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Score an A+ with Panasonic

Hi All!  First-time blogger here!  As I’ve been pondering what I wanted to share with you, it occurred to me, spring is here and the Education season is right around the corner.  Of course, the other reality hit me “where did Jan., Feb., Mar., and Apr. go this year”…time really does fly.

It’s timely that Panasonic recently introduced a new line of LCD Laser portable projectors specifically designed to support a wide range of education and business applications.  The PT-VMZ series of products offer PT-VMZ40U – 4500 lumens and currently shipping, and

PTVMZ50U – 5000 lumens and just beginning to ship. The next on its way to begin shipping in June (just in time for Education) is the PTVMZ60U – 6000 lumens.  They feature 20,000-hours of consistent brightness and color accuracy.  These lasers feature 1.6x zoom lenses great for short throw-distances and support wide vertical/horizontal lens-shift to achieve flexibility for various installations to include small classrooms, meeting rooms, and limited spaces with multiple projectors.  Panasonic’s DIGITAL LINK connection, based on HDBaseT, transmits video, audio, and control signals through a single LAN cable for distances p to 492’ for Full HD & and 164’ for 4K video.  It makes for a simple and cost-effective installation while delivering consistently high quality video!  If it’s 4500 – 6000 lumens project, Panasonic has a solution for you with this series. I’ve only given you a sampling of the features on the VMZ series.  There are a lot more bells and whistles worthy of your time to check out!  Panasonic is running a mail-in rebate program to receive the wireless module (AJ-WM50) for FREE when purchased from Panasonic authorized dealer.  Please reach out to me if you are interested in learning more about this Panasonic product or others!

 

Contact our Panasonic Specialist, Angie Greene, to learn how to grow your business with cutting edge technology that excels in any application.

Angie Greene, DSCE
888-420-2566 x6209  |  [email protected]

5 Reasons to Invest in Training

Whether you are the owner of a small AV integration firm or a manager at a large national integrator chances are you are faced with the same struggle of finding the time to attend training for yourself or send your employees for training.   Often this can be costly and time consuming however the benefits of a highly trained workforce will almost always outweigh the short term costs.  Here are five reasons you should consider training for yourself or for your staff:

1.

Staying on Top of the Latest Technology Trends

I think we can all agree that like many industries the world of commercial AV technology is constantly changing and evolving, not only with the technology itself, but with the needs of our customers.   A recent example of this has been the explosive growth in “huddle spaces” within corporations, and the technology advancements developed to meet these needs.   If you are not aware of the latest trends and equipped to handle them you will likely find yourself losing business to competitors.

2.

Enhance Customer Service

Think about a time when you were interested in making a purchase, any type of purchase, it doesn’t have to be technology, and you felt your sales person was not educated about the product. How did that make you feel about that company? Your customers will always get better service from a well-trained employee, whether it is your sales person, project manager or installation technician.

3.

Keep Your Certifications Current

While there are many certifications in our industry, the most common and well recognized is infoComm’s CTS. The CTS, CTS-I, and CTS-D are important designations and require a significant amount of time and effort to achieve. Any CTS holder understands the importance of continuing education and obtaining CTS RU’s in order to maintain their certification. RU’s can be obtained in a variety of different methods including live classroom training, various trade events like Almo’s E4 AV Tour, and webinars.

4.

Less Supervision

As an owner or manager you are faced with the difficult challenge of running your business and managing employees often while being involved in work that could be handled by properly trained employees freeing you up for other tasks. Well trained employees will be able to work more independently without the need for constant guidance, and will help your staff be more confident and satisfied in their job.

5.

Reduce Employee Turnover

Hiring new employees can be time consuming, expensive, and involve risk if the right hire is not made. Providing training opportunities for your employees shows them your interest in advancing their professional skills and will enhance company loyalty and increased employee contributions to your business. Often, employees thrive on knowing they are a key contributor to their company as much as they enjoy monetary compensation.

Almo’s E4 AV Tour has stops in New York on September 19th and in California on October 3rd , and in addition to an exhibit of the newest technology from over 35 top manufacturers, attendees will have the ability to earn InfoComm CTS RU’s throughout the day via classroom training.

Direct vs. AV Distribution: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Benefits of AV Distribution

“Oh, so you’re the middle man.” With implications of inflated costs and unnecessary complexity, this was the disparaging response from an old acquaintance while catching up after a time apart. Putting aside Almo’s “value add” let’s look at the real financial implications of sourcing equipment; considering both the hard- and soft-dollar costs of a purchase order. Hard-dollars are the unit cost of the equipment and freight. Soft-dollar expenses associated with purchase orders include:

  • The time spent getting quotes.
  • Receiving shipments (and associated work interruptions).
  • Reconciling packing lists.
  • Cutting checks.
  • Balancing the checking account.
  • The process of managing cash-flow.
  • Coordinating returns with vendors.
  • Warehousing and staging equipment until all items have arrived for a project.

