REDBAND Welcomes Newest Blogger Jason Griffing

Jason Griffing has joined REDBAND bloggers.

Look for his 1st Post this week!

Welcome to the Band!

RedBandJGriffingFinal

Jason Griffing has 10+ years experience in the AV industry.  He is currently a Project Manager at DSI Entertainment Systems in Los Angeles.  Jason also blogs at IntegratorsAcademy.com and can be found on Twitter @JasonGriffing

REDBAND: Are you Social with Media? by Nate Schneider

Here is the first post from our newest member “Big Nate” Schneider. Check out his bio below…

Are you Social with Media?

There is no shortage of social media in today’s rapidly growing high-tech culture.  In my opinion, social media has two sides.  It can be an entertaining waste of time and it has the potential to boost your career.  Finding the balance between wasting time and adding real professional value can be tricky, especially for those who are just starting out.  Take a minute to analyze your social media situation by asking yourself the following questions.

1. What Is My Social Media Goal? Defining success is key.  Are you trying to represent a brand?  Share useful information?  Get a celebrity to retweet your tweet?  Gain as many followers as possible?  Expand your professional network?  Keep up with friends & family?  Earn revenue?  You see where I’m going here?  Coming to a firm understanding of your end game gives you something to aim for.  I have found writing down my goals and keeping a running log from year to year helps me stay focused and it’s starting to pay off.

2. What Social Media Accounts Can I Purge? It’s ok to let your Tumblr or Pinerest go dormant.  You can always come back to them someday in the future.  It’s good to focus your attention on a few value adding sites rather than spread yourself too thin.  You may want to open an account just to reserve your preferred user name and possibly come back to it in a few years.  Once you know your social media goals you can cut back or cut out completely time spent on sites that don’t seem to help.

3. Am I Working Hard Or Smart? Utilize free web tools!  This is exciting because you can put technology to work for you.  There are many clever web tools and free apps available to maximize your social media efficiency.  TweetDeck is a more user friendly Twitter dashboard.  Paper.li and Google Alerts can be used to stay on top of industry trends by aggregating certain feeds and keywords that matter most to you.  If you’re a heavy Facebook user, CheckOutTheLatest can be used to subscribe to YouTube channels through Facebook notifications.  Try using Buffer App to schedule future Tweets and Facebook posts so you can maintain a social media presence throughout the day while focusing on other things, like your day job.

Buffer App Tip:  Make sure the Facebook posts and Tweets you add to your queue remain authentic.  No one likes to follow a robot. If you have never had the time, energy or motivation to grab the social media bull by the horns, I would highly recommend giving it a shot.

I started taking social media seriously in 2011 with the launch of my How-To YouTube Channel.  Since then I have greatly expanded my professional network, I’ve landed job interviews, monetized my content, received free stuff, hit a million video views (almost), appeared on various podcasts and some of my video footage even made it into an ABC World News broadcast.  Not too shabby for a guy working out of his basement.  Don’t be afraid to jump in wherever you are and embrace the idea of incremental improvement. You’ll learn by doing and improve as time goes on.

Be Social.

Nate Schneider

BigNateREDBANDfinalVer

Nate Schneider has worked in the AV Industry since 2005 in both Live Sound and Commercial Integration. Currently he is an AV Designer by day and a YouTube Partner by night. Visit BigNate84.com to learn more about Nate and check him out on twitter at @BigNate84Howto

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 .

A must see for fans of Live events. Check out this youtube video of The Flaming Lips in Concert

A fellow REDBAND blogger, The Video Vandal,  recently went to see the Flaming Lips in concert in Montclair, NJ. He couldn’t stop raving about how great the show was. Not only did the band sound great but he was super impressed with the LED Displays, lighting, 3d  content, etc.  In particular the he showed me a clip of the Flaming Lips covering the David Bowie song “Heros” (min. 53:30 of the attached video) that looked awesome.

Thanks Video Vandal for the heads up!

Chris

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: You Don’t Have to be Big to be Professional by Mark Coxon

Mickey Rat

You Don’t Have to be Big to be Professional by Mark Coxon

I’ve taken some heat in the past from smaller integration firms, (imagine that).  I’ve learned that the term “Trunk Slammer” is an emotional hot button for almost any integrator, commercial or residential, that works out of a home office and a warehouse located in the garage.

