15 Sep 5 Things To Consider Before Choosing an AV Integrator
Written by Mike Woodard | Austin, TX
“We’ll never use them again!” That’s a phrase that is said far too often in reference to AV integrators. I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories. A church invests thousands, if not millions, of dollars into a design and build and the system never really works the way it’s supposed to or the integrator won’t return their phone calls or the church is never really educated on how to properly maintain and operate the system. It’s every church’s nightmare.
Well… it doesn’t have to be. Choosing an integrator is about a partnership. If you take the time to consider the following, the cream will rise to the top and your choice will be much clearer. Here are five things that you should consider in the process of choosing an integrator for your next AV project.
1: Who have they worked with in the past?
Knowing an integrator’s client list is important for several reason. Obviously, knowing that they have some “street-cred” can go a long way for building confidence but knowing that they understand how to work within your style of church is valuable. If your church is very traditional and they only have experience working with contemporary churches, it may not be a good fit.
2: Do they understand who WE are?
One of, if not THE most important thing to look for in an integrator is whether or not they understand the mission and vision of YOUR church. There are no such thing as a cookie-cutter church. Every church has a unique calling and vision and you should make sure that your integrator is dedicated to working with you to move that vision forward. If they are pushing for pre-packaged solutions, it won’t be a good fit.
3: Is this a business transaction or long-term relationship?
Anyone can sell you gear. Almost anyone can install the gear. What separates a great integrator from the rest of the field is relationship. The good news is, this is a fairly easy thing to discern. Are they focused on a master plan for your church or are they looking only at this project? Are they authentic when they talk to you or are they just telling you what you want to hear? Are they willing to tell you no? Are they focused on your vision or are they all about the sale? If they make no effort to build a relationship, they won’t be a good fit.
4: What happens after the project?
It’s about the long-haul, right? One of the scariest things that churches face with AV integration projects is what happens after all the work is done and the installers walk out the door. Are you going to be left alone? What kind of support does your integrator offer? Do you have the contact numbers of people you can call at 7:30 on a Sunday morning when you need something? If they do take your call, are they charging you a support fee? After your project is complete, your integrator should feel like an extension of your tech-team. If they don’t, it won’t be a good fit.
5: Do you like them?
This one may seem like a no-brainer but it’s really important. Even on a small project, you will be spending a considerable amount of time with your integrator. Do you like them or do they make you feel uncomfortable? Are you excited about your meetings or dreading them? Would you spend time with them outside of your project? If you are not looking forward to working with your integrator, don’t hire them. Consider them as part of your staff. You would never hire someone for your team that didn’t fit culturally. If your integrator doesn’t work culturally, it won’t be a good fit.
Many of these questions are things that can not be ascertained in a RFP or formal bidding process. My advice is starting building a relationship with an integrator NOW. Even if you don’t have a project on the horizon. Start the process of building trust and sharing your church’s vision now so that when it’s time to move forward, the choice will be clear.