I don’t know what everyone was worried about this Thanksgiving. Black Friday was slammed. I thought it was going to be a wonderful relaxing day. I was wrong. Say hello to camping equipment, tents and waiting in the Texas rain all night long for the big retail shops to open. I don’t know what everyone was thinking, but it was a mad house. You would never think the economy was in a funk — at least not there.
But I digress; let’s talk about the custom side of the industry. I know a lot of people in our profession who are successful CEDIA-certified companies, with incredible reputations. They are still not seeing the outrageous spending side of the holidays I saw on Black Friday. Times have been tough, and integrators are finding new ways to continuously reinvent themselves and the services they are presenting to their customers. These electronic systems contractors are striving daily to not only present a unique product, but to do so at a credible margin that represents good profit. It is hard. It takes more time right now and it takes patience. Now I know that the Thanksgiving shopping experience may not be as profitable or as fun as some others, but I have learned something from the whole experience.
I was one of the shoppers who saved my money until I could get every dollar’s worth of value from the manufacturers. Our custom clients are no different. The one thing I know is that new building construction is down and retrofit construction is up for our business.
Our clients have not been moving as much, upsizing their homes or downsizing their properties as frequently. The stock market has taken care of that. However, our custom clients are spending money. They may not be spending money as often, but they are spending more money when they do spend at all.
As I meet with individual clients and offer my services, I reflect on how I would want to spend my money this Christmas. How would I want to be encouraged to spend money for a specialized custom A/V system?
I know. I would want to know everything about it. What does it offer today, and how can I upgrade easily when technology moves faster and the next gizmo becomes available? What foundations can I lay today that offers an easy upgrade path and simple service capability? What types of features can my new system access that will allow me to have newer and better technology at my fingertips later?
This thought process has been invaluable this holiday season. The clients have the money. They are just scared to spend it on something that loses its value faster than overnight Enron stock. Invest in your clients this holiday season. Know what they value. Deliver what meets that need and what holds its value and in the long run you will have a wonderful Christmas. Guaranteed.