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post #31 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 01:36 PM
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Heck I don't want to pay my HVAC guy his rates but I do. Everythings cost. If one doesn't want to pay our rate then that is their choice. Market value as they say.

The reason most CIs don't like to work with old gear as they don't know if it works, how it works fully, how much time it takes to deal with your gear. If it is our gear I know how long things will take and will give a fair bid. You are asking me to work with something I may or may not have dealt with, so I bid high it is all about at the end of the day being able to put gas in the car and food on the table. Yes some will MSRP some items and you can say yes or no. Paying for leading edge is always expensive with anything.
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post #32 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I think you misunderstood me. "Heck I don't want to pay my HVAC guy his rates but I do. Everythings cost. If one doesn't want to pay our rate then that is their choice. Market value as they say. " I don't mind the high price for install, it is definitely a very skilled commodity. It is the overpriced equipment. For instance, when I bought my first PJ, the local av store wanted 2k more than other authorized stores like avs. Look, I could pay 6k for a 720p SIM2 or a few grand less for a 1080p JVC that will provide equal or better picture quality and features.

"The reason most CIs don't like to work with old gear as they don't know if it works, how it works fully, how much time it takes to deal with your gear. If it is our gear I know how long things will take and will give a fair bid. " Not talking about old equipment. I don't know that I buy you don't know how it works. Whether it is a barebones Panasonic or a Titan they all still have similar function. On/off, source, etc. One just works much better. Maybe from the programming end some are more difficult? I still feel like an installer refusing to work on a theater because it doesn't have there equipment is silly. But if they have enough business and can afford to turn people away, more power to them.

Regardless, I understand there is always a trade off of pro vs diy. I just wish the home theater stores would be willing to carry lower end products and get true theater experience to the masses, not the HTIB experience. My first theater had very basic equipment but everyone was blown away with the experience and the cost. Most people assume a home theater has to cost at least 100k.

I do very much appreciate the help and advice you have given.
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post #33 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 04:52 PM
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I think you misunderstood me. "Heck I don't want to pay my HVAC guy his rates but I do. Everythings cost. If one doesn't want to pay our rate then that is their choice. Market value as they say. " I don't mind the high price for install, it is definitely a very skilled commodity. It is the overpriced equipment. For instance, when I bought my first PJ, the local av store wanted 2k more than other authorized stores like avs. Look, I could pay 6k for a 720p SIM2 or a few grand less for a 1080p JVC that will provide equal or better picture quality and features.

"The reason most CIs don't like to work with old gear as they don't know if it works, how it works fully, how much time it takes to deal with your gear. If it is our gear I know how long things will take and will give a fair bid. " Not talking about old equipment. I don't know that I buy you don't know how it works. Whether it is a barebones Panasonic or a Titan they all still have similar function. On/off, source, etc. One just works much better. Maybe from the programming end some are more difficult? I still feel like an installer refusing to work on a theater because it doesn't have there equipment is silly. But if they have enough business and can afford to turn people away, more power to them.

Regardless, I understand there is always a trade off of pro vs diy. I just wish the home theater stores would be willing to carry lower end products and get true theater experience to the masses, not the HTIB experience. My first theater had very basic equipment but everyone was blown away with the experience and the cost. Most people assume a home theater has to cost at least 100k.

I do very much appreciate the help and advice you have given.

I think the real question that comes up right now is "Why are you looking to install a Crestron system?" I recognize you have some hardware from your home purchase that you are hoping to use, but IMO you will end up spending far more money utilizing that hardware and having a Crestron system than just writing it off or selling it on Ebay and going with something else. Don't get me wrong, I think Crestron offers a lot (which is why I have a system) but whenever customers start asking the questions that you are asking, it usually means that a Crestron system isn't right for them.

Crestron systems are great for somebody who wants to hire a professional, give them a budget and a list of wants and expects a finished product. Not for somebody who likes the idea of Crestron but wants to purchase their own equipment and is looking for the Crestron dealer to "just" program the whole thing. There are many other systems out there and people who will help you automate them which will fully allow you to buy exactly the hardware you want and seek out the best prices for that equipment. Crestron just isn't one of them.
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post #34 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 05:17 PM
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Whether it is a barebones Panasonic or a Titan they all still have similar function. On/off, source, etc. One just works much better. Maybe from the programming end some are more difficult?

It is not the programming but compatibility which kills us. Recently we did a remote install which was supposed to be single day affair. A simple theater where we provided the projector and rest of the AV system sans the Sony LCD TV the customer had bought. Well, our guy gets down there, installs it and all is working. Thirty minutes later, the Sony TV shuts down claiming there is no signal on HDMI. They string a cable to the Blu-ray source directly and the TV lights up. Route it back through the processor and no joy. So the arrow points at the processor except that the same processor is driving the projector we sold and it was working perfectly. And again, even the Sony TV worked great for 30 minutes. Many, many tests later, and a number of phone calls back and forth and we hear that Sony TV has had this issue before and that a secret handshake forces a hard reset which fixes the problem. We do that and the system lights up and keeps working!!!

