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Author Topic: a/v installation pricing  (Read 3026 times)

Ivan Beaver

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Re: a/v installation pricing
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2006, 07:39:50 PM »

Agreed.  I would also to your excellent list things like the loudspeaker system and it's design-to me the BIGGEST issue in sound system design.  If the customer buys a speaker system because "it rocks" in the MI store or "We heard it in so and so church" and tells the unfortunate installer to "put it in".  Now who is responsible when it does not perform as expected?  Surely the guy who didn't design it can't be-can he?  But what if he didn't "put it in right"?  Who is to determine what is "right"?

We would NEVER take on a job such as this, as there are simply way to many places for "errors" and problems and blame to be passed around.

One of the most boring parts of my job is to make sure that all the little stuff is accounted for in the design and equipment list.  Little things like do the number of floor jacks match up with the available pockets.  Does everything actually fit into the rack?  What about power requirements as you mention.  Do we have enough and the right "interfaces" between the different parts of the system?  Are there enough amp channels and of the correct power?  What about DSP outputs and capabilities.  But this is a very important part of my job.  If it doesn't get done properly, all sorts of last minute problems can crop up that cost time and money delays etc.

And so many more.

I also doubt that there are many (if any) consultants who would take on such a job after the customer buys a bunch of gear that they want the system designed around.

Yes, the designer (contractor or consultant) should listen very closely to what the customer wants and try to accomindate those needs.  But making sure they fit into the overall picture is what the real "design" part of the job is.

But when the customer really tries to save some money by buying all the gear themselves, there is a underlying problem that needs addressing.

We try to stay competitive with our pricing, but that is not to say that you can't search enough and buy it for less money.  But do not expect the service that we provide when you buy it from us. When all they are interested in is the price and not the value, that is exactly what they get, and usually end up spending more in the long run, due to problems, wrong gear etc.
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Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

Brad Weber

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Re: a/v installation pricing
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2006, 07:55:09 AM »

Negotiation is always possible.  Large commercial projects often include a process called Value Engineering.  In theory this is where the Contractors make suggestions that could potentially provide the Owner greater value such as a product that the designer may not have known of that could provide the same functionality for less money or an alternate approach to part of the design that might provide additional functionality with no additional cost.  It's a great idea and sometimes it works well, unfortunately it has often become more of a cost cutting than value adding exercise with the Owner expecting cost reductions and the Contractors trying to "modify" the design to offer these cost reductions.  We joke about it being "Valueless Re-engineering" as it too often simply results in attempts to redesign the system to make it cheaper rather than actually increasing the value being provided.  So I'm sure you could ask for something similar but with the same risks, that you might end up with responses that have both lower cost and lower quality and/or functionality.  However, asking for ideas on where you might reduce the cost is certainly not a bad idea, just make it clear where it is or isn't acceptable to impact the functionality or quality.

You can always play the games of telling one bidder "we like your bid but another bidder was $X lower on equipment" and then telling the other bidder that you like their bid but it was $Y higher than the other on labor.  Some bidders may respond readily to this and consider it almost part of the "game", some may do it but you lose good will with them and yet others may refuse to modify their bid and may even withdraw their bid when this type of thing starts.  But it certainly is not uncommon.

Unless you are getting just a great deal, I would suggest that you consider pulling out as much loose equipment as is practical.  Things like handheld mics and mic cables can not only often be purchased for a lower cost from someone like Guitar Center or Musician's Friend that sell these items by the hundreds and thousands, but you can probably also add these items as budget allows.

I usually caution clients that while there is always room for negotiation, this may have consequences.  If a contractor cuts out every bit of "slop" in their bid then any changes or little issues later on are more likely to be Change Orders and extra cost as you have quite simply negotiated out the contractor's ability to absorb those types of costs.  So cutting costs upfront can potentially end up costing more in the long run.  It is simply a risk/benefit balance, what is the potential cost in dollars or relationship versus what is the initial benefit in budget.  Sometimes it may make sense, other times it won't.
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Brad Weber
muse Audio Video
www.museav.com

Ivan Beaver

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Re: a/v installation pricing-value costing engineering
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2006, 10:23:29 AM »

We had a job once in which someone in the church hired an outside firm to "value engineer the job" not just our part.  They ended cutting out much of the infrastructure that we needed and because of a lot of other issues the church had to fire the value engineering company, "because it was costing us too much money".  The change orders that came in were many times what the "savings" were.  They spent a lot of money to save a little.

