If you assume that old ways will carry you through this new market, you won’t be around long enough to rethink. The market is shifting under the economic pressures, but also under the dawn of fast, robust, user-friendly options that are cheap and way cool. Mostly they are fresh. They are way more appealing than the older solutions some think of as stodgy, tried-and-true, home integration systems.

Sure, we know our options are solid, commercial grade and dependable. The client doesn’t. And those newly enthusiastic zealots who carry the new stuff don’t. And all those bad installs during the dreaded birthing of this industry are telling repeat customers to try something new. And the Apple craze is making “new” really sexy and fresh.

Relationships cannot be assumed. Your channels and clients are watching and thinking new ways look more viable. They are open to new messages. It’s a whole new landscape—a new playing ground. Old relationships may not be top of mind for consumers, especially when an enthusiastic newbie walks into their office. Fresh is in.

Riding the New Wave

Fresh is bringing more players into the market. Don’t discredit them. Do not assume that new entrants will have the same struggles you had. Likely they won’t. Likely they are riding the back of a new wave, delivering cool messages, offering a different message. Sure they’ve benefited from the older guard, but that’s how things work. Early isn’t necessarily better. It just is. You have to figure out how to shift the way you sell and, perhaps, what you sell as well as how you can compete in this new world.

Use your experience because your clients still favor stability. Get client testimonials; favor clients that have been with you for years. Take some risks and find better ways to service, be faster, be innovative. Understand cloud, and start shifting your world to meet virtual, head on. Check out monitoring systems; get GPS tracking so you can shorten your response time. Make sure your guys have two monitors or three monitors, or whatever they need to be super productive. Listen and talk lots with your staff. They see a ton more than you do. Listen and respond. Always. Even if you are responding with “can’t do now.” Encourage flat and open in your firm. Everyone has something to add.

Lead With Value

All this is leading to a fast-uptake, no-hassles, best-value offering. I say value, because I don’t want price to be the picture in your mind. Lead with value. What is the client getting for value? How will your channel relationship benefit through you versus the competition? And you can’t just say it. You have to mean it and do it. And to do that, you must get your staff on board completely. If you have a naysayer, work with them for a while, but don’t make them a project. Over and over I have learned that the problem people are never, seriously NEVER, worth the damage to your culture and team morale.

Fresh is failing fast. Get the dynamic of change infused into your culture, so that everyone embraces fresh. However be very clear about how change comes about. You need processes around everything you do in your firm—including fresh, including change.

My next article will address processes and how they can be the best and most effective partner to fresh. If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at Marilyn@lascala.ca. CR

Marilyn Sanford is principal of Pacifitech Media Systems Inc., LaScala Vancouver, La Scala Victoria, Smart Home Shop in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Previous articlePanamax/Furman Makes BlueBOLT Even Easier
Next articleTechnology on Display

Marilyn is a Registered Professional Accountant and a CEDIA Fellow. Marilyn was attracted to the Custom Electronics field in 1992 when she cofounded a firm in Vancouver,  Canada. Marilyn merged this business in 2000 with La Scala in Vancouver and sold the firm in 2013. She is a founding member of CEDIA Canada, and President from 1996 through 1999. From 2000 through 2007 she sat on the International CEDIA Board and was an Executive member in the latter half of her term. Marilyn is currently involved with two startup firms offering services to the Custom Installation Market: LincEdge, offering online labor sharing software, and b3pro, linking service providers and business advisors to CI firms.