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Any Tips from the Pros?


Hello all,

I am in the process of starting a Sound Reinforcement/Install company and was wondering if any of you had any words of advice business-wise or other that could help me.

Thanks in advance and have a great day!


Hal Bissinger/COMSYSTEC:
Always get as much money up front as you can and be careful of who you do business with to begin with. NEVER extend credit, you are not a bank.


Karl P(eterson):
While I don't consider myself quite a "Pro" yet, I do have some experiences here, and will toss them out for what they are worth.

0 - I just thought of this one, and even though this list is in no particular order, it belongs first. - Develop a respectful, calm attitude, but also be passionate and excited about your work. You are selling yourself every day, present to people something you would like to, keeps things like expletives and disrespectful attitudes to a minimum, the more people like you, not only will you have a better time, but they will respect you more, and be inclined to use you again, and even use you for more than they originally planned(!)

1st off, make sure you have or have access to a good structural engineer, make sure you never hang anything without his explicit ok, in writing. His ok to your materials, methods, and if possible even arrange for him to look at the work once its done. This is important should it ever fail.

2nd off, General competency and understanding of all of the aspects of audio is a must before ever setting your head on the block. By this I mean from how a tape player reads a tape, to how interconnects work and the electrical differences in balanced/unbalanced and line level/mic level etc etc, to how power dampening works, a good understanding of speaker projection, what over laping coverage patterns do etc, to how the room reacts to all of the above. You don't need to be able to write a thesis on the subject, but you need to comprehend well enough that you can explain it to an average teenager (assuming they will listen<g>).

3rd, Another requirement is that you be able to actually design a system, be that on paper or in your head you need to be able to think through the whole signal path, have enough understanding of all the different parts to know how to do what you want to do, and how to implement it, and then draw it at the end so that you can provide accurate drawings to the client when you are finished.

4th, You need to know enough (and even more than enough) of all the different pieces, as well as know how they interact so that you can troubleshoot problems when they arise. Notice I didn't say if. They will arise, and you need to be comfortable with fixing them.

5th, While not absolutely necessary, it would be very advantageous to you if you were a three dimensional thinker. Being able to quickly visualize a whole system in your mind, be that one that actually exists or one that only lives on the drawing board, in detail can be extremely helpful. To be able to move around the signal path in your mind, figure out how to do things, problems that might arise, and maybe see a better way to revise something, or save some money with a different plan. In the end learning to think like this only helps you.

6th, NEVER STOP LEARNING! Go to different venues. From high schools to arenas, from coffee shops to mega churches. Listen to the systems, analyze them, learn from mistakes, pick up on the good ideas. Spend time and go to the trade shows, talk to the manufacturers. Go to the syn-aud-cons and the of the world. Never stop learning..... and to a certain extent never stop experimenting (so long as it is the right place and time).

7th, Have good measurement tools. From smaart to tef and sim, from spl meters to quality ac/dc current clamps and power quality meters. Get all the tools you need to do your job right. Learn how to use your tools, you will fix problems you may never even knew you had, and be able to fix things that others simply aren't equipped to, or could comprehend were a problem.

8th, When you don't know - ask! Even if you have to pay for the privilege. Nothing is worse than assuring someone you know what your doing, and the problem not getting resolved.

9th, When you go about hiring people, take the time and find those people with beliefs that are in line with this. They will be selling your business just as much as you, and they need to understand the importance of a quality job done to the greatest degree of excellence possible.

10th, get good wire labeling equipment. Labeling all the wires correctly with a good on-wire labeler not only looks professional, but is so nice when troubleshooting and working on the system.

In the end, I cant stress the first point to much, have a good attitude, strive to do your best, and never stop trying to achieve it. You will spend a lot of money in test equipment, in good help, in quality tools, in good software, in good equipment to demo and install. But price yourself fairly, and people will talk, and every night, you know that your doing the best you can, and that your customers are happy, and everything has been done "right".

Maybe I am old fashioned, but you know what? People seem to like that, and people liking you - thats how you get business, and keep it.

Karl "Do Your Best" P


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