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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.