AV Design for Beginners: What to Look for When Hiring an AV Company & What to Expect During Your AVL Design Project

AV Design for Beginners: What to Look for When Hiring an AV Company & What to Expect During Your AVL Design Project

Are you building a new space for your business or organization? Are you renovating an already existing space, and remodeling it to fit your current needs?

Twenty, fifteen or even ten years ago, it might have been enough to build four walls and a roof, add in lighting, plumbing and eye-catching furnishings and decorations. Today that’s no longer enough. There’s one more important feature you’d be sorely remiss not to include, and that’s the integration of technology into your organization’s space.

In today’s world, the importance of including technology in your space cannot be overstated. Whether your organization is a university, a K-12 school, a church, a museum, a community center, a retail store, a performance venue — or any number of other possibilities — the need for technology is still of critical importance. The inclusion of audiovisual (AV) or audio, visual and lighting (AVL) technology in your space is becoming a necessity.

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What Is Audiovisual Design & Integration?

AVL delivers an immersive and engaging experience — you could say it even sets the tone. A go-to example would be visiting your local movie theater to watch an IMAX film. But of course, audiovisual integration can be used for so much more.

What about the visuals and sound system needed to set up a church’s worship center, corporate AV design or the informative videos and virtual tours at museums and historical sites? What about the projectors and displays in classroom settings?

The list goes on, and once when you begin to look for AVL, you see it everywhere. Of course, the magic of AVL is seeing how seamless and natural it can be, delivering that immersive experience without you even noticing. Instead, it enhances your experience, whether that’s examining fossils at a museum, praying at your house of worship or visiting a concert hall.

The possibilities for AV technology are almost endless. While your organization may not need all the possible applications of this technology, it’s sure to benefit from some of them.

Why Is AV Integration So Important?

In 2013, 71% of Americans were regularly using the internet, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This number has done nothing but grow in recent years. Not only that, but 68% of Americans today own a smartphone, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a huge number of people that are walking around with 24/7 access to multimedia.

What does this mean for you and your organization? People are not only used to interacting with informative, engaging media presentations. They’ve now come to expect it.

If your organization is not taking steps to integrate AV technology, you could be running the risk of losing relevance to a modern audience. 

No matter what your business or organization is, you’ve put hard work and dedication into it. You’re proud of what you’ve created, and you deserve to have other people appreciate and benefit from the work you’ve put into it.

However, with every other organization using AV technology to create dramatic presentations and user-friendly environments, you and your organization can’t afford to be left behind.

Let your organization get the attention it deserves by integrating these essential technologies.

Why Go Professional?

All right, all right, so you’re convinced that taking the time to integrate some AV technology into your space is worth it. But at this point, you might be thinking this is an undertaking you could do yourself with zero hassle. After all, anyone can buy a monitor and some speakers at your local superstore, right?

Well, no. If you were building a new building, you wouldn’t attempt to do the wiring yourself unless you were an electrician. You wouldn’t try to lay all the piping unless you were a plumber. Is your AV integration any less important?

On the surface, it might seem faster and easier to do everything yourself, but hiring an experienced team of professionals to manage your AV integration will save you time, money and headaches in the long run. They will get things right the first time, avoiding the possibility of mistakes and re-dos down the line.

Why not take the time to invest in a professional who will get the job done correctly and efficiently, with your needs and interests in mind? Your business is worth it.

How to Choose an AVL Company

You’ve decided that going professional is the right decision, but now what? You do a Google search for audiovisual contractors in your area, and the results for audiovisual installation companies are overwhelming. How do you begin to narrow them down to find a design-build AV company that’s truly right for you and your needs?

Here are a few guidelines and things to look for to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible:

Determine What Your Needs Are Going to Be

What form is your AV integration going to take? What best suits the needs of your organization? Is this something that is going to be long-term, or are you just hiring an AV company for a single event? Once you know what services you’re looking for, you’ll be able to improve your searches for a design-build AV company with the expertise in that area

Distinguish Between Your Wants and Your Needs

Imagine you’re looking to rent a new apartment. You absolutely need an apartment with two bedrooms. You’d like to have your laundry on the second floor, but it wouldn’t be an absolute deal-breaker if the condo you loved in every other way didn’t have that one feature.

In the same way, before you begin hunting for a company, it’s essential to have a list of things you must have and things you only want. With the right company, you might just be able to have both.

Look for Companies to Fit Those Needs

It’s a good idea to look for a company that has expertise across the board. You never know when plans might change, and you might need an additional service from your design-build AV company. You want to hire audiovisual contractors prepared for anything. However, if you have any specific needs, it might be worth looking at companies that are known for that area — or at least have experience with it.

Know Your Price Range

This step is standard in the process of hiring any company or consultant. Look at the different AV companies available, and get a feel for what the average prices are. Decide which services it’s worth paying a little extra for and which ones aren’t worth it to you. You know your organization best, and you know what it needs.

Look for Companies Who Are Willing to Provide Customized Solutions

Your needs are unique. It’s essential to hire a company that is willing to sit down with you and come up with a one-of-a-kind audiovisual solution for you and your organization. You don’t want to work with a company that only provides one-size-fits-all plans and refuses to take all the factors of your situation into account.

Look for Companies That Are Willing to Teach You

It’s important to look for a company that isn’t just there to install their equipment, collect their pay and then vanish forever. The ideal AV company will be happy to explain the technology to you and teach you how to operate it instead of leaving you struggling with confusing instruction manuals. The right AV company should be willing to take the time to work with you.

