In an earlier post, we discussed former InfoComm president Scott Walker’s accurate prediction that the AV revolution would be digitized. With this post, we’ll explore Walker’s recommendations for achieving this business shift.

Understand Your Clients’ Pain Points

Once you’re aware of your clients’ needs and frustrations, you can adjust your project offering or overall business services to help them address their global, long-term challenges, rather than merely solving a single issue in the local office. Does a client need the same solution across multiple offices? Does the client have a strategic plan for employee training or content services? These are some of the questions clients don’t know to ask. Questions like these represent an opportunity for AV professionals to help clients and, in turn, help themselves.

Subcontract with Partners

According to Walker, “You don’t have to solve every problem with your current staff, and you don’t have to hire a bunch of people.” Instead, identify and partner with complementary professionals who can provide services you don’t currently offer. This way, the next time you receive an RFP that includes services that are outside your business scope, you can find partners and increase your capabilities.

Create a New Profession

“There’s no dusty old AV business guidebook,” Walker says. “As we move into a software-based industry, what we’re delivering is a service; there are endless ways to deliver a service.” All current trends indicate that hardware is shifting into the cloud (HaaS), and AV businesses must adopt additional practices to cover these new areas of service. Consider these factors:

– Will you bill for software support services annually, or on a monthly retainer?
– Will you offer quarterly software training for a client’s new employees?
– Should you acquire a complementary service provider, or subcontract as needed?

No industry-wide correct answers exist. It’s up to you to determine the right choices for your business.

Achieving the Shift: How Waveguide Did It

Clients needed services that Waveguide didn’t offer, leading Walker and his team to ask the question: Why can’t we do those things? “Clients will tell you what they wish your business offered,” Walker says, “and we had to decide whether it made sense for us to provide those services.” Waveguide chose to expand its business model from AV, IT, and acoustics consulting to include alternate services like technology management, software automation, and strategic planning. Walker and his team created divisions within the company to serve as centers of excellence, and hired the appropriate staff to support them.

About this shift, Walker says, “We started our software programming and managed services division in 2003, when we saw a need to develop deeper engagement with our clients. Since then, our average project is probably 10 times bigger than it used to be, and we’re working around the globe on very large projects where we have less and less time to interact with the client toward custom decision making.”

Walker took his own advice: he developed an understanding of his clients’ pains, determined the best way for his business to solve them, and adapted Waveguide to fit within the demands of his client base – from custom art to large-scale replication. These changes have led to successes he didn’t think possible, creating an enhanced model for a new lease on business. “Of course,” Walker says, “seeing what needs to happen and following through are two entirely different things. Execution is probably more important than the initial vision.”

The Future of Audio Is Loud and Clear

If your love of audio began when you were in a band or managing the AV equipment at concerts, and you now own a professional installed audio business, you’re equipped to meet this next challenge. You were able to imagine the trajectory of your life at that time, analyze it, and adjust your course in time to make a career move. “We can’t stay inside the conventional lines of our industry anymore,” Walker states. “As an industry, we have to realize that we must draw new lines wherever there is a need. We will succeed by evolving our business.” You’ve adapted before. It’s time to do it again.