I’ve also gotten in trouble for questioning the quality of commercial work done by residential firms who have flooded the market over the past couple years.  The assumption is that I am against small business, or against companies evolving to expand into new and different markets.  One person even commented the “Everyone has to start somewhere @$$#ole!”

I guess I’m just misunderstood.  I’m not against any of those things.  The problem is that some integrators use being small as an excuse for not doing things right, and that is the problem.  So let me be clear in my intentions:

Integrators, you don’t have to be BIG, to be PROFESSIONAL.

As such, I wanted to layout a few common pitfalls I see smaller integrators fall into, and some bootstrap budget solutions that can take their businesses up a notch.

1) Scheduling.  I see way too many integrators still utilizing  Excel files to try an manage their technicians.  A job then pops up last-minute, the Excel file wasn’t updated, etc and now installs are missed.  I understand that not every business can afford Exchange and Outlook for every employee, and coordinating multiple Google Calendars, etc can be tedious at best.  For integrators looking for a great inexpensive scheduling tool, look toward something like Zoho Calendar.  You can set up each install crew as a “Group” and then assign them to a job on the calendar, which will trigger an email alert as well.  Since this is a web-based tool, installers can access it from their phones at any time.

2) Finishing jobs in a timely fashion.  This is a common issue any integration firm faces.  A job is scheduled to take 3 days, an issue with HDMI pops up, and guess what?  You need at least a “Day 4”.  This becomes especially hard on smaller firms with fewer installers, as they may be booked the next day on a new job.  Again, if there is not a great scheduling tool in place, typically the integrator can’t even begin to speculate on their return to site.  The Zoho Calendar tool again comes in nicely to at least get a look at the team’s upcoming schedule to give an educated guess.

Here is another piece of wisdom however every integrator should know.

Finishing on time is exponentially more important that starting on time.

People remember their experience based on how it was at the “peak”, (good or bad), and the “end”.  Leaving a job unfinished for a week will kill your referral business and your client’s attitude, and may even have them withholding your final check.

Starting a day or two late will be an annoyance to say the least.  However, if you start late, and kick in some extra hours onsite to catch up and finish on time, I guarantee that client will be more impressed with your work ethic and professionalism than they would have if you started and ended on time.

3) Answering the phone.  Larger firms usually have at least someone around for the client to talk to when things go wrong onsite.  Even if it’s not the person who can do anything to solve the issue, it sure feels nice to talk to someone as opposed to leaving a message at the beep.

I think most people try to avoid confrontation whenever possible, but there is something to be said for picking up the phone, especially when we know that the caller most likely has a problem.  The little advantage you gain by hearing the issue first on voicemail and having time to formulate a response is lost as the customer boils over awaiting your call.

Pick up the phone right away.  Listen first, repeat the issue, and clarify that you heard correctly.  Then if you need time, gracefully ask for it.

“Mr. Client.  I share your concern, and I’d like to provide a true remedy as opposed to a band-aid.  I am going to explore a couple of options and then get back to you in the next hour or two to offer a solution.  What number can I reach you at later today?”

4) Returning Calls.  Believe it or not, this is a huge problem as well, especially with smaller firms.  The success of your business relies on returning calls.  Whether it is to follow-up on a sales inquiry or get back to people on solutions to their problems, no response is bad for business.  Scheduled follow-up is also a must in planning future sales calls, or remembering to call back in the first quarter when your clients new budgets come out.  Again, a great free tool from Zoho is Zoho CRM.  It allows you to manage contacts, store quotes, schedule follow-up, etc.  It is also web-based, accessible from anywhere, and it syncs with the Zoho Calendar that you are now using to track your job schedule.  It’s also free up to 3 users.  If you have more people that need access, but can’t afford to pay, you can set up a “Sales”, “Operations”, and “Management” login and give different levels of access to certain job functions.

It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to do things right. 

It takes a little determination to develop a process and tackle a slight learning curve on some new tools.  It also takes some discipline to follow the process you have set up.  However, once processes are in place and followed, they make your company look like the real deal, and more on par with your larger competitors.  It also provides a platform for you to grow, as it takes the pressure off of you as the business owner to run every aspect of the business day-to-day, and allow you to focus on making your business bigger and better.

Mark C.

REDBAND_Coxon

Mark has been in the IT & AV field for over 12 years. He currently works as an Account manager with  Horizon Display and is a contributor with various AV industry publications. You can follow Mark on Twitter @AVPhenom.  The expressed opinions are his own…You have been warned!

