Getting through the process of coming up with your company’s unique audio branding and designing a sound system that can support it is a major achievement. You’re now literally just one step away from putting that system into play and reaping the rewards it promised.
However, before audio installation can begin, you need to pick a company to carry it out. Make the right choice, and you’re well on your way to offering an incredible customer experience. Make the wrong choice and that decision could be costly.
THE 7 QUESTIONS TO ASK A COMMERCIAL AUDIO PARTNER
Fortunately, there are only seven questions you need to ask an audio installation company in order to tell whether or not they’ll be able to successfully complete this last step.
1. ARE YOU CERTIFIED IN AUDIO INSTALLATION, BONDED, AND INSURED?
First and foremost, ask to see that the company is certified to carry out a commercial audio installation. If they’re not, there’s no reason in moving forward. The same goes for being bonded and insured. Not only are there too many financial – and legal – liabilities involved with hiring a company whose installers aren’t bonded and insured, but lacking those necessary credentials also doesn’t speak well for the business.
2. DO YOU HAVE REFERENCES?
This is easily the second-most important question. You want proof that the company has successfully installed other commercial audio systems in the past and that their clients were happy with the results. Ideally, it’s best if deployments they reference resemble yours as much as possible. It’s great to see that the company succeeded with a business that required 6 speakers, but if yours needs 14, it’s better to know they have experience with that kind of sound system.
3. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND?
Impressive references can make it easy to forget about this question, but it’s vital that you ask it for a couple of reasons. The first is that “pop-up” companies are actually a fairly big problem in this industry. Installers may leave their employer to start their own business. Unfortunately, they might not have the full skill set to achieve the kinds of high-end installations most companies want.
At first, their work might seem satisfactory, even good enough to earn them a flattering testimonial (e.g. like the one you’d receive by asking that last question). It’s only after a few years that problems start becoming apparent.
Don’t just settle for good feedback. It means a lot more if it comes from clients who are still happy with the work after five years or more.
Longevity also speaks to how much an installer will stand behind their service agreement. A company that just started a year ago may feel very ambitious when it comes to that contract. But it might be years before they’re actually called upon to back it up. If an audio installation company has been in business for a decade or more, you can tell they are 100% behind the service contacts they offer clients.
4. WHAT VENDORS DO YOU WORK WITH?
While a successful installation is your goal, it obviously helps if it involves high-quality hardware. This is why you should ask about their vendor partnerships. If they don’t partner with household names, your system may be well-installed but sound awful (it may even include counterfeit equipment). Ask about how long they’ve been with the vendor, as well. This is just one more way to get a sense for what kind of experience they bring to the table. You should also ask them about their price structure they have with each vendor. How does this affect the kind of pricing they’re able to offer you?
5. WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE TIME FOR MAINTENANCE?
This is an important one for a few reasons. If you run into any maintenance or repair needs for any reason, how quickly can your AV provider address concerns, updates, or fix any hardware? The answer they give should provide insight into how dedicated they are to service after the sale is complete. Professional commercial A/V partners who value a high level of service and quality will be able to address any maintenance requests or questions very quickly. This is also true of the vendors they work with. If they have vendor partners that can arrive at your business location quickly, this can make all the difference in the world. A professional installation company will have built long lasting relationships with professional, high quality vendors.
6. DO YOU OFFER ONGOING TRAINING?
Fast forward to the installation being complete. Your speakers are all exactly where they need to be, and you have the perfect brand-fit playlist go fuel them. Everything is in its place. Except, you have no idea how it works. And that is why you want to ask about training. The installer should not only train your team following installation but also make themselves available in the future if you have any questions. Just like with service contracts, this is one more reason it pays to work with a company that has been around for at least a decade. It means they’re unlikely to disappear next year when you might need their help working your sound system.
7. DO YOU PROVIDE CUSTOMIZED WARRANTIES?
Given the price and importance of your system, the final question you want to ask is about warranties.
Specifically, ask if these warranties are customized for each installation. You don’t want to find out after it’s too late that your generic warranty doesn’t cover your unique system.
DOWNLOAD OUR COMPLETE GUIDE TO DESIGNING AUDIO FOR YOUR RESTAURANT.
HIRING THE RIGHT AUDIO INSTALLATION COMPANYIt’s worth reemphasizing that the audio installation company you hire has the power to make or break this all-important final step. So, although it might be tempting to go with an installer that checks most of the boxes above – especially if they offer attractive pricing or a quick turnaround – it’s too big of a risk. Hold out for a company that gives you all the right answers because they’ll also give you the installation required to make the most of your sound system.