OK, It now Official, My Own Company.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Mark Sherman, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Hello All,



    Well as of Today I am the proud owner of my own HT company. ( dont worry I will not mention the name here on the forum) Im starting off small at first doing calibrations and system set setups. After a few months I going to be getting my suppliers up and running, Then Full Design and install of the systems. Which is about a year away from now.




    Later
     
  2. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

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  3. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Nope Not in west Michagan But I'll let you know when Im Hiring.



    Thanks
     
  4. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    Congratulations and good luck!

    And here's your first unsolicited advice - chnage your HTF location from "Beyond the sun" to something real. Don't pass up any opportunity to pick up business.
     
  5. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Im doing that right now.


    thanks for the advice
     
  6. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Just had my first client on tuesday with three sets at one house. Its a start
     
  7. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Hey Guys, Well I need some help. In 3 months I have had one client. Granted I have a full time Job as a glazier building store fronts my true passion is HT. I have tried with my old buddies from a store I used to work to get me some Business doing calibrations but I have seen nothing. I have a buddy of mine who works for a cable company trying to get me work but I have seen nothing from that as well. I dont have a huge budget for advertising and was wondering if anybody had any ideas fro drumming up some business.




    OBTW. My first client was a royal PITA. I was over his house for 3 hours tweaking 3 of his sets. He was one of theses people who had to look over my shoulder and ask a million friggen question about what I was doing. I had his main set looking like a million bucks on his HDDVD input. Pirates dead mans chest looked unbelievable. He was stunned at how good it looked. then I went to his HD input. I asked him what channel he watched to most as a litmus test. again he was blown away. a month later I called him for a follow up and wanted to know how he was liking it.


    He was not pleased. He said that the HDDVD looked great but the HD on other channels looked off. I tried to explain to him that was no fault of mine and that every channel is broadcast different. He didnt buy It. I told him that I would come out and fix the problem. He basically hung up on me.


    I hope he didnt start bad mouthing me since I have done a couple of my friends sets and they were blown away by how much better there sets look after I was done.
     
  8. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    If I have a beef with a merchant and the merchant offers to come back to fix the problem, I take them up on that. Maybe this guy is pissed off at himself for paying someone to come to his house and "fiddle with the dials". If customer hangs up on a merchant who is trying to make it right, the customer is an a#$hole. BTW, I used "fiddle with the dials" to illustrate what may be the customer's attitude, not mine.

    I've never been self-employed, but you are going through the toughest part of any fledgling business, establishing a reputation. Also, considering the enconomy, many are cutting back on discretionary spending.
     
  9. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    I Just wasnt fiddling with the dials. I have test equipment that I put on the screen which feeds to my lap top. it took me about over an hour to have this thing looking stunning. this guys system was a lesson on what not to do. I also offered to set it up and calibrate it the right way, he refused.


    any ideas on how to drum up some more business. there is money out there i just have to find it. or they find me
     
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Don’t do things for your buddies for free.

    A Quid pro quo is fine, but make sure that you get equal (or nearly equal) value in return.

    You may not have much of a budget for advertising, but use the money you have to promote your services. If you don’t get the word out, you won’t get clients. I’m not sure of your buddy’s circle of friends but you need to target those who want your services—and can pay[/i]. In other words, it won’t do much good to spread the word to poor college students (or to advertise in their student publications), but it might help to advertise in the ‘Weekly Shopper Guides” in upscale residential neighborhoods. Or put flyers under windshield wipers of cars parked in affluent shopping malls (at least until the security guards catch you).

    If you really believe in this and don’t have the funds for promotion, put together a business plan and go to a local bank or credit union and get a small business loan.

    Assess your competition and provide services where they are not, or provide better ones, or do what they do less expensively. But the key here is that your potential clients have to know of your existence and why you should be preferred. However you do this, you have to advertise.
     
  11. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    at first I talked to Guys I used to work with at ( insert name of HT store). I told them for every referal I get from customers I will give them money, 10% of what I charge the customer. I went to atleast 4 stores where I know salesmen and gave them the whole story. I have yet to have any of this turn into any business, WTF. Now another good friend of mine works for a cable company setting up new customers with Hidef. I also told him what I can do for customers and still nothing. I was thinking about putting up some flyers out in the Supermarket Lobbies.



    thanks guys
     
  12. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Oops!

    I quite forgot an almost free source of advertising.

    Get on your computer and set up a website for your company. This costs very little and you want to pop up if anyone googles something like [home theater installation Boston].
     
  13. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I'm not an independent business owner so I'm talking only from theory. But here's some thoughts:

    * Identify your target market and advertise appropriately to them. If it's the wealthy, I think that something like flyers under car wipers in parking lots will only piss them off, make you look very bad. But finding someone in your target market, doing his job for a great discount (even free) and then having an open house to demonstrate and tout your business is appropriate.

    * Host an information session. This is common for real estate services. Give an informative talk on how to install and calibrate one's HT. Conclude with your sales pitch, business cards, etc.

    * Be aware that you're trying to sell a luxury service in a down market. Rich people are looking to unload their vacation / weekend lake houses and these are your potential customers. It may just be a slower startup than ten years ago when everyone was fat and happy.

