When Bad Install Goes Good
By Natalie Hope McDonald
In the animal kingdom, they're called predators. In the custom installation business, they're the wayward technicians who wreak havoc on legitimate installers by undercutting estimates and walking away from botched jobs. While these proverbial bloodsuckers can drain business dry, they also pose significant risks to clients who open their doors to a series of problems, debt, and in some cases, suspicion about the custom market in general. It's often up to legitimate installers to do the seemingly impossible, to pick up the pieces and set the record straight.
"Unprofessional installers threaten the custom installation industry, just as unprofessional retailers hurt the retail A/V industry as a whole," says Gary Yacoubian, vice president of Myer Emco Audio Video. "Manufacturers and distributors need to realize that. We, as an industry, need to be supportive by raising standards and espousing professionalism or we run the risk of going the way of other industries in the realm of home improvement."
Bottom line, says Yacoubian, "Coming across as a pro is not the same thing as being a pro."
The Bad and The Ugly
In an industry where seeing is often believing, uninformed clients aren't always aware when an installer is taking them for a ride, especially when it comes down to more complicated networking or electronics installations. The reason most clients look to professionals is two-fold. One reason is trust, but the other is more a matter of desperation, it's "I can't set the time on my VCR" times 10. They simply can't do it themselves. That's why the hardship of trying to bolster good business practice in theory may come across as unsexy in a luxury industry that strives to be anything but that. The importance of certification and training, while it's integral to reputation, can't always compete with the lowest price in the business. Undercutting is a quick fix that non-professionals use to get business in the first place, regardless of whether they can even finish the jobs.