Are you in the market for a new custom home theater system? Nothing brings a movie to life the way a first class surround sound system and high quality display can. But these systems can be expensive.
Getting the most enjoyment out of your investment comes down to choosing the absolute best installation team. But there’s more to it than just a flashy showroom and expensive equipment. We’ll break down exactly what you need to know and what you need to find out about each company from which you solicit bids.
Start With Referrals
The first step in finding potential companies to work with is to talk with friends, family, and business contacts about who they’ve used in the past. This is a great way to get first hand information about a personal experience. A city the size of Birmingham will have a large number of businesses providing these sorts of services. So if one name pops up again and again, make sure to take note.
Here are a few questions you should ask.
What was the sales process like? If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a system, you need to be sure it is designed specifically for your needs. A good sales person should ask a lot of questions. The more information they gather about when, how, and what you watch gives them a better idea of how to design the perfect system for your watching preferences.
They should also address important details such as integrating the system so that it has as little impact as possible on the overall decor of your home. Using a projector and screen that can hide away when not in use might be a better fit than a flat screen TV on the wall.
How did the installation team perform? This is crucial. These team members will be working inside your home. Were they consistently on-time? Were they polite to all members of the family? Did they protect elements of the house like floors by wearing booties over their shoes and using drop cloths for tools and equipment? Did they have a solid understanding of the installation based on the system you were sold?
Ease of Use
How easy is the system to use? This is another important question. There’s no point in spending thousands of dollars for a state of the art custom home theater if it’s too complicated to use. The use of a universal remote control is a must in today’s systems. But these should be programmed in a way that anyone from the kids to the grandparent can use it without having to reference instructions every time they turn on the TV.
Controls should be intuitive and well laid out. Operations such as ‘On’ and ‘Off’ should require no more than one press of a button. If it’s more complicated than that, they’re not doing their job.
How reliable is the system? Finding someone that has had a system for a couple of years is a great resource. The reality of electronic equipment is that most all of it will eventually fail. But things such as regular maintenance and heat control can extend the life of electronics. Reliability is key in being able to enjoy your entertainment system. You don’t want to wonder if it’s going to turn on each time you go to use it.
Customer Service and Support
What is their customer service like? Like it or not, at some point or another you’re probably going to require a service call to replace broken equipment or troubleshoot an issue. Find out how quickly each company responds to service calls. Were the technicians typically able to resolve problems in a timely manner? Were they polite and courteous?
Find out if they have a 24 hour service line. Many home theater and home automation companies are small and will be closed on weekends. But they should have a dedicated support person that is on-call 7 days per week to try to resolve issues over the phone if possible. If a company doesn’t put a strong emphasis on support and customer service don’t even bother soliciting a bid from them as you will undoubtedly be unhappy with the relationship.
Are they passionate about what they do? The best businesses in any industry are passionate about their profession. They take pride in offering their customers the best products and services available. The company you choose for your system should keep you up to date with all of the latest and greatest equipment to ensure that you keep enjoying your theater.
Solicit Multiple Bids
Even if you’ve already made up your mind about who you are going to use, solicit multiple bids. This will allow you to check pricing against other vendors. A word of caution on price. The best installation companies are rarely the cheapest. The idea behind getting multiple bids is just to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. If one bid comes in 20% higher but the company is solid, it will be well worth the additional cost to have the project handled by a company that has proven track record.
This should give you a great starting point for finding the installation team for your audio video project.