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Well, it’s February – the month of Valentine’s Day and thoughts of love fill the air.

If for a moment we can suspend the romantic connotations, I can’t help asking the question, “Do you love your AV integrator?”  If so, why?  And if not, why not?

One of the more common questions I will ask in the early phase of getting to know a new potential client is, “Who are you working with currently?  Are you happy with their performance?”  The answers I get are often enlightening.  Sometimes the customer will say, “Oh yes.  We are very satisfied with Company ABC.”  – Which causes me to wonder why they are even talking to me at all.  Not that I mind, you understand, just curious.

Other times, the answer may be, “We have been working with Company XYZ and they came in with a great price, but every time we call for service – which is far too frequently – it will take weeks to get a service technician on site and then a few days after the service visit, the system fails again.”  Many times I will ask, “So are you getting pricing from XYZ for this project?”  All too often the answer is, “Yes” – Which causes me to wonder whether or not they are serious about doing business with an integrator who is capable of supporting their audiovisual needs.

So what does all of this have to do with Valentine’s Day?  The answer is “Relationship.”

In a numbers driven bid environment, the word “relationship” is often viewed as a dirty word.  In reality it is not.  We may call it different things – partnership, preferred vendor, or supplier of record.  In the end, the meaning is the same.  It is based on the fundamental understanding that despite all efforts to level the playing field, all potential bidders are not created equal; that some have demonstrated over time that they are better equipped to meet the customer’s needs.  They consistently deliver on their promises and fulfill their obligations.

Just as a couple’s relationship flourishes through years of trust and commitment, having a relationship with a select preferred vendor allows a customer to retain greater mindshare with the partner, provides greater freedom to explore and develop design concepts, shorten project timelines and in the process, simplify procurement through pre-negotiated discount pricing.

So do you love your AV integrator?  If the answer is “yes”, I would strongly encourage you to explore the benefits of a preferred vendor relationship.

John Williams is a Sales Engineer for Dobil Laboratories, a nationally recognized award winning audiovisual systems integrator based in Pittsburgh, PA.  With over 40 years in the industry, John specializes in creative solutions for audiovisual design and integration in higher education, corporate and house of worship applications.

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During a recent site survey, “I had the opportunity to spend some time in my customer’s office,” John Williams.  As I waited for him to finish a brief phone conversation, I did what any good salesperson would do – I looked around at the photos, mementos, and other items of personal significance he had chosen to display.  There were the usual family photos, framed certifications, and commendations; but one framed citation particularly caught my eye.

Todd was a retired Navy lieutenant.  During his tenure, he had served on multiple nuclear submarines.  On the occasion of his retirement, his Commanding Officer presented him with a plaque which now hangs prominently on his office wall.  It is a quote attributed to Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, who directed the original development of naval nuclear propulsion.  Here’s what it said:

“Responsibility is a unique concept.
It can only reside and inhere in an individual.
You can share it with others but your portion is not diminished.
You may delegate it but it is still with you.
You may disclaim it but you cannot divest yourself of it.
Even if you do not recognize it or admit its presence, you cannot escape it.
If responsibility is rightfully yours, no evasion or ignorance or passing the blame can shift the burden to someone else.
Unless you can point your finger at the man who is responsible when something goes wrong, then you have never had anyone really responsible.”

I share this with you because as I read it, my thoughts immediately turned to many of the project managers here at Dobil I have had the privilege to work with throughout the years.  In a world filled with “spin” and finger-pointing, they have repeatedly demonstrated what it means to “be responsible.” Audiovisual systems integration is only as good as the last guy standing on the project who has the strength of character to accept responsibility for resolving whatever problems the project may present – especially when to do so is painful or costly.

On behalf of my customers who count on you, Thanks, guys. You really are special.  I am so grateful for the privilege of working with you!

 

John Williams is a Sales Engineer for Dobil Laboratories, a nationally recognized award-winning audiovisual systems integrator based in Pittsburgh, PA.  With over 40 years in the industry, John specializes in creative solutions for audiovisual design and integration in higher education, corporate and house of worship applications.