How to choose an A.V. provider
In the 20 plus years that Throw Distance A.V. S. has been on the map, we have had to face many questions and challenges from prospects and clients alike. The one question that pops up quite regularly is, how does one pick an Audio Visual partner best suited for their needs? Price point is the first thing that comes to mind and to that end this will be too obvious a point to make. Having said that please do not make that your sole motivator if you would like to be seen as a valuable prospect/client.
The reality is that, there is no easy one answer, as a matter of fact the variables are virtually endless. For simplicity directness and to address the priorities, we have narrowed it down to 5 answers.
- Who are you speaking with?
If a company is big enough they will have a sales and technical team. Some companies will have individuals who will fill both roles. ( A marker on size of company/MO ) Some Sales professionals are quite knowledgeable but you want to make sure that the quote has crossed the desk of a lead tech or technical director to have the seal of approval from the operational stand point.
The need for this step greatly diminishes when the event poses no real time line or technical complexity.
If an event is complex from a technical and time line stand, point then we suggest that you sit down with the Account Manager and Technical Director to nail down the requirements as a way of finalizing numbers and figures. This is also a good time to see the dynamics between Sales and Operations. Good interactions between the two will likely reflect a good working relationship and that concept should also reflect the onsite dynamics on show day. Note; Once confirmed, it is important to know that things will change, please let your A.V. team know of any changes big or small. These things can have a chain reaction that could affect technical requirements and time lines. Continual and clear communication is key.
- Theme and feel
It is important to convey your vision, so please be prepared to communicate that vision to your A.V. team. This can be deciphered with information such as venue, number of attendees and last but not least the type of event. A gala/party may have starkly different requirements from that of a general meeting. An A.V. partner worth their salt will be able to parley that vision into technical needs and budgetary information.
It is crucial to know the difference wants and needs and that, can again be articulated with your team.
- Front Work Front Work Front Work!!
In case you had not noticed and I cannot stress this enough, The upkeep and details need to be updated as they change with documents such as a Critical Path. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_path_method
This is really key for both the client and the A.V. company of your choosing. The risk of having partial to total malfunctions are virtually eradicated with such a document. You really have a great A.V. partner when they have taken the time to build share and upkeep such a document.
- Take care of your technical team
It is of the highest order to note that your A.V. partner is crucial in the success of your event. In many cases the hours are very long.
Often a team will come in very early to unload multiple tractor trailers worth of gear, set up the equipment, run through grueling rehearsal schedules, do the show and then tear down, long after everyone has gone home.
Also long gone are the days of the “Roadie” as well. You know, that individual that dragged his knuckles across the floor with heavy equipment between grunts and groans. This person is gone from our landscape, for the most part. Your technicians are, and should be highly skilled in their areas of technical expertise but more importantly they should be personable and service oriented . This is the marker of a great A.V. company.
A good A.V. company will address the concept of regular breaks and food for their crew. It has been my experience that the end client offers Kraft Services in a separate room for those individuals working for the duration of the show otherwise known as the Operate Crew. The alternative is having the crew leave the venue to get food elsewhere which can ultimately be an interruption in production.
5. An event in review
After all is said and done, a good A.V. partner will request a meeting with its client to discuss the particulars of the event. This is a great opportunity to discuss future events and any adjustments that can be made to the existing initial quote. A good A.V. partner will have no need to change the numbers in their favor nor in the client’s favor due to miscalculated labor/equipment or on site mishaps.