Needless to say, we did not get paid for our guy staying in LA for 4 days working on this. We ate the cost. Worse yet, he was a friend of the store so we had sold him the gear at very low margin. Just like you are asking . So we lost money on the whole thing. Had an upset customer in the interim who thought this was all our fault or that of the equipment we had sold him.

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I still feel like an installer refusing to work on a theater because it doesn't have there equipment is silly. But if they have enough business and can afford to turn people away, more power to them.

It is not that they like to turn away customers. It is just that the people in this industry as a whole, don't like customers like yourself or frankly most everyone who hangs out at AVS! I am serious. Most companies in this business like to come and bid a system, install it and go and not deal with DIY folks who want discounts, want to learn to do things themselves, etc. I personally think this is a bad attitude and reflects poorly on the industry as a whole. There is a much larger market waiting for us consisting of people who frequent places like AVS and we just have to figure out how we can work with them effectively.

I think if you search enough, you should be able to find a cooperative company to work with. Before I started my own business, I found a local guy to install the wiring in my system and I managed to source some of the components for him to install which were way below his cost.

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I just wish the home theater stores would be willing to carry lower end products and get true theater experience to the masses, not the HTIB experience.

Oh, this should not be a problem. At least it is not with ours. Companies should be able to offer a range of systems. We go from under $5K for a complete system to $500K for a theater and many price points in between. And none of this involves HTIB.

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post #35 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 05:26 PM
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It is just that the people in this industry as a whole, don't like customers like yourself or frankly most everyone who hangs out at AVS! I am serious.

I couldn't agree with this statement more. I'm sure a lot of dealers would disagree publicly but inside are saying @#$& when they are presented with a client who mentions AVS. It would be the same thing as a Kaliedescape dealer that hears somebody mention XBMC.

If a HA customer is reading/getting info on AVS, there is probably a better system out there for them than Crestron (with perhaps the exception of Prodigy). It isn't that the other system will perform better, but the customer's presence on AVS either means that they have some form of interest in the field or else has a strong opinion on price vs. features desired. Both of these to me says that they should stop looking at Crestron and search elsewhere.
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post #36 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 08:48 PM
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It is not the programming but compatibility which kills us. Recently we did a remote install which was supposed to be single day affair. A simple theater where we provided the projector and rest of the AV system sans the Sony LCD TV the customer had bought. Well, our guy gets down there, installs it and all is working. Thirty minutes later, the Sony TV shuts down claiming there is no signal on HDMI. They string a cable to the Blu-ray source directly and the TV lights up. Route it back through the processor and no joy. So the arrow points at the processor except that the same processor is driving the projector we sold and it was working perfectly. And again, even the Sony TV worked great for 30 minutes. Many, many tests later, and a number of phone calls back and forth and we hear that Sony TV has had this issue before and that a secret handshake forces a hard reset which fixes the problem. We do that and the system lights up and keeps working!!!

Needless to say, we did not get paid for our guy staying in LA for 4 days working on this. We ate the cost. Worse yet, he was a friend of the store so we had sold him the gear at very low margin. Just like you are asking . So we lost money on the whole thing. Had an upset customer in the interim who thought this was all our fault or that of the equipment we had sold him.


A clients distributed DVD player died. We replaced it with a Blu-ray player. Blu-ray player has a weird issue where after a given period of time it wont accept IR commands.

I sold her the Blu-ray player for exactly what it cost me to pick it up and charged for installation and programming (system builder).

I picked it up last week to send in for repair. I did the math and by the time i get the unit reinstalled it will have cost us $500 to provide the Blu-ray player and the client is unhappy.

Obviously these are rare occasions for your company and ours.. but they do happen.. and im sure everyone can see how my $500 loss is a blessing compared to the hit your company took.

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post #37 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 09:06 PM
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I think you misunderstood me. "Heck I don't want to pay my HVAC guy his rates but I do. Everythings cost. If one doesn't want to pay our rate then that is their choice. Market value as they say. " I don't mind the high price for install, it is definitely a very skilled commodity. It is the overpriced equipment. For instance, when I bought my first PJ, the local av store wanted 2k more than other authorized stores like avs. Look, I could pay 6k for a 720p SIM2 or a few grand less for a 1080p JVC that will provide equal or better picture quality and features.

"The reason most CIs don't like to work with old gear as they don't know if it works, how it works fully, how much time it takes to deal with your gear. If it is our gear I know how long things will take and will give a fair bid. " Not talking about old equipment. I don't know that I buy you don't know how it works. Whether it is a barebones Panasonic or a Titan they all still have similar function. On/off, source, etc. One just works much better. Maybe from the programming end some are more difficult? I still feel like an installer refusing to work on a theater because it doesn't have there equipment is silly. But if they have enough business and can afford to turn people away, more power to them.

Most AV dealers will carry products in all ranges. If you tell me your budget is $10k for a theater then obviously i will suggest you use a lower end projector. But if you call me and say "i want a kick ass theater" im going to hand you a proposal with $1million+ in hardware on it. IMO its best to start with your budget so that the dealer knows what you are looking to spend. You can get a great theater for $10k but you can get a much better one for $1mil+.

