Commerical Opportunities: Strategies for Successfully Expanding Your Residential Systems Integration Business Into Commercial
As a public relations agency focused on the pro A/V and home theater markets, we talk with leading system integrators on nearly a daily basis. Based on our conversations with them, one of the key trends we’ve recognized is that A/V residential systems integrators are weathering the down economy by tapping into the light commercial market.
Several systems integrators who we remain in close contact with were happy to share their experiences in this area. Among their key insights: Experience in the residential area is certainly applicable to the commercial side of the business, but you need to be sure to secure the proper legal certifications, beef up on your communication skills, and keep abreast of popular trends in the industry. Those who have made the journey say the commercial side is another world—but one in which you can become comfortable if you do your homework and start small.
Legalities of Commercial Integration
Because a commercial project is often on a much larger scale than residential applications, an integrator must carry a much larger insurance premium. Therefore, it’s important for an integrator to research the proper insurance requirements before enlisting in a commercial job.
“When you’re dealing with larger companies and contractors like Fortune 500 companies, the insurance requirements will be much higher,” says Kevin Miller, CEO and owner of Coitcom. “The average insurance liability can be $5 million, which is a substantial amount more than residential projects entail.”
In addition to lining up the insurance, it’s also important to determine if you are meeting all local safety codes, because they differ vastly from residential codes.
According to Mike Clery, owner of Wildcard Home Theater, commercial A/V integration jobs often use a different kind of wire, controls, etc., than a residential project. He suggests checking out the state electrical codes prior to beginning your commercial A/V business. The state will provide guidelines for local wiring that can help you ensure you’re up to code. You can also meet with the business inspector or electrical inspector that will be handling your project and ask them for the local requirements.