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Topic:
The old "whats your budget?" question?
This thread has 41 replies. Displaying posts 16 through 30.
Post 16 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 09:10
Rob Grabon
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Charge for your time.

If they're not willing to shell out a hundred or two for your consultation, they're not your client. Offer to credit upon install. And give them a ballpark on site, while chatting take notes with numbers associated. Show them the notes, here's your budget. Then if they want/need more numbers, charge again for design.

Best Buy will do it for fee, we'll we all know you get what you pay for.
Technology is cheap, Time is expensive.
Post 17 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 09:20
highfigh
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On November 30, 2017 at 08:45, buzz said...
Designers have a skill that that our industry lacks — milking customers. And the designers don’t leave money for us on the table. Part of the problem is that there is a whole ecosystem supporting the designers. There is a huge markup on their goods and the designer can get the customer a discount while making a good commission for themselves. Designers expect a commission from us, but our margins are often less than the commission expected by the designer. We’ve all had experiences where the customer finds a product out on the Internet for less than our cost from a distributor, including free shipping and no sales tax.

All of this undermines our credibility and makes it difficult for us to get a fair deal.

Our tact is to provide a painless experience for the designers and GCs. A group of them know that we solve problems and will not hesitate to recommend us. It’s interesting that we are the only sub on the job that is allowed onsite, unsupervised.

The problem is that they work in a visual realm, not audio- good sound requires the equipment to have certain properties, including size. Speakers are seen as a wart on otherwise perfect skin, or worse. Designers are also huge suck-ups and their goal is to leave a trail of testiments to their design prowess, by way of telling and reinforcing their client's belief that what they're getting is right for them. Some of the stuff I have seen was horrendous or very odd and in one case, the designer assumed that the client would be impressed by her flying to NYC to meet with a new client in the middle of a project and postponing a meeting that had been scheduled months before. She also assumed the client, who is very wealthy, would be OK shelling out the money for anything recommended, regardless of cost. Wrong on both counts. $4K for each of four outdoor lighting fixtures and $1600 for a small, hammered Copper sink in the butler's pantry? Even someone with money can think that's excessive.

It's a PITA when they source things online but I won't go out of my way if it fails, even if it's something I sell. They know I'll support it if I sell it and that has value. As far as being unsupervised, it's common for people to use the same contractors who were recommended by friends and business associates and if they proved worthy before, they leave a lock box with a key. I got the keys and security code for one house soon after starting the work, originally begun more than ten years ago. I have security codes for other houses and others will give me a key while I'm working for them. The last thing I want is for someone to say that I stole from them- that would be death for any work I might want in the future.

However, I won't suck up and I won't inflate the benefits of what I sell or install- it's not hard to find out that it wasn't true.
My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Post 18 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 10:56
Fins
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I think you’ve all missed the biggest difference between us and the designer. It’s the wife factor. I would say that everyone of us here that has gone through buying or building a home with a wife said “sure, whatever” to at least 90% of the decorating decisions. Most men will go along with whatever their wife wants for design and decor if we can have one room in an unfinished basement where we can have a big tv, the chair we love, and no one bothering us.

As for what we provide, wives rarely appreciate, at least at the beginning. I tell wives all the time, husbands buy our products and services, but it ends up the wives that appreciate it and actually use our systems. It’s wives that really like easy whole house music and a tv that works with one button. But, we have to get to the finished stage for them to understand this.
Civil War reenactment is LARPing for people with no imagination.

OP | Post 19 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 11:03
FunHouse Texas
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And rarely do designers have to come back and troubleshoot a chair that is not working right before the playoff game on Friday afternoon.
I AM responsible for typographical errors!
"We are just like Geeksquad - if Geeksquad knew what they were doing."
Post 20 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 11:07
highfigh
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On November 30, 2017 at 10:56, Fins said...
I think you’ve all missed the biggest difference between us and the designer. It’s the wife factor. I would say that everyone of us here that has gone through buying or building a home with a wife said “sure, whatever” to at least 90% of the decorating decisions. Most men will go along with whatever their wife wants for design and decor if we can have one room in an unfinished basement where we can have a big tv, the chair we love, and no one bothering us.

As for what we provide, wives rarely appreciate, at least at the beginning. I tell wives all the time, husbands buy our products and services, but it ends up the wives that appreciate it and actually use our systems. It’s wives that really like easy whole house music and a tv that works with one button. But, we have to get to the finished stage for them to understand this.

Not missed, at all- "Happy wife, happy life", right? However, some husbands are not willing to lose some things and that can and does include their music. When I was discussing the upcoming changes with the guy who has all of the equipment spread through the house, his wife walked past and said "You guys are such dorks!"- we just nodded in agreement, saying "Yes, yes we are". Their daughter was the one who sat next to me while I was setting up the remote in 2007- looked at it, reached out and pressed the Play DVD button, pressed play and then sat back to watch a movie. She was 3 years old!