    * Keep pushing. Revisit your buddies at HT stores and ask them if they are comfortable promoting your service, if they do, and what the response may be. Have they seen your work, and have enough confidence to risk their own reputation touting yours? See my idea on an open house. Or are they prohibited by their business policy to promote another business? Most HT shops offer install services; why would they promote yours? Continue to follow up and work through the issues that don't work.

    * Follow up with your buddies: aside from your 10% cut, is there a way that your business makes their business better? If promoting your business solves some business need of theirs, it's an easy sell.

    * You can do installs. Can you train installers? Can you build business by training installers at HT shops and building business in that manner?

    * Your current posting identify has a picture of a black car and a vulgar signature quote. Why aren't both a reference to your business and a link to your business website?

    * Are you posting helpful and informative comments on HT cal & install here and at AVS? With your professional signature and avatar in every post? (Look at the SVS guys and Gregg Lion's calibration biz (?))

    * Do you have your own high-end, exquisitely calibrated system to show off? If you don't use your own services, why would anyone else? (back to the need to have some sort of demo of your services.)


    Finally, if you're at a loss for business cards and / or website, give me a PM and I'll get you in contact with my wife, who can does that professionally at fair rates. (See how that works: I just worked in a push for an independent business person on this forum while trying help another poster [​IMG])
     
  14. BrettV

    BrettV Stunt Coordinator

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    That was a great post.

    Also, did you calibrate any of the tvs in your friends HT stores? I'd suggest doing 1 or 2 in each. That's one (free) way you can have some type of viable demo available to potentially interested parties w/o any additional investment of equipment. Perhaps, after using Dave's wife's services of biz card making, you can then leave a stack next to the calibrated monitors in the stores.

    Just a few thoughts.
     
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Excellent advice Dave—especially as to Mark’s sig—and you are no doubt correct as to flyers on cars.
     
  16. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast
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    Another nickel's worth of free advice: If you are not already, get ISF certified. Also, advertise in the Yellow Pages and some local radio stations will grant quick commercial interviews in the mornings for little or nothing. If there's a trade expo or electronics expo near, show up and press the flesh. If you have the revenue for it, rent billboard space. It takes money to make money.
     
  17. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    How does one become ISF certified? I've been thinking about becoming certified myself as a side business and was wondering what the process was.
     
  18. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    As for your pals at the HT store - if the store does not offer initial setup you should offer the service through them. Make it a counter item the store can ring up and charge for. Make sure the retailer as well as the salesman makes enough money to RECOMMEND it to everyone. (as well as understand their benefits of having it installed correctly; fewer stupid-customer problems)

    If they DO offer setup you might offer to be a sub-contractor they can use then upsell on the job.

    You can upsell not only calibration but also conveniences like Harmony remotes, higher quality cables, etc.

    If you are sure you want to try flyers, you need to remember; you are selling a VISUAL product. Xerox'd sheets of pink paper won't cut it. You need slick glossy pieces with lots of 'white space'. You should include a before and after photo, maybe even more than one example. A few testamonials. etc. Trifolds are always classy.

    You could deliver these flyers in wealthy neighborhoods. Use something like; "We pick up where the cable guy left off"... Mention some of the upgrades (I think the Harmony remote could help here - and if you are a qualified vendor they may even co-op some of your costs)

    You also could go to a few golf course clubhouses, upscale bars, etc. and offer to tweak their TVs for half price as long as you get to leave your brochures...

    Look for speaking engagements where you can demonstrate what you do. For example; a local PC users group. WIth the convergence of PC and media that is a logical combination. Maybe try contacting a few of the more successful professions in your area; I host special occasions for my clients with guest speakers from a variety of topics. I could imagine a workshop where you demonstrate the fun of a surround sound FPTV and you would discuss importance of calibration and demonstrate the differences...

    Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. I could imagine lots of others who would be interested in letting you show off.

    Last of all - look for trade shows - particularly new home shows. Get a booth and show off your skill.

    Most of all - have a gloriously attractive color glossy brochure.
     
  19. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Guys these are all awesome Ideas. thanks you all very much. I just get some time to do this and some money.
     
  20. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Dealing with the public is not easy. People think being a salesman is easy. LOL!

    Someone once told me, "If it goes well, make sure to give the customer credit for doing it - even if they didn't. If it goes wrong, make sure the customer knows it is your fault - even if it isn't."

    Many many people in this world suffer from selective hearing. When someone complains the best answer I've heard is to listen attentively, pause, then acknowledge with something like; "I understand you when you say that you are disappointed in how the picture looks on your other channels. I want to make it absolutely right for you." It is important that you remember this next step: "Is there anything else?" Always come back to that until they run out if things. Each time respond similar as before so they know that you hear and understand their concern. Do this until they have shared all of their issues.
    Then and only then offer your solution. Leave the explaining for when you are there so you can demonstrate it for them. Remember: it is a VISUAL medium you are selling. They MUST see it, the before and after. They must see why it is different for one device and not the other... Explanations are too similar to excuses. Action sells, even when it is theatrics only.

    When I get the occasional irrational customer who won't accept my solution I often just throw them the ball with something like "Well, you know making you happy is my top concern. What would you like for me to do to make you happy?". Sometimes they just take a breath and say "You're right. Go ahead and do it". Other times I get a surprising answer like "Explain this to my wife so she'll leave me alone"...

    BTW - a refund is NEVER the solution unless you acknowledge you have really mucked it up. When you give a refund you still have not made a happy customer. Better to give free perks than a refund - even if it costs you more.
     

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