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How to Make Money Selling More Than AV Systems

In a tough business climate, stability is key. As a result, many AV pros are focused on diversification. Their goal? Create new services or grow existing offerings in order to generate recurring, more predictable revenue, from maintenance contracts and training to content. Here's how.

Sound Solutions Northwest's preventative maintenance contracts are structured around twice-yearly visits to maintain and recalibrate the system. This casts the firm in a positive, proactive light and associates Nelson's company with a system that's working correctly versus one needing repair. As part of the deal, Sound Solutions Northwest also offers a 10 percent discount on system upgrades and 20 percent discount on service calls.

Keep in mind, service or maintenance agreements should fall outside the basic system warranty. In fact, Sound Solutions Northwest offers maintenance agreements with visits occurring at the end of warranties. "These [maintenance checks] are designed to go through the system from top to bottom. The client pays for that up front, but gets a 20 percent discount if they purchase it with the system."

When the contract is separate from the initial system purchase, it's typical to bill maintenance contracts on a monthly basis, benefiting the cash flow of both the client and the contractor. "The maintenance component [of the contract] usually calls for biannual or quarterly maintenance," says Lucy. "[Customers] would also receive preferred response time and rate. We will also, at times, price in and stock certain system components in the event of failure."

Many firms see increasing their services as a growth opportunity. Rob Geerdts of Arrow Audio, an integration firm in Kimberly, Wis., says his company sells service in 80-hour blocks, which works well for a local military base it supports. The blocks mean Arrow Audio is on call for as long as there's time left in a block.

"We haven't really done much with service contracts, though," Geerdts says. "Mostly because we don't think of it. We're busy working on what's in front of us."

Geerdts realizes that in order to commit itself to selling and maintaining service contacts, Arrow Audio would need to invest in the initiative. "We need dedicated staff," says Geerdts. "And we don't [currently] have anybody calling the customers on the back side. But it could be a good upside for our firm."



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