It's important to listen, more than just about anything else. We also need to make sure we discuss this with both present, rather than finish and have one turn into a screaming banshee. It's also important to pay attention to the one who's responsible for the family's income- sometimes, it's both, other times, it's only one but our job is to solve problems and make the client happy with us and what we do.
My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Post 21 made on Thursday November 30, 2017 at 11:07
highfigh
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On November 30, 2017 at 11:03, FunHouse Texas said...
And rarely do designers have to come back and troubleshoot a chair that is not working right before the playoff game on Friday afternoon.

Even if the chair cost $6000, or more.
My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Post 22 made on Friday December 1, 2017 at 09:59
Craig Aguiar-Winter
Senior Member
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I see so many good points here. Properly qualifying the customer, getting to know more than just the person that emailed you, balancing our requirements with designers' disillusions, understanding that what a customer thinks is high quality is very different from what we think is high quality (and that can go either direction causing to either over sell, or under sell) and last but not least, the world is full of douche bags.

One of the common things I like that I'm seeing is that guys are valuing their own time. If we don't there's no way the client will.

Going back to the douche bag thing... the last "client" I had before I started charging for design had me interested in his project. I was helping him choose equipment. He was very much a DIYer and had an interest in learning about, and wanted to set up his system, and just needed guidance. I was quoting him fair prices and he said he would buy the projector, and speakers, etc. from me. I assisted him with the rough in and sold him a couple of things. But he wound up buying most everything on-line, some of it was a shitty Chinese HDMI and IR repeater. I got paid for my time for the rough in and made a small amount on the rack cooling system and rack I sold him, but lost big time on the DOZENS of emails and two site visits I made. He didn't see any value in that time because I didn't show him that it was valuable. That's my fault. I was planning to make all of the money on the products, which didn't happen. ( I also got paid when I sold him a Xantech IR repeater and a Redmere HDMI later on).

Now, I'll spend about an hour before I expect to start getting paid. This can be phone calls, emails, and if they live close to me or are on the way, even a quick site visit. During this first bit of communication I clearly state how my process works, and that I charge for design. I don't refund that later as it in it self is a product. The client can take the information in the design and use it to purchase their own equipment. They can take it to another CI and have them beat it, or trash it tell them their design is better. Whatever, if they wash their hands of me then we both got what we wanted. Most people get that as it's why they call us. They don't know, and we do. If they don't then they are a douche and we don't want them as clients.

Design is it's own thing and has a value to it. Don't devalue yourself and your time.

Going back to the what's your budget question. Black Friday week, a guy I know through a friend called me and says, "I would like your assistance with two systems. Upstairs is a TV and I would like something simple like a sound bar, but in the basement I want to do something better. It's unfinished and I'll have you wire it. Down there I want to do something higher end. What do you think of this... ". He texted me a link to a Polk RM6750 sub sat package for $300.


"No problem", I say.... "Here's how my process works..." I went on to explain my design fee, which was more than his speaker system. I also explained what to expect from that Polk speaker system and went on to qualify him a bit on what he wanted to achieve.

He said he would continue to look and I haven't heard back. I don't expect I will His image of high end doesn't really suit what it would cost to have me do the work. But nothing was lost. He is educated. I spent about 20 minutes on it, and it's not a job that would have earned much anyway. We ended the phone call on good terms so I figure if he eventually does see the value in what I do then maybe he'll call back and we'll both get what we want.

Not everybody wants, needs, or is prepared to pay for what we do, but it doesn't make it less valuable.

Craig
My wife says I can't do sarcasm. She says I just sound like an a$$hole.
OP | Post 23 made on Friday December 1, 2017 at 11:17
FunHouse Texas
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great info - from all - I think I am going to generate 3-4 packages that will start the ball rolling. if they want to deviate from those them perhaps a design fee is assessed.
I AM responsible for typographical errors!
"We are just like Geeksquad - if Geeksquad knew what they were doing."
Post 24 made on Friday December 1, 2017 at 11:45
osiris
Long Time Member
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On December 1, 2017 at 11:17, FunHouse Texas said...
great info - from all - I think I am going to generate 3-4 packages that will start the ball rolling. if they want to deviate from those them perhaps a design fee is assessed.

As an exercise for establishing budget ranges in your own mind to use in conversation, this is a good idea. Don't provide your prospects with parts lists for free.
Post 25 made on Friday December 1, 2017 at 12:09
Archibald "Harry" Tuttle
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On November 29, 2017 at 17:13, FunHouse Texas said...
I just had a potential client let me know that after a 1 hour consultation, education on home theater equipment, layout, options and a bid, - he bought all his equipment online last weekend and found someone to install it for $350. Projector, 7.1 speakers, screen, all wiring and connections.
FML..

That weren't a potential client, that what you call a tire kicker.
I came into this game for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man alone.
Post 26 made on Friday December 1, 2017 at 12:28
Craig Aguiar-Winter
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On December 1, 2017 at 11:17, FunHouse Texas said...
great info - from all - I think I am going to generate 3-4 packages that will start the ball rolling. if they want to deviate from those them perhaps a design fee is assessed.

