REDBAND: Taking Pride in Immaculate Job Sites and Well-Groomed AV Racks by Todd Anthony Puma

Taking Pride in Immaculate Job Sites and Well-Groomed AV Racks by Todd Anthony Puma

I recently had maintenance done on my car at a new repair shop, replacing the alternator and water pump. The interior of the car was a bit of mess when I brought it in, the detritus of two young kids littering the floor and the back seat. You can image my shock when I got the car back and it was spotless—the shop had completely vacuumed the interior, leaving it in better shape than I gave it to them. When I checked under the hood, I found that they did the same there, cleaning up the dirt and stains that inevitably occur.

I was really excited to find a shop that not only made the client-facing parts clean (the interior), but also had the pride of workmanship to clean and spiff up where most customers will never look: under the hood. I take the same pride of workmanship into my jobs and instill it in my installers and technicians. This manifests itself in three main ways.

Job Site: Like my auto mechanic, on retrofits I’ll often leave a job site cleaner than I found it. Even though we are meticulous about putting down paper and plastic, when the job is over, we will still vacuum and Swiffer the floors, wipe down all surfaces, clean all electronic screens and wash the windows. In some instances, we will even straighten up some of the kids’ toys so when the client comes home they get the “wow” factor of a picture-perfect room…

Click the link below to continue reading…

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=619

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Brands that Work for My Business, May Not be a Fit for Yours By Todd Anthony Puma

Back in my 20’s, I was a Budweiser drinker. It was affordable, light, and I liked it. As I’ve gotten older and begun to appreciate having a beer for the taste, I’ve matured and been ordering more IPAs, craft beers, and imports. My tastes have changed and my product selection has changed along with it. Plenty of my friends have stayed with Bud or other American lagers. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I don’t begrudge them anything. And on certain occasions it still tastes great to me—nothing beats an ice-cold Bud on a hot summer day.

The same thing happens in business. Across more than nine years in business, the product mix at The Source has changed dramatically. I’ve gone from entry-level audio distribution systems and separate video to Autonomic’s Mirage media centers and full automation systems from Crestron and URC. I have been talking about Crestron quite a bit lately, as many of you may have noticed. That is because it works for my clientele and me. I find it integrates cleanly and performs perfectly with very few, if any, service calls. It has taken me a while to get to this point—less than a year ago, I wouldn’t have recommended Crestron for any client, and I was installing many different brands and systems. I pride myself on always growing and evolving.

To Continue Reading Click the link Below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=612

 

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Re-Visiting the Basics of Business Through the Eyes of Young Integrators By Todd Anthony Puma

We all started our companies from virtually nothing, we scrambled to get clients, and we weren’t sure where the next job was coming from (and often still don’t). For me, at least, having been in the business for almost a decade, I forget what it can be like to start out from scratch and have to build the business and your reputation.
However, working with many of the Home Theater Rebuild referral-partner companies, I have been able to live vicariously through the eyes of start-up integrators. One of the companies I work with started working on his business full-time only 12 months ago. He’s a solo shop, and in the second half of 2012 he did about $35,000-$40,000 in business. He’s already done more than $100,000 in 2013. Looking at what’s he’s accomplished in so short a time has made me take a step back and recall the lessons that I have learned (and re-learned).
1. Stay Humble — It’s easy to get cocky when business is going well and you’ve been doing it for years. It’s even easier to get jaded and want to blow off smaller projects or difficult clients. Seeing someone struggling with building a business and being grateful for every dollar of sales reminds me how lucky many of us are to have a somewhat stable income.
2… Continue reading by clicking the link below:

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

Don’t Forget to check out our new REDBAND feature: REDBAND RADIO. Click the icon below to listen in…

REDBANDPodcastIcon

 

REDBAND: Handling Unexpected Delays on Custom Integration Projects By Todd Anthony Puma

Handling delays in projects can be a real headache. Even if it’s a personal project, say remodeling your kitchen, any delay can be frustrating. Another week of take-out sounds great, unless you’ve been living on take-out for the past six weeks. It’s even worse when it impacts your business and your clients. We all put together detailed plans, drawings, and timelines for our clients and projects. While things do come up, we stick to these documents and commitments. But sometimes things happen that are out of our control that require us to adjust on the fly.

