Make appointments with the candidates you've selected. You can glean valuable information before you even meet. Are their phones answered during business hours? Do they return calls or e-mails promptly? When you have your meeting, note if the installer arrived on time. If he's too busy or scatterbrained to meet with you to get the job, things probably won't get better once he has it.
Does he have a showroom? Although many accomplished installers work out of small or home offices, an installation firm that's invested in a showroom certainly has a little more stability.
What product lines does he carry? Premier companies such as Runco, Lexicon, Meridian, ADA, and Crestron can be selective about who sells their products, which can be a good indicator of the firm's caliber.
When you meet, your first question should be, "How long have you been in business?" Custom installation is booming, attracting many "overnight experts" from the ranks of electricians and security contractors. If your project is relatively advanced, a Johnny-come-lately might not be the best candidate. Other things to ask:
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