Does ?do-it-yourself? have a place in the world of pro AV? On more than one occasion I've recently spoken to someone I assume is an integrator, and in discussing the specifics of a project, realize I'm actually speaking to the end-customer.
Does â€œdo-it-yourselfâ€ have a place in the world of pro AV? On more than one occasion I've recently spoken to someone I assume is an integrator, and in discussing the specifics of a project, realize I'm actually speaking to the end-customer. Certainly in some end-user organizations, there are qualified AV installers who don't fall into the category of â€œamateur do-it-yourselfer.â€ I'm speaking more specifically about unqualified end-users who have convinced an integrator to simply sell them the gear, and let them save a few bucks by installing it themselves.
I admit I feel somewhat hypocritical criticizing this trend because I, too, am an incurable do-it-yourselfer. But in projects where AV equipment is installed and used in public or commercial spaces, DIY AV is something we, as an industry, shouldn't be encouraging. It's mostly happening in cost-sensitive markets such as education and HOW and through integrators who haven't fully made the transition from box sellers to value-added service providers. But a quick need to meet quota, and a convincing customer with a little bit of knowledge can make any of us susceptible.
Yet the safety and liability issues here are obvious, and the past tragedies are legendary â€” including speakers hung from carry handles and improper grounding techniques, just to name a few.
Allowing the customer to manage his own AV integration project is also bad business. When the sound or video quality isn't there, the end-user will likely blame the equipment, bad-mouth your firm, and call another integrator who'll yank your equipment and start over. You've lost potential business, and the customer has paid twice for the same job.
In traditional building trades, code issues and zoning laws primarily related to safety offer the side-benefit of strongly supporting the working professionals. But as a specialized trade, pro AV has few such protections. Permits often aren't needed, and no building inspector approves the final result.
And let's face it: Do-it-yourselfers don't always need us. They can increasingly source almost any piece of AV gear in consumer outlets like Best Buy and Staples. Installing it themselves is even encouraged in some cases because it sells more gear.
The best defense against the do-it-yourself mentality is to distance yourself and your company from it. As an industry, the establishment of recognized professional certifications and the promotion of what we offer the outside world are major steps forward. If you're not already aware of it, check out InfoComm's AVolution campaign. All AV professionals should be involved in these efforts. Such initiatives communicate the value that pro AV offers. Letting customers be their own AV installer does exactly the opposite.