Blog - The insider

10/12/2008 - InAVate's man on the inside blogs about the UK AV industry. This week he's feeling festive and presents us the 12 days of Christmas for the AV industry.

On the first day of Christmas an Official receiver sent to me, a letter telling me that my 2nd largest customer had gone bust owing me £200K.

On the second day of Christmas my Bank Manager sent to me, 2 bounced cheques and a letter warning me about bad debts in the current financial crisis.

On the third day of Christmas my main supplier sent to me, 3 faulty projectors, 2 ceiling mounts (both with the wrong attachment plates) and a reminder that I hadn't paid last month's account.

On the fourth day of Christmas my sub contract installation labour sent to me, 4 invoices where he had over charged, 3 installation reports, 2 faulty projectors and a VGA lead with one end torn off.

On the fifth day of Christmas my favourite distributor sent me 5 Christmas special offers, 4 useless flyers, 3 product catalogues, 2 RGB distribution amplifiers and a faulty projector.

On the sixth day of Christmas 6 of my staff rang in with 'man flu', my bank manager bounced 5 of my cheques, a manufacturer sent me 4 of the wrong projectors, I had 3 service calls but no engineers (all down with 'man flu'), 2 angry e mails and a letter from the Official Receiver telling me that my 4th largest customer had gone bust owing me 40K.

On the seventh day of Christmas I lost 7 projects I had quoted on, had 6 projects cancelled, the bank manager bounced another 5 of my cheques, 4 more customers went bust on me, got 3 letters from the bank manager (£20 each), had arguments with 2 customers and my e mail account crashed.

On the eight day of Christmas 8 of my staff were now off with 'man flu', I had 7 engineering call outs, another 6 bounced cheques, 5 more bust customers, 4 suppliers threatening legal action for non payment of the
account, 3 staff resigned to go to my main competitor, 2 suppliers delivered the wrong kit to site and 1 aggressive letter from the bank manager.

On the ninth day of Christmas I sold 9 projectors (but only made £20 on each), made 8 staff redundant, bounced 7 more cheques, got Solicitors letters from 6 suppliers threatening court action, had only 5 staff off
with 'man flu' (one was female), wrote 4 quotes, sent 3 e mails (account now fixed), faxed 2 suppliers complete lies about when I was going to pay them and had 1 engineering call out (and an engineer to go to site).

On the 10th day of Christmas I surveyed 10 classrooms for 'bang and hang' installs, sent 9 quotes, made 8 pro-active calls, sent 7 e mails, wrote 6 letters to various Official receivers asking for some money (well you have to live in hope), sold 5 plasma screens (total gross profit £150), broke 4 VGA leads trying to do an install, lied to 3 suppliers about when their invoices would be paid, had 2 cheques bounced by the bank manager and swore loudly when I whacked my thumb with a hammer whilst on site. :-(

On the 11th day of Christmas I found out I had lost 11 quotes, bounced 10 cheques, had 9 engineering call outs, had 8 staff off sick (again), sent 7 faxes, had 6 arguments (mostly with customers), made 5 appointments, broke 4 finger nails whilst hanging a projector on site, made 3 more staff redundant, sold 2 whiteboards (total profit £60) and received another nasty letter from the bank manager.

On the 12th day of Christmas I shut up shop and went to the pub for the rest of the day...........

Merry Christmas everyone!

12/11/2008 15:45 pm - Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps..

So the credit crunch continues to bite. The Bank of England drops the base rate by 1.5% and those of us on variable tracker rate mortgages breathe a small sigh of relief and have more money to spend in the pub on a Friday evening. But are things really as bad as they seem? To be honest I don't think they are. The media have hyped this out of all proportion, scared everyone and we have put ourselves into this mess.

Sure the banks are to blame too and the problems with LIBOR won't go away overnight, but I really don't think things are that bad. Projects are still happening, sales are still being made and the pubs are still
serving beer.

The AV industry will continue to do projects, the trains will continue to run and the sun will come up in the morning. The projects may not be as big and glitzy as they once were but they are still around. We just
need to look for them.

It's not the end of the world, not yet anyway. Mine's a pint and I'll have some Salt & Vinegar crisps too. The world looks better already!

14/10/2008 4:10 pm - Make mine a triple!

So, another AV Awards is over and done. The back slapping, self congratulation and drinking competition is finished and we all went back to work with a large hangover and wondering why we didn't win the Installation Of The Year award. We may have been all smiles at the awards piss up but deep down we all know we're in trouble. RBS, HBOS and Lloyds are now effectively under Government control, everyone is twitchy about credit and 1 company every minute is going bust in the UK. Great Britain Limited is on the rocks and taking a battering in this unprecedented storm we find ourselves facing.

So where do we go from here? Whilst an industry awards shin-dig is a nice thing to have, how much does it benefit the industry? How does it improve the standing of the AV professional in the eyes of others? Not much I think. The Park Lane Hilton was packed full of our industry colleagues but I didn't spot anyone from the big building contractors, not a single Architect, no project managers. Even the AV consultants were a bit thin on the ground. That's worrying.

So what would those outside the industry have seen if they had turned up? A load of AV professionals in their best togs, drinking as much as possible and pretending to be friends with their competitors who they would secretly love to go bust. The AV Awards may not cure the industry ills, but does any inward looking awards ceremony in any industry?

If we want to promote the industry outside of the world of AV, then the AV Awards or the InAVation Awards are a good place to do it. A chance to mix with some of the best in the industry, understand what makes us all tick in a non threatening environment and have a relaxing evening. Let's hope that we open up this type of event to others soon.

And having staggered out of the bar at 3.15am somewhat the worse for wear and needing the magic beer taxi to get me back to my crappy 1 star hotel, I can confirm that it was a jolly good piss up indeed. But I still can't work out why I didn't win the Installation Of The Year Award. Never mind, there's always next time. Let's just make sure we have a good time and party like it's the end of the world, or at least this industry as we know it. Because it might just be. Whoever invented Paracetamol has done well out of the Audiovisual trade.

Barman, make mine a triple..........

2/10/2008 9:30 am

So, the credit crunch bites deep and hard in some places. We in the AV industry are not immune to the dangers. B&B has been part nationalised, HBOS is in the process of being bought by Lloyds TSB, Lehman Brothers has gone to the wall - who's next?

One thing is for certain, all these bank mergers, takeovers and failures can mean only two things - job losses and fewer AV projects. Banking and law provide a lot of project work for the AV industry and with people not spending money, that will mean a downturn in our business in this sector. I imagine there are a few heads of AV in some of the banks who are also feeling very nervous about their job security - after all, if you aren't going to spend money on AV why have an expensive AV department?

So what do we do to combat this? Well for the dealers, find yourself some new customers in new markets, offer top level support and service and go for the long term relationship. Spread your risk, control your costs and ride the choppy waters we all find ourselves in.

Manufacturers - keep on producing new products that add value to the industry and markets you operate in. Don't stop the R&D, hold the margins and the prices.

As for the end users - spend the budgets you have. Investing in AV technologies is one way of cutting long term costs for your business.

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