Setting up an audio-visual system that’s capable of handling high-level corporate, government, educational, healthcare or entertainment needs requires a lot more than a trip to your local big box store for a bunch of electronics. As AV technology grows more sophisticated your best bet is always going to be to choose a dedicated AV consulting company who will help you design and implement your new system.

How do you know you’re working with the right company? It’s hard to tell for sure until you choose one, but here are a few markers to look for.

Custom Solutions

A great AV solution is engineered, carefully crafted and constructed to meet the needs of the client. All installations are more complex than they might seem to be when you’re looking at similar setups which are already complete.

Companies which don’t offer custom solutions will cause you to waste time and money. They won’t help you plan for expansions. They might not even create a clean installation, as there is a measure of construction involved in any project.

Advance Estimates

Some companies let you find out what you owe the hard way, hitting you with surprises and hidden fees when the work is done. The best companies know their business. They factor the costs of design, implementation, equipment, and training into their estimates, and they get the estimates to their clients before they commit to anything.

But be wary. If you are reviewing multiple bids it is extremely important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Some companies don’t include everything in their estimates, for example.

Project Management Skills

Installing most AV systems requires a great deal of coordination and planning. The AV team must work with building management, the manufacturer, and other parties to get the project implemented. In addition, equipment must be ordered. Technicians and programmers must be deployed. Some projects even require the AV company to take care of multiple locations.

A solid AV consulting company will give you a dedicated project manager who will not only keep track of all these disparate moving parts, but who will also work to keep you in the loop. This person should be your primary point of contact, the one who is ultimately accountable to your company for the success of your AV endeavors.

Top-Notch Support

Your new AV equipment won’t do you much good if you have no idea how to use it. The AV consultant you ultimately choose should be committed to offering ongoing support to their clients. Look for a  company who will answer phone calls and emails in a timely fashion, no more than 24 hours. Look for someone local who can get a technician to you very quickly.

After all, you’re investing in AV equipment for a reason. It doesn’t make sense to be forced to do without your system for weeks at a time while you wait for someone to get around to helping you. Don’t settle for less than total responsiveness.