When they tried to go cheap (to save a few buck in one area) it cost them a whole lot more everywhere else.  The entire HVAC and electrical had to be redone in the ceiling.  We no longer had access above the ceiling, so the electrical conduit part of our job went way up. and so forth and so forth.

The really sad thing is that the church is going to be paying for this untill the time they move to a new church.  The light fixtures that were speced in (house lighting) were high output, lowerlife units and the plan was to have them mounted on the catwalk (one of the big things that was cut out) and the bulbs could easily be changed by just walking around and reaching from the catwalk.

But now, there is no access to the fixtures, short of bringing in a "pew hopper" and getting up to the bulbs.  So they wait untill about half the lights are out and then go through the BIG hassle of changing them.  Yo can't get a knuckle boom in there-it is on the 2nd floor, and they are sorry they ever tried to "value engineer" the job.

They also bought a nice 48 channel theatrical lighting system will all the nice fixtures.  But since there is no catwalk and easy access to the lights, they just leave them white and turn them on. Whoopeee!  They could have saved a lot of money on that end, but the value engineer company was "hell bent" on getting rid of a worthless thing-such as a catwalk, it didn't matter what advice any of the other trades tried to give them.  And the church suffered for it.

Now this is not just a rant on "value engineering", we do it all the time.  Very often there are things in the origional propposal that the customer does not need or want, but someone "thinks" it should be there, without ever discussing it with the customer.  However, we take into consideration ALL of the issues (pro and con) that this action will affect, and then make a determination of whether or not it is more important to remove it from the job or to leave it.

We don't really need 4 wheels on that car do we, surely 3 will do just fine, they will handle the weight and have less friction on the road and so forth.  Nevermind that little thing called "balance" and driveability.  Let's save some money. Laughing
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Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

Tom Young

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Re: a/v installation pricing
« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2006, 12:38:37 PM »

Silas-

Of course there may be wiggle room and/or negotiation. All you have to do is ask.

Just be sure not to beat a vendor up to the point where the final price is so much lower that there are going to be considerable short cuts in what is provided. Despite common sense, some vendors will allow themselves to be negotiated down and then they may discover that they cannot provide what is expected or needed.

Frankly; if a vendor readily agrees to a lower counter offer I would be disappointed that they are so wishy-washy OR had inflated their initial proposal.

Having said that; I "hate" negotiating based on a win/lose mentality. I almost always explain up front that my proposed fee is not inflated in expectation that it will be negotiated downwards. A small concession may be agreed to if a prospective client convinces me that they need to pay less. But I generally do not allow myself to be pushed too far and for the same reason, ie: I cannot provide what is needed and earn a living with less than a specific sum.

HTH
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Ivan Beaver

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Re: a/v installation pricing
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2006, 01:16:25 PM »

Our prices are not debatable.  That is because they are not inflated to begin with.  It takes a certain amount of profit in order to stay in business and be able to support the customer after the install is completed.

That being said, there are ways to save money with us.  As long as we get the infrastructure in place, certain items can be eliminated and added later.  These include things like playback equipment- recording equipment, wireless mics, maybe go with less expensive or a lower number of floor wedges.  Maybe even going with a less expensive console.  Generally you can almost always 70V loudspeakers later, as long as you have a path to run the wire.  

All of those things can easily be upgraded or added at a later date as more money becomes available.
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Can I have some more talent in the monitors--PLEASE?

Ivan Beaver
dB Audio & Video Inc.

ProSoundWeb Community

Re: a/v installation pricing
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2006, 01:16:25 PM »


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