I think this is a spectacular idea. In my recent instance where the neighbour wanted the same TV installation, I was very lucky. I pulled up the invoice on my phone and said this is what you should expect, plus anything you add.

I'm going to develop the same sort of thing that I can keep for presentations. Maybe on an Excel spread sheet where I can change prices easily, as i don;y use any quoting software like D-Tools.

Except I would use them as tools to educate the customer on what systems cost. I would still charge a design fee as each system is different and requires it's own personal touch.


Craig
My wife says I can't do sarcasm. She says I just sound like an a$$hole.
Post 27 made on Sunday December 3, 2017 at 12:33
Anthony
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On November 30, 2017 at 09:05, highfigh said...
I have the luxury of getting most of my business from a small group of clients, through repeat business or referrals, without needing to worry about whether they can afford the work- they can. Even people who I had done work for in the past eventually meet, so I need to be careful to do things well and make sure everything works easily because I know the topic will come up. One of my equipment reps referred someone to me and I got three more jobs out of that but those were about fixing operational problems, organizing cables/streamlining the systems and adding some functionality by feeding network cabling & hard wiring, rather than relying on WiFi in homes that eat the signal.

In qualifying the client, I start by asking them what they want the system to do- what they watch/listen to and where they want this. I don't get into budget until I have an idea about the scale of the work because they won't know how much it will cost to do distributed audio the right way, but I also ask how important it is to have great sound and video, rather than 'good enough'. It's important to be realistic in our proposals- not everyone wants or needs the best even as much as we think it's important. I went to look at the wiring and check out some problems yesterday- I have written about a client who sends me the most work- it's his wife's parents. They asked if the receiver and speakers could go away, since they're OK with small portable speakers that can play Spotify from their phones and tablets. These speakers are in the living room and they just don't sit there to listen to music- it's mostly the office, kitchen, dining room and sun room, which has their main TV. Sound quality isn't as important and he even said "Well, I'm not Tom (the son in law), who has Dynaudio speakers as the 5.1 system and others throughout the main areas of the house.

Same here. Just wanted to add that we are a full service/turnkey solutions*.
so what I want to add is
1) the meeting is at the clients home/ installation place (need to know what we are working with)
2) we find it useful if a GC or ID is involved to have them there at the initial meeting so that scope can be well understood by all (if a designer has talked them into a 32" TV in the top right corner here is no need for us to be there, if the GC will take care of pulling wire, soundproofing, painting or building the proscenium... then there is no use including it in the cost)
3) for the initial part (aka "tell me your dream") we find it is better to include other family members if it makes sense (is there a 4 year old that should not touch
anything, a 6 year old that can use it, a 12 year old gamer, a 90 year old that is half blind) it also helps with the user profiles (we tend to create user profiles on the remotes with presets and favourite channels)

* what I mean is if some construction is needed we can take care of it, if design is needed we can take care of it, we see the room as being just as important to the experience as the equipment itself, if your neck hurts because of display placement wrt seats, if you "need to turn it down because others are sleeping" ..... you won't enjoy the experience as much.
...
Post 28 made on Sunday December 3, 2017 at 12:53
Anthony
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On December 1, 2017 at 09:59, Craig Aguiar-Winter said...
Now, I'll spend about an hour before I expect to start getting paid. This can be phone calls, emails, and if they live close to me or are on the way, even a quick site visit. During this first bit of communication I clearly state how my process works, and that I charge for design. I don't refund that later as it in it self is a product. The client can take the information in the design and use it to purchase their own equipment. They can take it to another CI and have them beat it, or trash it tell them their design is better. Whatever, if they wash their hands of me then we both got what we wanted. Most people get that as it's why they call us. They don't know, and we do. If they don't then they are a douche and we don't want them as clients.

agree 100%
...
Post 29 made on Sunday December 3, 2017 at 14:13
Anthony
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On December 1, 2017 at 11:17, FunHouse Texas said...
great info - from all - I think I am going to generate 3-4 packages that will start the ball rolling. if they want to deviate from those them perhaps a design fee is assessed.

1)If all you do is sell equipment or ultra simple "installs" ( sell TV stand and TV, go to the guys home put TV on stand, plug it in) you can do something like that.

But if you do jobs that are more complicated then that

2) there should always be a design fee

3) you are better off with sub-packages and rough ranges ( for whole home audio "speakers at the low end will be a00-b00 per room at the high end x000-z000") this way it will help drive the conversation and you get a better idea of their "dream"
...
Post 30 made on Sunday December 3, 2017 at 22:56
MNTommyBoy
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Craig, you are too nice.

Get on Portal, at least (it is free), and that should take of some of that BS. You can easily throw a proposal together for - Prewire, Product, Finish labor... whatever. Throw some language in the notes, or your contract, whatever works, and sell it as all or nothing. You're a turnkey, service-based guy - sell it that way. That will also weed out the not-for-you prospects that are looking [craigslist] wiring only.
"Every word you just said was wrong." ~ Luke Skywalker
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