Sometimes we have to turn people away because we lose money if we accept their business. Some companies are set up to install $2-10k systems on a daily basis while others are set up to sell fewer 6 figure projects each year. Everyone has a business model that they have to follow. If someone called me today and said "i want to pay you to install my niles system" i would say "sorry i cant help you". Why? Because i dont carry niles. I cant afford to learn enough about niles to install it for you because i work for a crestron dealer. All R&D revolves around Crestron solutions.

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Regardless, I understand there is always a trade off of pro vs diy. I just wish the home theater stores would be willing to carry lower end products and get true theater experience to the masses, not the HTIB experience. My first theater had very basic equipment but everyone was blown away with the experience and the cost. Most people assume a home theater has to cost at least 100k.

I do very much appreciate the help and advice you have given.

They cant afford to carry lower end products. Best Buy and Amazon and even AVS are reasons why. If i carry a $2000 projector you can find it for less online or at a big box store. So why would i bother selling $2000 projectors? I have to spend the same amount of time dealing with the sale and support of a $20,000 projector.

Many think you need to spend $100k for a luxury automobile.. Hyundai has a different opinion. Most Hyundai owners are blown away with their experience.. but that doesn't mean they wont have a better experience with a more expensive car.

All of us our bound by budget whether we are in the market for a sandwich or a home theater. Make your budget known up front, qualify your dealer by asking to see examples of their work and you will end up with something special whether it costs $10k or $100k.

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post #38 of 389 Old 11-21-2010, 09:57 PM
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A&M 350Z, keep in mind that most current installers' business plans include making a profit on hardware. They must, to stay afloat.

If they install your hardware, bought at wholesale, they will need to charge more for installation and programming, to make a profit. If it's a good install company, there is a huge amount of overhead, with space rental, employee benefits, fleet maintenance, training, etc.

I've said it before here on AVS - I don't mind paying more for installation and programming, if I pay wholesale pricing for equipment. There is a tremendous annoyance to paying retail price for anything. It's the top customer service that I'm interested in paying for.

There should be 2 price tiers for installation - equipment spec'd and sold by the install company vs. existing equipment provided by the client. Granted, there will be more hours billed for integration of existing equipment (unfamiliarity with devices), but the cost still needs to be higher, to make a profit.

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post #39 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks to all the pros here for making me see your side of the argument more clearly. I think the general avs member often thinks that dealers are simply gouging us. While that may happen some, I need to keep your side of the equation in the back of my head, especially when shopping.

Neurorad, I agree with your assessment. I would happily pay more for installation if it is my equipment. Maybe it's the years of internet shopping that has made it difficult for me to pay retail for anything!

Regarding finding a better system (or better for me) than crestron, perhaps I could. It is just tempting to keep it the way it was because I will have the equipment and it controlled a fairly large amount of junk throughout the house. I can't even turn the lights on in the theater as the system is setup now!
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post #40 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 04:07 PM
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One of the things that I don't think was mentioned here is that the integration companies also prefere to use their own products because they have a substantial amount of investment in time developing custom programming modules for the equipment they sell. It's all tested and proven in advance. Those custom modules are the tools of the trade that have a subsantial value to them. When a project involves other equipment, it usually means they have to start from scratch with a little bit of a learning curve thrown in.

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post #41 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 05:19 PM
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A&M 350Z, keep in mind that most current installers' business plans include making a profit on hardware. They must, to stay afloat.

If they install your hardware, bought at wholesale, they will need to charge more for installation and programming, to make a profit. If it's a good install company, there is a huge amount of overhead, with space rental, employee benefits, fleet maintenance, training, etc.

I've said it before here on AVS - I don't mind paying more for installation and programming, if I pay wholesale pricing for equipment. There is a tremendous annoyance to paying retail price for anything. It's the top customer service that I'm interested in paying for.

There should be 2 price tiers for installation - equipment spec'd and sold by the install company vs. existing equipment provided by the client. Granted, there will be more hours billed for integration of existing equipment (unfamiliarity with devices), but the cost still needs to be higher, to make a profit.

I agree with your statement in general except for the paying at wholesale part...see below.

To the OP, CI pros have to make money on equipment in order to stay in business. Wouldn't it suck to buy a large system from me which you forced in at the lowest price possible (which I agreed to in order to try and keep my employees paychecks coming) only to have me go out of business 6mo later because there was too much of this going on? The costs to then have a new integrator come in are exorbitant - I know from experience of taking over many jobs the last 2 years. When you buy a system from us, you're paying a premium for premium service, on both equipment and labor. It costs more to run our business because in order to have the best techs and in-house programmers, we need to pay a premium for their services, the same as we ask our customers. I'm just being honest here. If you want that, great, if not, the reality is that no matter how good of a job I do, you probably won't be happy because you'd feel I gouged you. That's just my opinion.
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post #42 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 05:44 PM
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I would happily pay more for installation if it is my equipment.

