Choosing the Right Audio Video and Home Technology Expert

With so many choices, brands, and cost factors, choosing your Audio Video and Home Technology Expert can feel like a shot in the dark. It’s hard to pick an expert when you don’t know what criteria to evaluate them with. The only real variable most people understand is the final price for what they’re asking for. Like with any subcontractor, we’d caution against picking the cheapest option. However, here are essential points to consider when selecting your Home Technology Expert and audio-video installer.

Will They Service It?

When meeting with a Home Technology Expert, ask how their service department works. What if they install something that constantly needs reboots to stay running? Will they work until they remedy that issue? Is every problem on your dime or theirs? Is there a time constraint on how long they’ll offer service after the installation? Will they service it at all? You may be surprised how many wouldn’t answer that last question with an immediate “yes.”

Unfortunately, we’ve heard too many stories of customers left high and dry with malfunctioning systems with no resolution in sight. We regularly get calls from these homeowners who have been abandoned by the original installers of their home systems. Last week, two different homeowners called about intermittent internet connections and a theater system randomly losing audio within 15 minutes of being turned on. Given that this technology becomes an integral part of your home, ensuring that your installer treats it with the same care you would is crucial.

A reliable Audio Video Installer will have a dedicated service department so you can spend more time enjoying your system and less time waiting for repairs. That’s why here at SoundVision, we have three dedicated staff members available to service any of the hundreds of homes we have worked on. On any given day, we have about a dozen other skilled technicians throughout the Bay Area. That way, if any of our customers have a critical issue requiring immediate attention, we have someone within 15 minutes of them every day.

Clarity of Charges

We have heard some AV installers with ambiguous or confusing proposals. Sometimes, they can be as simple as “Sound system, $20,500.” Some will mention a brand they will be using. Meanwhile, many of these proposals will have labor entirely disjointed from any individual installation or subsystem (like lighting control or sound system).

A lack of descriptiveness indicates that they aren’t entirely aware of how much these installations will cost. If they know how much a sound system is, how are they unsure of roughly how much labor it will take to install? What if the overall install cost was too high, and you want to scale back your project scope? You’d have no idea where to start.

That’s a big reason our proposals are heavily segmented here at SoundVision. We clearly outline how everything costs and how much labor is required for that item. If you want a single speaker in a closet, we’ll outline the speaker item, its price, its associated labor, the amplifier, the wire run to both, and the install time of the amplifier. If you want to check out an example of our proposals, you can click here. This way, if you’re over budget, you can see what rooms or systems are the smallest sacrifice and keep premium options in primary areas.

Excerpt of a proposal to mount an 85″ TV, highlighting all the parts and labor necessary to unpack, hang and set up the TV and all peripherals.

When evaluating your options, it is okay if their proposals are less detailed than ours. However, greater transparency on where your money is going is a better indication of a working professional.

Is It Designed Around You?

Some integrators are more focused on automating their procedures instead of designing a system tailored to your home. Imagine this scenario: you order a few small amplifiers for your sound system, and the expert automatically adds a 6-foot-tall equipment rack. It’s like paying for a large shipping box to mail a single sheet of paper. Not only that, this integrator also wanted to include a computer for remote access and a power supply under remote management.

A good Home Technology Expert won’t recommend unnecessary gear. It’s okay to ask for a detailed explanation of the systems being installed. A massive rack for a few amplifiers and unnecessary computers might mean you’re paying for things you don’t need. More often than not, you can get all the features you want with minimal hardware.

Are They Pushing Certain Brands On You?

If it seems like an Audio Video/Home Technology Expert is urging you to adopt a specific brand, there’s a good chance they are. To help boost sales, emerging technology brands will offer large discounts to Home Technology Experts. This creates a financial incentive for their untested products to be sold over established and reliable competitors.

If this financial incentive strategy succeeds, the emerging technology brand will have its new and untested product installed in numerous homes. It’s only after homeowners begin using these new home technology products that issues emerge. They reveal themselves to be unreliable or a pain to use. As a result, the Home Technology Experts never recommend the product again. The lack of sales leads to the manufacturer going under. Unfortunately, homeowners are then left with a product nobody wants and can no longer be serviced. This cycle repeats a number of times, and these untested products successfully find their way into customer homes over and over again.

That’s why, when we come across new products we believe our customers will enjoy, we test them internally to ensure they are reliable and user-friendly. We put them through the wringer and try to break them. We will internally test products for over a year to ensure they are ready for the market.

When selecting a Home Technology Expert, it’s good to be mindful of this. If you feel you have a brand being pushed on you, we would suggest searching the brand’s name to see if they’ve been around for a while. Most home technology product companies that have been around for five years will likely have long-time support at the minimum.

Do You Make Any Decisions?

Do they listen to what you want and present a few options? Or do they make the decisions for you? It’s okay if they don’t immediately offer options to you, but if you question the cost or choice of an item, it’s okay to ask for 2-3 other options they recommend. Alternatively, you can ask why they feel a certain product is the right choice for you to better clarify why they picked an item for you. That way, you can validate if their decision truly meets your needs.t

Minimally Educated Staff

SoundVision’s educated staff wearing shoe covers and protecting the customer’s home with heavy duty work blankets and cloth-bottom ladders.

Will your home have advanced systems such as Lutron, Control4 or Savant? These systems are custom-built for you with proprietary equipment and require certified programmers. If these systems are specified for your home installation, it’s perfectly okay to ask how many programmers they have. 

An integrator with only one programmer in a company can cause project slowdowns and future service delays. This single programmer is responsible for handling all new projects and servicing an ever-growing list of past clients. This makes their schedule increasingly packed. If you find your project suddenly needs programming, you might end up waiting weeks until their next available slot. If your project runs long and you have to reschedule, you could also be looking at some serious delays.

Issues After Installation

This problem only gets worse after the installation if your home needs a programming adjustment or repair. This could leave you with a broken system for weeks! We have heard of other installations where people were stuck with their lights on 24/7 until someone could come by and opted to call us for a quicker resolution. If he decides to leave the company along with all their knowledge of how your system is designed, any future resolutions will be handled by “the next guy.” The next person would have to attempt to understand the past employee’s work or start over!

All these pains can be stripped by having multiple staff members who are certified programmers. Almost all our technicians are certified to program at least one bespoke system. We keep your programming files in our system so that anyone, including our dedicated service department, can assist you with your system right when you need us.

Poor Craftsmanship

Do they care about the quality of their work? Are the TVs crooked? Are the back of their network racks a bundle of messy, unlabeled wires? Will there be exposed wires in primary spaces, like below the TV? Clean installations by professionals should address all these issues before leaving the job.

Finding the Right Audio Video and Home Technology Expert

Finding the right people to bring your dream home to life can be challenging. This is a great list to help you find an expert for your home project. If quality craftsmanship, easy-to-use systems, and a transparent process are something you value, give SoundVision a call at 415-456-7000 or tell us about your project on our contact page.

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