Audio and visual technology is a critical part of every party, event, meeting, and even our homes and cars. It has been around long enough that there is a good chance there is already an AV company doing the work at your events. Unless some major catastrophe inspires you to find a new AV company, there may be no reason to consider other options. So how do you know if you have hired the right AV company?
Choosing a good AV provider involves researching the gear they use, their experience, and building a working relationship. The largest factors at play for most customers is cost, convenience, and communication. If you are working with an AV company already, there are a few tests you can try to see if that company is really the best fit.
Have they brought any new gear with them lately?
Some kinds of gear don’t age quickly and others do. If you are using an in house system, then this is probably out of the AV company’s hands anyway, but it is one question to find out if the company is staying up to date. For instance, video switching and streaming is still using full HD (1920 x 1080) as a standard, but 4K is looming on the horizon, and being requested for the major events of top technology companies. There isn’t much you can do with old gear in a 4K world, so ask around and see if they are thinking about it. Once the company gear is appropriately aged, they should be strategizing how to deploy the next iteration of electronics.
How do they respond when something goes wrong?
Unfortunately, bad things can happen to anyone, so measuring a company by the way they respond is critical. If the crew freaked out and started pointing fingers, this isn’t a good sign. Nor is it too good if they were totally ambivalent. Clearly the best is to work through the problem and find a solution as quickly as possible. The only thing better than that, would be an offer to refund or discount the equipment that should have worked. Smoothing over the rough spots in in AV starts with staying calm, but shouldn’t happen again. Learning from your mistakes builds value.
Is it easy to communicate and organize with your AV provider?
Smart technicians end up wearing many hats in the AV world. They often have to take on some producing responsibilities to bridge the gap between crew and client. Usually this is a good thing, but if said technician is overloaded, you might get the cold shoulder. This is to no fault of the technician, it means the company should have someone on staff to manage your account and make sure you are getting customer service when you need it. Find an AV provider that has prioritized customer interactions.
Is the price matching inflation, staying the same, or going up over time?
Costs rise over time. Growing economies have an increase in demand so a Coke won’t cost $1 forever. However, regularly performing the same work is the bread and butter of many AV companies. This kind of rinse and repeat for businesses becomes more cost effective over time. If the price is steadily rising without any good reason, it might be time to pull the plug. An accumulated expense of not taking action is much higher than working through a bid from another provider. Because the gear also depreciates in value, it is really the price of crew which slowly goes up. Contracts with preferred vendors creates a great opportunity to save costs. But as the Grail Knight said in Indiana Jones, “you must choose, wisely.”