I am curious how much you all would be willing to pay. For example, will you pay $100/hour until it all works?

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post #43 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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I am curious how much you all would be willing to pay. For example, will you pay $100/hour until it all works?

Not sure what the going rate is per hour. I guess if is $75/hour then yes $100 would be fine. Not sure why you ask. Frankly, I don't get the hourly rate concept. Shouldn't it just be quoted on what you think it should cost. If you get done sooner, great. If it takes you longer because you didn't get a good night sleep, not my problem.
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post #44 of 389 Old 11-22-2010, 06:56 PM
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Well, as we explained, the problem with customer bought equipment is that we may not know in advance what problems we might run into. If we just charged $100 and then it took all day, that would be $12/hour. That would get us a minimum wage worker+benefits. I am pretty certain you don't want that person working on your project .

As to why I ask, as I explained earlier, the industry shies away from doing business this way in part due to the complexity and risk. To the extent you and others like you are willing to pay for actual work done, then that lowers the risk and perhaps gets more companies to want to do business this way.

The other reason I asked was that in a way, I knew what your answer would be . If you thought there was a $100/hour clock ticking, you will likely not want to go buy the equipment discounted and then pray you don't come out upside down when the install is finished! Now you see what your system integrator faces in reverse .

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post #45 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 06:53 AM
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. . . .Maybe it's the years of internet shopping that has made it difficult for me to pay retail for anything!

What the Internet has done is given us a nation that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

My 2 cents.
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post #46 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 09:41 AM
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50% markup on hardware is part of everyone's business plan, and it shouldn't be.

CI Labor is billed at $75-300/hour, according to industry magazines, a very wide range. Installers should not be charging at the low end of that if they want to stay afloat. What I want to pay top dollar for is expertise, and attention to detail.

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post #47 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 10:41 AM
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The internet is here and thats a fact. A fact that everyone has to accept. The middle man days are almost over. Anyone playing in that space had better become a shipping/receiving company like fedex or ups or change careers. Products are going straight from the factory to the end user via efficient "holding" companies like Amazon. The markup will continue to vanish.

I bought a pair of $90 head phones a few months ago. Sort of. They were $90 at best buy. I had $20 in best buy bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I was ready to jump in the car when i decided to do one last search for reviews to make sure they were going to be good. First hit at google that i noticed was an amazon link for $44 dollars to the same headphones. I next day aired the headphones and got them for $60-65. I cant remember the exact amount now but i ended up saving about $20 and i didn't have to leave my house. How can i expect a client to pay MSRP on something when i cant even force myself to?

The manufacturers are 100% to blame for this. They are the ones with the power to stabilize their pricing. They decided to move more boxes instead. This decision is forcing CI's to redirect the risk back to the client. Want to save $300 on a TV? No problem. Hopefully it doesn't show up damaged, DOA or fail within a week.

For end DIY guys/gals its great. You get your toys for less and install them yourself. You are used to assuming the risk for products so only positive changes have occurred as far as you are concerned. But for clients who need or want to hire a pro... they are now faced with "do i pay this guy more for the same damn product? or do i get it myself and pray it doesnt fail?".

If my head phones had failed i would have spent another 20 shipping them in for repair or replacement. I wouldn't have been able to walk into Best Buy and get the problem resolved. If a client sourced TV fails.. the installer has to charge for the truck roll and labor to pick up/uninstall/ship in for repair/drop off/reinstall etc. It could easily cost $500 to get a TV repaired. I posted a story about a Blu-ray player i sold/installed. By the time its reinstalled i will be upside down on the project by $500. I would have done better to not answer the phone.

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post #48 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 02:33 PM
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. . . .This decision is forcing CI's to redirect the risk back to the client.

I do not agree with the statement above. I was involved in a study about 9 months ago in regards to the brands and models we carry and what goes into the decisions go into carrying those brands. I stated pretty simply, we only carry brands or models not available in the Big Box stores and we have dropped Manuf's. and brands that have gone into the big box stores.

I think CI's need to be more discriminating in the products they carry and the service they provide in order to be a viable business and make a profit. If you are doing the same thing the Goon Squad, aka the Geek Squad, is doing then it's just a matter of time. Why? Again Price vs. Value. A client shopping at Best Buy and hiring the the GS is more concerned about price and here you, as a CI, can not compete.
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post #49 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Well, as we explained, the problem with customer bought equipment is that we may not know in advance what problems we might run into. If we just charged $100 and then it took all day, that would be $12/hour. That would get us a minimum wage worker+benefits. I am pretty certain you don't want that person working on your project.

The other reason I asked was that in a way, I knew what your answer would be . If you thought there was a $100/hour clock ticking, you will likely not want to go buy the equipment discounted and then pray you don't come out upside down when the install is finished! Now you see what your system integrator faces in reverse .

