In the age of large superstores offering endless aisles of shelves busting with items you had no idea you needed, there comes a time when you need to re-evaluate your business and determine who you are. Are you attempting to become the AV equivalent of your local big box store, carrying every product ever produced for the entire audio/video world?
As I reflect upon the retail concept of a superstore and any local AV firm, I see many attempted similarities. So many firms get caught up with the current plethora of available AV manufacturers and their respective product libraries as they work to build their business. While this is great for the budding business owner, there comes a time when enough is enough and it’s time to rein in your product offerings.
Almost every business success story has one thing in common: Focus. They are focused on their company, focused on their products, and focused their services. They stay focused on their core customers, and focused on their employees. These extremely successful companies are always FOCUSED! They have learned that they aren’t in business to offer every product or every service across their industry. They’ve learned to focus on their principle segment and become incredibly knowledgeable in that area, and in turn, they’ve become extremely successful in their market.
Take a look at Apple, they only make a limited number of products in just three main product families, all at greater costs than their competitors. Apple has always been a great example of the focus Jobs embedded into the company culture. Apple continually focuses on controlling everything within their business, from the stores to the packaging to the actual product people purchase.
So what does this mean for you and your business? Well unless you’ve got visions of creating a big box franchised version of a worldwide AV integration firm (I realize we do have firms that operate worldwide, but today we’re talking about everybody else), this means you must focus! So today let’s look at one of these items to, ahem, focus on (pun intended)!
When you decide to focus on your products and your services, you can’t help but see an increase in your business. One of our biggest mistakes in business is allowing customers to have too much choice. Think about your business for a moment: How many speaker brands do you carry, and of those companies, how many individual speaker lines do they offer? When you really think about it, even if you carry 10 different speaker brands, are you really going to spec one model from each brand for your clients? No, you’re going to spec the manufacturers that you prefer and you KN OW will do the job and hit the budget.
Look at the time you spend attempting to keep up to date on product lines you don’t really know, don’t really use, and definitely don’t want to spec. Why not take stock of your current catalogue of brands offered and cut out the dead weight of the brands you don’t like and don’t use? Even if (using our example) you cut your speaker lines in half and only carried five distinct brands, think of all the time you currently waste trying to stay current on the other five brands. Think about the benefit of putting that time back into your business and focusing that time into another part of your business.
It’s time for us as an industry to become more focused in every aspect of our business. It’s time to know your field, to know your customers, and to truly know your products. Focus on your main products, the products you know work for your clients, and the products that work for you! Review and remove those products that are sucking your time and profits in favor of those products that work. By sharpening your focus in the products you carry, you’ll find you are being more productive all while providing a better overall experience for your customers. Your clients come to you and your company for your expertise; they want you to provide them solutions that will meet their needs. They don’t call you so you can complicate their decision making process—your clients want your expertise and want to trust you to build them solutions that work for them. So look over your product catalogue and spend some time considering what products you carry that allow you to continue to narrow your focus to take your business to the next level.
Matt D. Scott is the president and founder of OMEGA Audio Video, in London, Ontario, Canada. Scott had his first encounter with Pro-Audio at age six when a PA loudspeaker fell, cracking his head, and leaving a scar to this day. After mopping up the blood, Scott started his AV career and has been working in pro AV, commercial AV, and residential AV ever since. Scott loves the industry and all things tech! A self-professed techhead, Scott shares his opinions on social media, local radio, omegaaudiovideo.com, mattdscott.com, and through various publications.
The Client’s Perspective
As you offer multiple choices to your clients, you are only going to achieve one of two things: Either they will have no idea what you’ve presented, and having so many choices will confuse them and frustrate them (not a good start when you want an signed approval), or you will have provided choices that will cause them to research, effectively expecting them to do your work for you. You are supposed to be the expert, you are supposed to be the one who can see the vast array of products available and zero in on the exact fit for your client. This will be intrinsically easier if you are carrying the proper products that fit your company identity, and when you continue to bid on projects that are within your companies market focus, but that’s another article entirely.
If you’re the expert, why do you give your clients a choice between so many different options and so many products? We’ve all suffered from information overload and too many distractions, and yet when our customers come to us for a solution, all too often we seem to encourage our potential clients to continue to engage in this practice.
—Matt D. Scott