Installing With Elan
Having seen Jim Young (above right) and Wayne Tomblin (left) at work before, I'm well aware of their first-rate technical chops. So when I ask Wayne the secret to being a successful installer, I'm surprised when he says, "It's desire more than knowledge. You have to be willing to stay on the job until 2 in the morning to make sure the remote does exactly what the client wants. A lot of new installers have all the technical skills, but they don't have the dedication."
When I ask what the most important part of any installation is, Jim replies, "The interface. That's far more important than any of the gear. If the control panel or remote doesn't do what the client wants it to, and if it isn't easy to use, they're not going to use the system. When that happens, everybody loses."
That's one reason Jim and Wayne have stayed loyal to Elan Home Systems. A lot of people dealing with custom installation for the first time are surprised to find that most dealers offer only one or two control systems, but selling a number of systems just to be comprehensive is likely to lead to a compromised installation. Learning all the ins and outs of a sophisticated whole-house A/V system from a single manufacturer is tough enough; trying to master a slew of them borders on the absurd.
The control system is the true heart of your installation, and the more complicated it is, the more the installer has to rely not only on the gear itself, but also on the company's training and dealer support. "I've never seen any company train its installers as thoroughly as Elan does," says Jim. "They have a retreat every year where they teach you about the gear, show you how to improve your business, and give you a look at what's coming." And if an installer runs into trouble, the company has a hot line. "It's manned by an engineer who can replicate the problem using the same gear we've got at the job site," Wayne says.
Wayne and Jim also praise Elan for the way it thoroughly tests and evaluates products before releasing them. "A client recently gave us an IP-based control system to install," says Jim, "and it had a wireless touchpanel remote that just wasn't ready for prime time. He had so much trouble with it that he gave up and now uses a Harmony remote instead." By contrast, while customers and dealers have been clamoring for years for a wireless version of Elan's Via! Valet controller, the company refused to release one until it had worked all the bugs out. (The wireless Via!2 was introduced in March.)
An installer can have all the engineering genius of Nikola Tesla, but if he allies himself with the wrong manufacturer, he's going to waste most of that brainpower making repeated service calls to keep your enfeebled system up and running. Sticking with an installer who offers one of the handful of reputable control systems in the custom install market is always the way to go.
Audio Video Environments LLC, 490 Huntington Road, Stratford, CT 06614, email@example.com (203) 378-8629
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