walk him through a particular issue virtually, via FaceTime, and we solved the problem, even though it was the kind of thing that usually necessitated a visit from me.”
Wildman echoes that point: “It’s about education. We do a lot of stuff on social media that works well – things that are more about our experiences than anything else.”
Wildman’s family recently hosted a virtual party via Zoom, and Wildman walked everyone through the setup, including her elderly relatives. She recorded the whole thing, then posted it on her business pages. “It’s not a sales pitch-y kind of thing – it’s just a way to engage and keep people aware of our presence – and our knowledge – during this thing.”