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

 

Episode 1: REDBAND RADIO

Here is the First Episode of REDBAND RADIO!

Check it out and Let us know what you think.

REDBANDep1

http://avnation.tv/shows/redband-radio/red-001/

REDBAND: My InfoComm 2013 Disappointments By Mike Brandes

infocomm2013cn2

Last week, I wrote about the best things I saw at InfoComm 2013. Today, the subject are a few duds, for me at least. These products aren’t necessarily poor products, but products that either are not fully ready for market, or not quite ready for any application of mine. It’s a short list, but it represents multiple manufacturers and vendors.

1. Enterprise level wireless display streaming

There are more than a few companies, AV or otherwise, offering solutions for “enterprise level” wireless desktop display. Some of the true AV heavyweights all the way to 802.11 wireless companies are offering software and hardware designed to allow users to wirelessly display their device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc) to projectors and flat panel displays. Obviously this represents a huge need in the AV market, specifically for me in Higher Education. Wireless display would be a huge boost for my conference rooms and boardrooms, since often these rooms don’t have any technology built into the existing tables. Unfortunately, the downside is these devices aren’t capable of handling high frame rate. Static content looks great, simple PowerPoint, SpreadSheets, word documents are exceptional. However, animation in powerpoint, youtube videos etc are all lacking at this time.

Exception: Barco Clickshare- Barco’s solution is great, it works well, handles higher frame rate than competitors; the only downside is for me it’s cost prohibited at an advertised price of $4900.00 per location.

2. Lampless Projectors

Managing technology in 100+ rooms across three campuses isn’t incredibly easy. Especially when dealing with projectors that are unmonitored, meaning they aren’t capable of reporting status or information back. I was really excited to see the evolution of lampless projection, this year, in hopes I could ditch my supply of extra lamps in favor of quality laser projectors. However, while there were more manufacturers and options this year for lampless projection, I was still incredibly underwhelmed. Great strides are being made in projectors to accommodate more ANSI lumen capabilities in a small chassis, however, the lampless projectors all seemed dim dull and lacking color profiles necessary to be useful in my applications. I’m really hoping to be able to migrate to lampless projectors one day, I’m just waiting for them to have more robust color, higher brightness and contrast and have crisper images.

What did you think?

Were there any products or ideas that stood out at this year’s InfoComm that might not be “completely ready”

Mike Brandes

squareglasses6

Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: We’re in your ear!

redbandcam3

 

REDBAND is the word of day! Today I’m sitting on my back deck writing this update and feeling like a boss! I have tons of updates:

- REDBAND has officially signed with AVnation.tv. Starting this week we will debut our REDBAND podcast. The first show was secretly taped in Orlando while at Infocomm 2013. Basically Mike Brandes, Mark Coxon, myself and George Tucker sneaked into the recording room and talked about what we witnessed first hand at the show. Not all of the REDBAND bloggers were there but they will be moving forward. We are still working out the schedule for future episodes, since we are all out in the field on a daily basis.

-With the podcast news comes podcast ideas. REDBAND will be looking for feedback from the show. We will have weekly features and will depend on feedback from the listeners to make it more interactive. One feature we will be doing is a TOP 5 every show. We have some off the wall  ideas to start us off  but we will be looking for listener feedback to fuel it.

-PODCAST guests? Yes would love to bring on Guests. If you want in please let me know and we will schedule it. You have something to say, want to debate topic or us,  all are welcomed.

-You may ask whats the direction of the podcast? Well it’s not your Dad’s podcast. We do not have sponsors. We do not have advertising. We run with scissors and operate live without a net. Its unfiltered,unedited, raw shop talk about what we love and do in our industry.

-This week we introduce 2 new members to REDBAND. Matt Scott from Omega Audiovisual and a Player to be named later. Matt brings his style, hair and an international views to REDBAND.  The player to be named later is an industry pro who fits right in with REDBAND’s opinionate views but will have to use an alias in order to protect the innocent. We are always looking for more. If your interested send me an email…chrisneto@avshout.com

Look for the podcast this week!

Thanks again for following AVShout.com and REDBAND. I truley appreciate the all the feedback I recieved both online and while at infocomm. Keep it coming.

Thanks again and look for more news soon!

Chris