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…

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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 .



  1. T-A-P!

    I like the premise here. Not all revenue is good revenue. He has a system he doesn’t like. He feels he has made the major investment and now wants to make a minimal one to try and fix the mistake.

    From your perspective, being the hero doesn’t pay you anything, and, odds are you will be hamstringed by the limits of the sub par equipment, meaning now in his mind, the end result, (which you have little control over) is a reflection of your work.
    Many integrators like to “swing” everytime they are at the plate, but sometimes the game dictates it may be better to “walk”.

  2. What a great post. i’m loathe to admit, but on a couple of occasions we’ve been bit by the “swing at everything” bug. In fact one job was strikingly similar to the one you’ve described. We bid. The “squad” undercut us. We went in to clean up the mess. And guess who came out in the red, with mud on their face no less?

    Every project has it’s point of no return. Once the integrity of the installation has been compromised, most clients truly do not want to know what it will actually take to fix it. Most often it’s a lose-lose proposition for the integrator.

    Business isn’t about more customers. It’s about more profit. And I’ve never made much money cleaning up other people’s messes….

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