My company has been working on a very large renovation with a client combining three apartments into one enormous home in Manhattan. This is one of the largest non-theater projects we have ever undertaken and required a lot of time and commitment from me, my techs, installers, and project manager. All of the pre-wire went off without a hitch, and we were all set to start rough-in last week. We’d checked with the contractor a week before our scheduled date, and we were still on track. Surprising on such a large project, but the contractor is great and is on top of things.

 Then we got a call on Thursday (we were supposed to start the following Monday). The electrician had run some wiring incorrectly and not to code, so the walls had to be opened up, the electrical fixed, and the walls re-closed before we could do our rough-in…
Continue reading the article by clicking the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=604

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Impressing My Neighbors, Architects, and Designers by Todd Anthony Puma

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that several months ago I was invited to a neighbor’s house for dinner. He didn’t know what I did for a living and he was raving about his Sonos system and Harmony remote. I promised to write again when I had them over to our house. Well, now that I’ve fully installed my Crestron system, had all the bells and whistles programmed in by industry veteran Richard Fregosa, and have installed all of my floorstanding, in-wall, in-ceiling, and invisible speakers, I was ready to have them over.

Needless to say, from the moment they came in, I had the full-on effect going. The Stealth Acoustics speakers in the entry hall were softly playing music and the entry keypad had a welcome message for them. While it didn’t yet seem to sink in, I knew that over the course of the evening they would see some of the subtle, but impactful touches.

The first “wow” moment was when we stepped into the family room for a pre-dinner drink. I touched the “cocktail” mode on the in-wall touchpanel and the lights dimmed, the shades dropped to half closed, and music started playing through the speakers. That’s when the conversation started with a, “How did you do that?” After that, he couldn’t get enough of the amazing things we could do, from seeing who was at the front door, to controlling music and video in every room through a matrix switch, to checking out the rack that ran it all…

Continue Reading the post at the link Below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=600

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Paying It Forward to Other Service Providers by Todd Anthony Puma

Several times in this space I’ve mentioned the Home Theater Rebuild. This is an organization I started a couple of years ago to give back to the industry that gave so much to me. It also has helped develop new service providers in the industry and assisted those who need a little guidance or advice on taking their business to the next level. It’s been a labor of love, and I’ve been rewarded several-fold in with new friendships, business relationships, and just knowing I’m doing the right thing by my AV community.

Just this week, the best thing happened. One of the members of the Rebuild “paid it forward” and took on another service provider to help them out.

Home Theater Advisors (HTA) has been in the Rebuild for about a year, and has grown from a brand-new company operating “nights and weekends” to a full-time business that is set to exceed its annual revenue target in the next two to three months.

Another provider reached out to HTA because they were asked to re-install an unfamiliar remote control brand for a new client that was moving into a new residence. The owner of HTA was more than happy to help out and lend a hand to get a fellow company out of a jam and to delight a client. While HTA did get a little bit of revenue, the owner, Mark, told me that wasn’t why he did it. He said he had gotten so much from the networking opportunities and help from other providers in the Rebuild, that he “owed” it to the community to help out someone else in need….

To continue reading click the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=598

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

 

REDBAND: Five Ways to Help Monetize Systems Integration Service Calls by Todd Anthony Puma

One of the challenges of doing many, smaller projects is that service calls can become a large drain on profitability. Even with fewer, larger jobs, the more complex a job gets, the more visits are required to service it.

Just a few months ago, we installed a small six-zone NuVo music system and a few URC remotes for a client. At the time, it was a straightforward job, but it already begun draining the profits we made. First, the clients pushed one zone too hard and blew one of the amps on the music system, requiring two return visits (one to diagnose the program and one to install the replacement part). We also have returned a couple of times due to RF interference with the remote base station.