No offense, but welcome to the real world! Just about every professional I can think of have some jobs that take a little time, others a lot of time. Lawyers, 30% contingency if it takes 3 days of trial or 30 days. Doctors, sometimes taking a gallbladder is easy, other times complicated generally same pay. Realors, 3% of the sale if you find a house in 1 day or 90 days. Engineers/Architects, the ones I know bid a fixed priced not hourly. Investment advisors, percentage of earnings not hourly. Etc, etc.

As far as competing with internet and big box, I don't mind paying more if I am getting good service. Maybe others go for cheapest at all cost. My experience though has always been a HUGE price difference, hence gouging. I remember when I was looking at a Sony VLP-HS10 way back in the day. Online was around 1400 bucks, in store 2999. I didn't and don't think the difference in price can be justified by the better customer service.

On an aside, saw B&W in best buy yesterday. Interesting. Doubt they will sell the nautilus soon though!
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post #50 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by A&M 350Z View Post

No offense, but welcome to the real world!

You and I must be living in different worlds . I live in a world where my attorney charges me hourly rate and never on a fixed bid. If I have a gallbladder that needs to be taken out, I check into a hospital and they charge me anything they want and no way do they commit to a fixed bid. I live in a world where my contractor who remodeled my house was on a "cost plus" basis and not a fixed bid.

Yes, realtors have a shared risk profile where they charge a commission on sale of a house. Investment bankers do work on percentages of the portfolio.

So there is no one model. My question, and it was a question not intended to convince you of anything, was as a customer would you be willing to pay for actual cost of doing the work for you as opposed to someone bidding a fixed price with plenty of padding for contingency, or else, walking away from the job with many integrators do. I hear you loud and clear that you want a fixed bid. That's cool....

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post #51 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 06:44 PM
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I remember when I was looking at a Sony VLP-HS10 way back in the day. Online was around 1400 bucks, in store 2999. I didn't and don't think the difference in price can be justified by the better customer service.

I agree with you that $1400 vs $2999 is a big difference and hard to swallow. When the Sony shows up and you plug it in and nothing happens what then? $1400+shipping+time waiting for replacement and repair. @$2999 the CI shows up and plugs it in and nothing happens. Now its up to him to get your replacement. The pressure and risk is on him.

I can get everything i need to make breakfast at the grocery store for $10. I can get enough to feed 4 people. At the restaurant on the corner it costs between $25-50 to feed 4 people with the exact same food. Are the gouging me? Or is it ok because the bill is under $100?

I am not trying to tell you that you are wrong for shopping on the internet. I do it. I also shop at walmart even though they are doing their best to help destroy our economy. What i am saying is that its not fair for you to suggest that someone is trying to gouge you when they show you a MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail pricing) for an item. The guy on the internet offering it to you @$1400 is able to do that because he doesn't have a store front. I dont see a problem with him running his business that way. I dont have a problem with people shopping online so long as they live in reality and understand why it costs less online.

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post #52 of 389 Old 11-23-2010, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by GoGo Delicious View Post

I do not agree with the statement above. I was involved in a study about 9 months ago in regards to the brands and models we carry and what goes into the decisions go into carrying those brands. I stated pretty simply, we only carry brands or models not available in the Big Box stores and we have dropped Manuf's. and brands that have gone into the big box stores.

I think CI's need to be more discriminating in the products they carry and the service they provide in order to be a viable business and make a profit. If you are doing the same thing the Goon Squad, aka the Geek Squad, is doing then it's just a matter of time. Why? Again Price vs. Value. A client shopping at Best Buy and hiring the the GS is more concerned about price and here you, as a CI, can not compete.

I am not a fan of protected lines in general. I know that monster cable is 90% hype and i laugh when someone asks me which HDMI cable is the best. My answer is vanco because i cant get a 30 footer that works reliably for under $40.

I am not saying that protected products are all smoke and mirrors hype. I use many products that can only be picked up at distribution or only available direct. But my reasons for using them is not because they are protected. I use them because i have found them to work properly.

I am not suggesting that we engineer our systems around whats available at Amazon. What im saying is that its silly to suggest that your client spend More than $500 on a blu-ray player. Its silly to suggest that your client pay for monster cable HDMI cables for their directv receiver... because one comes in the box! Its silly to try and sell a plasma TV that costs more than $4000 when most of the $2000 models look great.

Having said that.. i admit i am not a business owner. I am an employee. But i am also consumer. I wont pay $99 for headphones when i can get the same ones for $45. I understand the risks and i understand that the online guy has no over head and might not be there tomorrow.

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post #53 of 389 Old 11-24-2010, 03:22 AM
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As long as the cheaper products are automation friendly

The LG flatscreen I bought for my own use looks great and was at a decent price. It was not until I got it home and hung on the wall that I discovered that it required multiple button presses on the factory IR remote just to select the required input. Thank god for the RS232 port on the rear which allowed me direct input control. Bailed on that one but it could have gone the other way.

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post #54 of 389 Old 11-24-2010, 08:00 AM
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...I think the real question that comes up right now is "Why are you looking to install a Crestron system?" I recognize you have some hardware from your home purchase that you are hoping to use, but IMO you will end up spending far more money utilizing that hardware and having a Crestron system than just writing it off or selling it on Ebay and going with something else. Don't get me wrong, I think Crestron offers a lot (which is why I have a system) but whenever customers start asking the questions that you are asking, it usually means that a Crestron system isn't right for them.

Crestron systems are great for somebody who wants to hire a professional, give them a budget and a list of wants and expects a finished product. Not for somebody who likes the idea of Crestron but wants to purchase their own equipment and is looking for the Crestron dealer to "just" program the whole thing. There are many other systems out there and people who will help you automate them which will fully allow you to buy exactly the hardware you want and seek out the best prices for that equipment. Crestron just isn't one of them.

Perfect...I agree theese holy words!! I can bring my experience, living in a country where home automation is not so known and used...Crestron is a brand born in Italy 10 years ago...It's for a hi end market and folks with a lot of money...I started with Crestron from one year and people don't know what they could get as hardware on Ebay...This is something that makes no sense to me...My list price for a panel is 5.000?my client can get it for $1.500 brand new with a best buy...How could i tell him..."this is a professional products so you better avoid to buy on ebay"...Protected products not always mean the best, sure but Crestron systems needs experience, high knowledge in integration, and everything that takes it to the highest point of integrated system...We have only 6 certificated CAIP in Italy and more or less 10 authorised dealers called "Crestron home partner"...they program and garantee only what they sell. Every Crestroin programmer or installer should refuse to program Hardware sold on ebay.Are you a owner?You bought Crestron Hardware on ebay?OK! Contact Crestron Italy and they'll give you an authorised programmer or dealer but they guarantee nothing and you have to pay exactly what he'll ask to you, but this is the range:$ 150/h...If you don't like...well sorry...this is the best that we can do for you, or visit Crestron.com...I'm sure that next time, he will think twice before buiyn something not from an authorised dealer...As shown by Mr. Petemcn, if you want a system half configurable in a different way,with a low cost and no need to have a programmer, but every thing by yourself, Crestron is not for you....We have very easy systems such as My home-Bticino from Legrand Group...Good price, very very easy to install and there isn't any software but hardware configuration by putting configurators into them...All electrician use My home Bticino.Owner can choose where to buy and how to install but if they decide to have something more...Integration, programmer and money is the only way
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post #55 of 389 Old 11-24-2010, 12:51 PM
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My guess, 350Z, is you have made purchases in the past, or have been made offers in the past, that you found out to be just bad choices, thus you are carefully weighing your options. I agree 100%. So how do you know the right move in your current situation?

99% of the AV businesses out there do relatively small projects. I don't know what the average is in your area, but in our area the top integration companies routinely install systems north of 100k, while the remainder do jobs that never exceed 20 or 30k. The 99% never rise above the "glass ceiling" because they either don't have the business skills to manage a larger company, or technical skills to bring a larger job to completion, or simply don't have the man power to get everything done.

Now, setting aside the fact that every industry has bad apples, those 99% do very good, conscientious, ethical work. But what makes the 1% rare and rather pricey is the amount of training and investment necessary to successfully complete a job such as yours. That separates the wheat from the chaff.

A company that can successfully field a control system with Crestron will need people who are experts with projectors and TVs, surround systems, HVAC, music sources, Ethernet networking (including routers and switches), etc. On top of that, they must have skilled, talented programmers who not only can write software that works, but that you and your family can actually use.

I know the expenses of building such a team first hand. We have 2 degreed electrical engineers on staff, 2 fantastic field technicians with years of experience, and great supporting team.

So, find a reputable company (within two hours of you if possible) with several years in business and can show you some of their recent, successful Crestron projects. Have them take you to a couple of their client's homes to see the work for yourself (the good companies are so rare that their clients are more than pleased to let you come by for a visit). While there, try using the gear for yourself. With hardly any instruction, can you make the system play music for you, or change the thermostat in a selected room? Does the system feel stable? Is their wiring neat? Because your experience will be very similar in your own home.

Finally, great companies in the upper 1% aren't hoping you will be their "first big job". They want you to enjoy their work, and they will charge you a fair price because they know buyer's remorse doesn't produce repeat business.

I've put together a few pointers here. A good company will cost a bit more, no doubt. But I guarantee you will be satisfied and will enjoy using that good Crestron gear.

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post #56 of 389 Old 11-24-2010, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by 39CentStamp View Post

I agree with you that $1400 vs $2999 is a big difference and hard to swallow. When the Sony shows up and you plug it in and nothing happens what then? $1400+shipping+time waiting for replacement and repair. @$2999 the CI shows up and plugs it in and nothing happens. Now its up to him to get your replacement. The pressure and risk is on him.

I've seen you make this point a few times and while I typically agree with your comments I always am surprised when you mention this general idea. When people do buy from the internet or a big box store, it isn't that they aren't getting a warranty for the product, or at least if they aren't than they aren't comparing apples to apples. It also is very unlikely that if you buy a new TV from a reputable place, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazonm it will arrive in a non-functional condition.

If you happen to be the unlikely person that gets a malfunctioning or damaged piece of hardware it is probable, again depending on where you bought it from, that they will pick it up from you and deliver a replacement. Yes it will be frustrating to have to wait for the situation to get resolved, but that will hold true even if you buy it from a CI. Sure they may test it in the shop first and bring you a functioning one, but all that means is if they received a malfunctioning TV they will likely delay the start date for your project so you still will be without the TV for the same amount of time, you just won't realize it was b/c of a broken TV.

We both agree that this example is extreme, $1400 vs. $2999, but even a smaller difference would hold true. It is a scare tactic to say "But imagine the TV arrives and you plug it in and it doesn't work, that is your headache now". You fail to say that the likelihood of that happening is probably less than 5% and even if it does happen it will just mean a phone call to the place of purchase and will be rectified, not a total loss of the purchase price of the TV.

Don't misunderstand my words, I read a lot of your posts and typically agree with what you say but this point that you often make, as do others in the industry, always makes me shake my head. As I stated earlier though, if a customer is looking at this price difference and considering handling the ordering themselves, Crestron is not for them. This is coming from a Crestron customer who understands both the power and the cost of Crestron.

Unfortunately there aren't many good choices for a DIY who is looking for the level of automation that the top brands offer. I think Harmony needs to buy a competitor, URC comes to mind first, and start offering something that starts to bridge the gap between DIY and Professional.
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I've seen you make this point a few times and while I typically agree with your comments I always am surprised when you mention this general idea. When people do buy from the internet or a big box store, it isn't that they aren't getting a warranty for the product, or at least if they aren't than they aren't comparing apples to apples. It also is very unlikely that if you buy a new TV from a reputable place, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Amazonm it will arrive in a non-functional condition.

When you purchase between 1-3 TV's a year it is easy to assume that it will arrive in a functional condition. But as an example.. I had a client order 2 sony LCD's from best buy. 1 failed within a week. Another client who ordered 10 pioneers and 1 failed within a year. Another client who ordered 3 runco tv's and 1 failed within a year. I had a client who purchased a sim2 c3x and the first 2 were defective. It happens quite frequently. You should have been around for Phast.

If you purchased from Best Buy then you can load it into the car and drive it over. If you purchased from amazon you now have to pack it completely up and ship it in for service and wait.

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If you happen to be the unlikely person that gets a malfunctioning or damaged piece of hardware it is probable, again depending on where you bought it from, that they will pick it up from you and deliver a replacement. Yes it will be frustrating to have to wait for the situation to get resolved, but that will hold true even if you buy it from a CI. Sure they may test it in the shop first and bring you a functioning one, but all that means is if they received a malfunctioning TV they will likely delay the start date for your project so you still will be without the TV for the same amount of time, you just won't realize it was b/c of a broken TV.

The difference with the CI is that the burden is on them. Same with Best Buy. If the TV fails right away you have a person, not an address and phone number to deal with. You have a loaner TV installed until yours is repaired or replaced.

I bought most of the CE products in my house from best buy. I get the extended warranty on things over $1000. I can usually get TV's @ or under what distribution sells them to me for and i know i can get the item replaced right away if it fails. I dont usually hire a CI and even though i am one i prefer to pick my products up some place else because i dont want to have to stand in line at the distributors monday morning getting my Blu-ray player replaced.

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We both agree that this example is extreme, $1400 vs. $2999, but even a smaller difference would hold true. It is a scare tactic to say "But imagine the TV arrives and you plug it in and it doesn't work, that is your headache now". You fail to say that the likelihood of that happening is probably less than 5% and even if it does happen it will just mean a phone call to the place of purchase and will be rectified, not a total loss of the purchase price of the TV.

I am not trying to create a boogie man scare tactic. I am simply stating that if you contact a CI its similar to order breakfast at a restaurant. All you have to do is pay the bill and everything is done for you. I am not saying 1 way is better than the other. Simply that just because amazon has a TV for less money.. it doesnt mean that a CI is gouging anyone.

TV's show up and fail out of the box all the time. Most distributors make you open then and check the glass to see if they are broken. We have to sign documents that they were inspected. Other CE products fail frequently also. Its difficult to imagine when you are purchasing say 3 Blu-ray players a year vs 300.

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Don't misunderstand my words, I read a lot of your posts and typically agree with what you say but this point that you often make, as do others in the industry, always makes me shake my head. As I stated earlier though, if a customer is looking at this price difference and considering handling the ordering themselves, Crestron is not for them. This is coming from a Crestron customer who understands both the power and the cost of Crestron.

Its my opinion that Crestron is for everyone. I think i can bid (correctly) any distributed av or home automation system with Crestron and be @ or close to any similarly featured product. If all you want is to distribute your ipod to every room then obviously you dont need Crestron. But once you step outside of the boxed lower end products you have to use the right product. Any imagined savings on a mix of 3rd party products to achieve the same goal will end up costing you the same amount once you figure in the labor for planning and implementing the mix of products. What typically happen though.. is the dealers who recommend the Frankenstein projects usually dont know how to big a job properly and they lose money by not charging for their time. So the client ends up with a 1 off system that no one will touch for less than T&M.

