Choosing the right Home Theater installer

October 22, 2004

blueprintI get asked this question from time to time and wanted to briefly give my thoughts on how to pick the right home theater installer, company, integrator, what have you. There are many schools of thought on this. You’ll likely get as many answers as people you ask, but the problem is those individuals are likely to throw their spin on the answer, especially if their in the business themselves. Whoops, that disqualifies me. But seriously, I don’t know you and it’s unlikely we’ll ever cross paths so here’s the straight scoop.

Ask a retailer and they’re likely to say “pick someone with a storefront” or “a brick n’ mortar store offers you peace of mind, that we’ll be around when you need service”. Ask an ISF technician and maybe you’ll get “you definitely need an integrator with ISF and HAA certified technicians”. Ask an InFocus dealer and they might say, “Does the other dealer carry Infocus?” Ok, that one was a joke, but what a dealer carries is important. You’d like to have a competent design and installation from someone who sells your second pick of equipment, rather than getting your most sought after projector installed by lackeys.

There is, however, one nearly fool proof method for making sure you’ve selected the right company to do business with. Ask to see their work. It’s so very simple but I see so few clients actually do it. Let’s face it, with today’s hectic schedule most people just don’t feel like they have the time to spend hunting down references, photos of past work, and client referrals. But honestly folks, if your potentially about to spend more on a home theater than your last car, don’t you owe it to yourself to find out if your integrator actually makes customers happy, rather than just makes empty promises?

Of course certified CEDIA installers make a difference, and sure ISF and HAA trained installers will add value to your project, but sadly, these things alone don’t really guarantee anything. Any Custom Audio Video installation business with a few thousand dollars in the bank can send their employees to training, but that doesn’t ensure your satisfaction at the end of the project.

Ask your integrator “Do you have a portfolio of your work?” Someone wanting to paint your living room likely has one of these, so why shouldn’t someone who sells and installs custom high end theaters? Ask them “Do you have any past clients that would be willing to give a recommendation?” Be wary of a business that might reply, “We don’t like to intrude on our customers, like that”. It’s been my experience that customers who are really, really satisfied with the end result of their home theater, don’t mind answering a quick phone call to tell someone about how much they love their theater, or at the very least write a quick note thanking their integrator for the great job.

I don’t say these things to give up and coming installation companies a hard time. Everyone has to get a start somewhere, but you should know ahead of time what you’re getting into. With this in mind, I’m going to stick my neck out (oh boy) and start a new section of the site called “Find a Local Home Theater Installer“. What I intend to do with this section is recommend a few integrators from each state, just as a starting point. But by all means keep in mind what I said previously. I’d like to promote great results here, not hyperbole. All I ask is that if you do business with any of the companies listed, drop me a line and tell me about your experience with them. I’ll post all the feedback, good and bad. Let’s see if we can put some folks in touch with integrators, who’ve shown they deserve your business.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater How-to