To help maintain profits when service calls arise, we have clearly set expectations upfront and early on in the process with our customers. They know when they will incur a service fee and when they won’t. That way, there is less likely to be pushback or consternation when we bill a client for a call. We have put a five-prong strategy in place to make sure communications are clear and expectations are appropriately managed…

To continue reading Click the Link Below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=592

 

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Making the Most of Small-Budget Custom Installs By Todd Anthony Puma

Months ago, I wrote in this space about not judging a customer by how they dress or what they drive. Last week, I described ways to build partnerships with other firms in the industry. This week, I want to bring it all together. The bottom line is focusing on customer service as the priority. Make the customer happy, work with each other as peers, and we will all not only grow the industry but make more money and be more successful.

Too many times I see service providers in our business scoff at a smaller job just because it doesn’t seem worth the time to them. Just last week, a woman called because she wanted a top-of-the-line system for her boyfriend and told me she’d been saving up all year. I started to salivate. Then she dropped the bomb of how much she’d saved: $1,500. Internally, I was deflated, but of course I never let it show. Maybe that’s my background in retail coming into play, where closing the sale is what counts, no matter the size.

I knew that for what she was looking for in that price range, my company wouldn’t be able to help her, but I didn’t want to disappoint her either. I remember the days when I didn’t have a lot of money but I would scrimp and save to buy something for someone I loved on their birthday or Christmas. Even though it was a small amount (maybe $30), they were ecstatic because they knew how hard it was for me to earn that money and how much thought I put into the gift. I was proud to be able to get them something they enjoyed and appreciated. So I spent time with the client to understand her needs and pulled in one of my Home Theater Rebuild referral network companies to help her with a system at her price point. While it isn’t something most integrators would consider high-end, for $1,500 you can still get a solid receiver, 5.1 surround sound, and a media-streaming device.

We have to keep several points in mind with every customer interaction:…

To continue reading Click the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=588

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

 

REDBAND: Partnering with Competitors When Work Piles Up by Todd Anthony Puma

We currently have the “problem” everyone wishes they had: more work than our small company can handle. Every business has its busy season and right now, we have an influx of new projects coming in daily. Trust me, I am not complaining. But while I’m excited for all the new opportunities, I also want to make sure that I am giving every client my utmost attention.

In fact, last week we got a call from a vendor referral, and the client needed new remotes to replace their old Harmony’s that were no longer working. It would be a very small job, especially given that we are currently working on three large installations simultaneously. My company’s workload would have pushed out the smaller job at least two weeks and, to me, that would be poor customer service.

What we needed was a way to either expand or contract our company, according to business cycle, without incurring hiring, training, overhead, and downsizing costs. That is where my partnerships and relationships with other integrators have come into play. A few weeks ago I wrote about building relationships with other integrators (read that here) that you trust to your company to handle the load while you are on vacation. But these partners are important in so many other ways, too….

To continue reading click the Link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=584

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

 

REDBAND: Knowing When to Say ‘No’ to a Custom Installation Client By Todd Anthony Puma

When business is slow, you have bills to pay, and payroll to meet, it’s hard to turn down a job that you know isn’t the right fit for your company. Most times, it’s important to trust your instincts and know when to say “no.”

In middle of 2012 we quoted a decent-sized job for seven zones of audio and three zones of video in a gut renovation of a Manhattan apartment. The contractor had completed the prewire, and now the homeowner needed a system. In our meetings with them, everything seemed good. They had a budget in mind, they were pretty reasonable with their expectations for what they would get within that budget, and they knew what they wanted and how they would use system. As it turned out, we ended up losing out to a big box store that underbid us by about 10 percent on the total job (using a different equipment mix, with slightly less functionality), and we never had the chance to walk through what we would do differently for the client.

Nine months that same homeowner called us hoping we could rehab the system that the big box store had installed. It wasn’t working up to his expectations and the big box had cut off its free follow-up service calls. His issues were fairly minor (the zone of audio that goes through the AVR was a little delayed from the rest of the rooms, creating an echo; the outdoor speakers are two different zones because the homeowner has parties and plays music so loudly that a shared zone for four speakers wasn’t working; streaming content from Rhapsody and others isn’t available in all zones; and there are some issues with the TV control. His complaints were legitimate, but probably solvable with the existing system. He understandably couldn’t afford to pull it out the current system and start from scratch…

To continue reading click the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=579

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .