Getting quotes for church AV systems takes forever! Why?
by Ken McKibben, on Mar 23, 2020 2:41:36 PM
It may seem like a simple proposition to get a quote for new church technology, but there are numerous factors involved in determining the correct balance of cost and features to effectively meet your church’s needs. The process is so complicated that in many cases it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for you to get a quote from a reputable company. Considering that most church’s work under bylaws that require multiple proposals for a given project, it can often take six months or more to gather all of the information needed for a final vote. Why does it take so long?
AV System Information Gathering
There’s a ton of information needed before an AVL company can even begin to talk intelligently about your specific needs including:
- Understanding of your vision including programming details related to intended use
- Inventories of existing equipment that might be used in the new system as a cost-saving measure
- Experience level of your tech team
- Architectural dimension data needed to select equipment and determine where to locate speakers, projectors, lights, etc.
- Logistical information including cable pathways, lift/scaffold accessibility, power requirements, etc.
- Structural limitations
- Aesthetic impact of the equipment components
- Input and output lists for each system
Churches often approach AVL companies without detailed project scope documentation, and it can dramatically slow down the process of getting a quote. If each company at the table has to farm this information independently, it’s going to take significantly longer to complete the process. Check out this link for more information (Link to Need 3 Bids article).
AVL System Engineering Takes Time
Once the AVL company has the necessary information from you, the system has to be engineered to an extent that reliable design recommendations can be made. This design process should include:
- Computer-based analysis (3D acoustical modeling, loudspeaker coverage plots, photometric studies, projector brightness calculations, etc.) which may be performed by in-house system designers or, in cases where the AVL company lacks the in-house engineering resources, it may be outsourced to the equipment manufacturers.
- Conduit & electrical systems should be evaluated to determine cable pathways and service needs.
- Structural requirements should be analyzed to ensure that the specified system can be safely installed.
- Comparison of a range of products to ensure the best components are selected or recommended based on cost and features
The more time spent in pre-sales engineering, the more reliable your proposals will ultimately be. Proposals that are based solely on pre-packaged systems, past experience or cost-per-seat formulas can be delivered quickly, however they should be considered carefully. Every project is different and you should expect your project to require some degree of custom engineering in order to be effective.
The Church AVL Proposal Process Should Not Be “One and Done”
Unless your system has been fully designed by the end of the proposal phase, every quote you receive represents some degree of a guess at your needs. The first proposal you receive will rarely meet all of your requirements. In most cases refinement will be necessary, and in many cases some level of value engineering will be requested in order to meet the church’s budgetary limitations.
You should expect to require at least one revision in the proposal process. Three or four revisions is common, and we’ve seen it take as many as ten for the decision-makers in the church to finally arrive at a consensus. The revision process takes time and should not be rushed.
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Audio Visual Efficiency & Market Demand
Like all industries, the AVL market is driven by demand. Most churches operate on a seasonal cycle with Christmas and Easter as major drivers for AVL upgrades. Some churches slow down in Summer, and many have year-end budget deadlines in October. These ebbs and flows can make it difficult for AVL companies to respond quickly to requests from churches, especially the last-minute requests that are common in our industry.
When AVL companies are swamped with a glut of proposal requests, they can often become bogged down. Many lack efficient systems for managing an onslaught of proposal requests, and the lack of efficiency can render exceptionally long lead times for proposal delivery.
Waiting for church sound, video and lighting quotes can be extremely frustrating. The process is long and complicated, but you don’t want to rush unnecessarily. These systems involve a significant investment of time and money and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Getting organized and understanding how the process works represents your best opportunity for speeding things along without sacrificing quality in the process.