Make Sure You’re on the Same Page Before You Hire

Before you sign any papers, it’s important to make sure you and your chosen audiovisual company understand one another. Sit down and discuss the fine details with them. Do they know what services you want? Do you understand any technical jargon they may be throwing around? This way, both parties will be satisfied with the result of your relationship.

Different Company Processes 

An important note to make is that there are different ways to hire an AV company. The two most common ones are known as Design/Bid and Design/Build:

  • Design/Bid

Under this system, the AV company acts as a consultant. They oversee planning and designing the AV system for you. After that, you can choose to hire them again to install the equipment and put the plan into motion. Or you could pick a different AV company to build the system. There is no obligation to use the original company.

  • Design/Build

Under this system, the design-build AV company still designs and plans the AV system, but they also install all the equipment and set the system in motion for you. In other words, they complete every step of the process without you having to re-hire them midway through the project.

Many people favor the design/build approach because it cuts out the middle step of deciding whether to re-hire the original company or go with a different company for the second half of the project. It keeps things consistent and straightforward by allowing for a one-stop shopping approach.

Plus, it lets you work with a team that’s already delivered a design that captures your vision. As a result, you can be confident that when it comes to constructing your AV design, it’ll match your concept and design to a tee — creating that immersive experience you and your company are expecting.

Whether you’re leaning toward Design/Bid or Design/Build, it’s important to consider both options when choosing an AV consultant. Carefully consider both options before deciding which one is best for you.

Collaborating With Your AudioVisual Contractor

You’ve hired your AV company. Now it’s time to decide who’s involved in the design and installation process.

A smart approach to choosing who collaborates with your audiovisual contractor is by casting the following roles:

  • The Techie: Every organization has one — that one person who has a knack for anything technical. Depending on your business, such as a performing arts center, they may already be involved in managing your AVL. You want them talking to your AVL company. Why? They’ll understand all the technical points, plus they can bring up any specific needs or limits your organization has when it comes to AV.
  • The Logical One: No matter what type of project you’re undertaking, you want someone logical on your side. With the help of The Techie, they’ll stay up-to-speed on any technical points, while using their analytical skills to ask essential questions that’ll help your company finalize a design with your contractor, as well as make sure you’re on track to meet your deadline for project completion.
  • The Shepherd: One of the most critical roles is that of The Shepherd, who takes on a part that’s like a project manager. Their goal is simple — manage all the on-going processes, from meetings with your audiovisual company to updates with your organization’s decisionmakers, to ensure everything runs as smooth as a whistle.

Depending on your project, you’re welcomed to expand your line-up. During collaborations, you may even decide to decrease your team, especially if you’re confident in your AV contractor’s designs and decisions. If you’re also collaborating with architects, engineers and master planners who are working on designing your space too, make sure you give them the 411 on your progressing AV design.

Even if some of these people do not seem relevant at first, it’s unwise to leave them out of the planning and integration process. What if an architect installs a glass wall that looks great, but turns out to be terrible for sound absorption? If the architect and the AV consultant had communicated, this mistake might have been avoided.

The Design Process

It’s vital that you and the AV company of your choice work together in designing an AV system that fits your needs. After all, they want to deliver an AV installation that meets your vision and immerses your audience, and your voice is a vital part of that goal.

That’s why your audiovisual contractors bring more than their expertise and know-how to meetings — they also bring their listening ear, ready to hear your company knowledge, ideas and expectations, as well as questions you and your team may have before diving into design drafts.

Your design-build AV company should have ways of clearly communicating their plans and designs to you. Quality 3D renderings of their vision can help express their ideas better. They should come to meetings with their ideas laid out, including multiple options for you to choose from, implementation plans and price estimates, so you know what to expect.

Finally, it’s essential that the consultant of your choice can complete the AV installations themselves or can work closely with the architect and engineers who will install them. Why? It helps to ensure everything functions correctly and undergoes the proper installation.

Generating Funding 

Do you have a great idea for how to integrate technology into your space, but you’re being held back by limited funding? Are you ready to take your business into the 21st century, but your ideas are being held in check by your budget?

If so, you’re not alone. Funding is one of the most common barriers to technological improvements in companies across the board.

A capital campaign is probably the most common way to try to generate funds for improvements like this, but it’s not the only way. There are lots of other great ideas to make a little extra income for necessary improvements, and all it takes is a little brainstorming to think of them.

One example of such creative income generating is the Harrisburg-located coffee shop, Agia Sophia. The Orthodox Church in Harrisburg, PA established this charming coffee shop and combines income generation with doing good in the community. The coffee shop is run entirely by volunteers and is a non-profit business, with its revenue going back to funding the various needs of the church.

While a lot of churches have coffee shops in their lobbies, opening one to the public was a great idea to generate extra income, as well as to engage in the community. And while opening a coffee shop might not be the right plan of action for everyone, it stands as an example of how to creatively generate some extra money to make those AV improvements you’ve been wanting.

Ready to Start Your Project?

AVL is an undeniable part of our everyday lives, especially for consumers. Whether they’re visiting places of worship, performing arts centers, museums, galleries or even universities, there is an expectation for getting lost in the experience — AVL delivers that in a natural way.

And who’s behind AVL? Your company and its partner — an exceptional and thoughtful audiovisual company. From conception to design to implementation, bringing your vision to fruition is an important process that requires the undivided attention of experienced AVL professionals.

Illuminated Integration is a team of experienced audio-video lighting consultants who work with architects, engineers and end-users at businesses and organizations nationwide to develop an AV design that will enhance your venue and give you the most return on your investment.

Contact us today via our online form, or call us at (717) 996-4596 to speak with one of our representatives for a free consultation. Your next AVL improvement project is waiting.

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Updated on 2/2/2021

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