The reason this point is often made by me is because i get to experience the look on customers faces a few times a year when their internet sourced hardware fails. It sucks to tell the client to get his TV serviced and then bill him to uninstall and reinstall it. I am not set up for or interested in trying to get products that i don't carry, repaired. I worked for a Phast dealer. There was so much failure we rarely made a dime and often lost money on the product. This was over 5 years ago. I have been a BIG fan of letting the client source hardware themselves so i don't have to be responsible for it. Client saves money and i dont lose money when it fails.

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Unfortunately there aren't many good choices for a DIY who is looking for the level of automation that the top brands offer. I think Harmony needs to buy a competitor, URC comes to mind first, and start offering something that starts to bridge the gap between DIY and Professional.

Harmony is something i only poked fun at until this year. I had never used it or seen it in action. A new client had a crestron system installed in 2 rooms. At some point he lost touch with his dealer and decided to have someone else come in and upgrade his directv receivers... reprogram his touchpanels. New company sells him harmony and puts the crestron gear in a box. I get there and pick the remote up and it looks very slick, nice touchscreen. Then i spend 5 minutes trying to navigate it. I admit i dont know what the programming abilities of the harmony are but this thing was a nightmare. Maybe the dealer who configured it was to blame.. it was awful. I reprogrammed the crestron products with system builder. Small 1 room systems. The bill was less to reprogram and reinstall the crestron hardware than it was to put in the harmony gear.

There is a product thats bridging the gap. Its called the iPad. This is the answer to taking a product like charmed quark and getting a fully featured system for less. Initially anyway. Its my opinion that things cost what they cost. What you save on up front costs you will spend in labor making it work. Finding products that actually do what the manuals say they will do can be quite frustrating. This is why crestron has a sku for everything you can think of. As a DIY the hit on labor costs you nothing extra so its an acceptable trade off. As a dealer, interested in charmed quark or similar pc based products.. you take the hit once and after the learning curve you will be able to take advantage of it.

I am not saying "ooh you better buy from a CI or you will be sorry" i am saying "if you buy from a CI you dont have to deal with product failure". The primary reason i respond in threads like this is because of the frequent assumptions that the price posted at amazon is what things should cost everywhere. We all know that is ridiculous.. or we should anyway. It bugs me that people form these opinions with seemingly no understanding of the market place.

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post #58 of 389 Old 11-24-2010, 08:24 PM
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Don't misunderstand my words, I read a lot of your posts and typically agree with what you say but this point that you often make, as do others in the industry, always makes me shake my head. As I stated earlier though, if a customer is looking at this price difference and considering handling the ordering themselves, Crestron is not for them. This is coming from a Crestron customer who understands both the power and the cost of Crestron.
.

After reading this again i want to be very clear here. I dont think and didnt suggest that the OP should hire a crestron dealer unless he understands that hes basically going to be paying T&M to reinstall the existing hardware & preprogram the system. Initially i understood that he had everything in the existing system but in the later posts you realize that he has a few pieces of the puzzle and already plans to swap out most of the CE products.

I say/ask this every day.. What is the budget? Set a budget, find a product that will give you all or most of what you want within that budget.

My posts here addressed 2 different topics. Originally i was speaking to the OP about crestron but later i was commenting on why amazons low prices dont equal "CI is gouging me". I didnt mean for it to seem as if the 2 were related.

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post #59 of 389 Old 11-25-2010, 10:31 AM
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Just for $hits and giggles, what would be the answer to this question?
I have a Crestron system which is working fine. My projector died and is out of warrantee. My dealer is no where to be found and I don't have a copy of my program. I'd like to get a new projector and add a blue ray player to my system.

Even if you sell him a new projector and BD player, the other 90 percent of the system you didn't provide. Would you take it on or refer him to a CAIP and pick up his equipment elsewhere?

Point is, not everyone is trying to beat you out of a buck. They're in a bind and just need service.

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post #60 of 389 Old 11-25-2010, 10:59 AM
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Not sure what the going rate is per hour. I guess if is $75/hour then yes $100 would be fine. Not sure why you ask. Frankly, I don't get the hourly rate concept. Shouldn't it just be quoted on what you think it should cost. If you get done sooner, great. If it takes you longer because you didn't get a good night sleep, not my problem.

A fixed quote on product I do not supply is business suicide IMHO... All electronics have idiosyncrasies that we need to figure out. Product I supply is product I have done my research on and know the ins and outs of the product.
I have no issues installing client supplied equipment, and I can give you a guesstimate of what kind of time frame we are looking at to complete the project.

But if this particular product does not play nice with baluns or has some funky start up sequence that needs to be figured out. I feel comfortable in the fact that I am not going to pay for this education so you can save some money on the product. I will still do everything in my power to give you efficient and fair service. But I will not pay for it with my or my employees time or energy.
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