Each of these soft dollar items has a direct cost in wages along with an opportunity cost from lost employee productivity. There are numerous studies available on the Internet discussing the costs of issuing a purchase order. Some studies show a range of $35.88 for automated purchase orders to $741 for some manual POs. To find your cost per PO, add up the time spent each week on all of the above activities and divide by the total number of purchase orders.

The following tables compare streamlined purchasing of equipment for a modest project through buying direct from manufacturers versus the same purchase from a distributor. These scenarios reflect actual prices of commonly used equipment. The soft-dollar average of $75 reflects the low-end of actual cost per PO as communicated by our commercial integrator clients. The manufacturer names and model numbers are masked to protect integrators and resellers from this information reaching the end user.

 

Scenario 1) Single Source from an AV Distributor

Qty Manufacturer Description Unit $ Ext $
1 Manufacture A Controller / switcher / amp $3,710.00 $3,710.00
1 Manufacture A 7” touch panel $2,340.00 $2,340.00
1 Manufacturer C Ceiling Mounting Plate for Projector $31.33 $31.33
1 Manufacturer D Projection screen $1,286.76 $1,286.76
4 Manufacturer F Remote Sequenced Power Conditioner $124.97 $499.88
1 Manufacturer F Rackmount Power Conditioner / Sequencer $343.72 $343.72
1 Manufacturer P Projector $2,474.73 $2,474.73
2 Manufacturer P Wall Mount for Displays $200.00 $400.00
1 Manufacturer P Ceiling mount bracket for high ceilings $823.08 $823.08
1 Manufacturer P Bracket assembly $274.73 $274.73
2 Manufacturer P 50” Display $839.78 $1,679.56
3 Manufacturer Q Ceiling Speakers (Pair) $214.76 $644.28
Sub Total: $14,508.07
Freight: $500
“Hard Dollar” Total: $15,008.07
1 Purchase Order (Soft Dollar Average) $75.00 $75.00
Total: $15,083.07

In order to provide a conservative estimate of savings: shipping is calculated to Lebanon, KS – the geographic center of the Continental US. Assumed origination point is a warehouse in Pennsylvania, even though closer options are available. This maximizes the distributor shipping cost in this example.

Scenario 2) Multi-source from Individual Manufacturers

Qty Manufacturer Description Unit $ Ext $
1 Manufacture A Controller / switcher / amp $3,710.00 $3,710.00
1 Manufacture A 7” touch panel $2,340.00 $2,340.00
Manufacturer A Freight: $75.00
1 Manufacturer C Ceiling Mounting Plate for Projector $31.33 $31.33
Manufacturer C Freight: $12.00
1 Manufacturer D Projection screen $1,286.76 $1,286.76
Manufacturer D Freight: $200.00
4 Manufacturer F Remote Sequenced Power Conditioner $124.97 $499.88
1 Manufacturer F Rackmount Power Conditioner / Sequencer $343.72 $343.72
Manufacturer F Freight: $28.00
1 Manufacturer P Projector $2,474.73 $2,474.73
2 Manufacturer P Wall Mount for Displays $200.00 $400.00
1 Manufacturer P Ceiling mount bracket for high ceilings $823.08 $823.08
1 Manufacturer P Bracket assembly $274.73 $274.73
2 Manufacturer P 50” Display $839.78 $1,679.56
Manufacturer P Freight: $280.00
3 Manufacturer Q Ceiling Speakers (Pair) $214.76 $644.28
Manufacturer Q Freight: $85.00
Equipment Total $14,508.07
Freight: $680.00
“Hard Dollar” Total: $15,188.07
7 Purchase Orders (Soft Dollar Average) $75.00 $525.00
Total: $15,713.07

Improving the Margins of Error on Your AV:

What would an additional margin of 1 to 4% do for your business? The above comparison favors using a distributor due to a 4.1% lower cost. This assumes per-unit costs are the same for purchasing direct and from a distributor. In some situations, not all, the per-unit cost for an item may be as much as 3% lower by purchasing direct. Running the above comparison with a 3% discount across all products for direct purchases brings the equipment total down $14,072.83 with a new total of $15,277.83. This is still a 1.3% savings by using a distributor. For the sake of brevity, these scenarios do not include every item necessary for a complete system. If we add in racks, cables, and all the other necessary elements for a complete system, the comparable savings would only increase. Additionally, in order to provide an “apples-to-apples”, the mount manufacturer specified above is constrained to the same manufacturer as the display and projector. However, over 80% of display and projector mounts are not supplied by display or projector manufacturers. As such, real world savings will be greater as more manufacturers are added to the mix.

But Wait, There’s More:

The reduced opportunity cost of streamlined purchasing can also result in productivity gains. This has the greatest implications for smaller firms where most people juggle multiple responsibilities. How long does it take a design engineer or sales person to regain full focus on a project after multiple interruptions by UPS, FedEx, and other freight deliveries for a single project? How much time is spent gathering quotes from multiple vendors only to find any potential savings diluted through increased shipping costs? How many “to-do” items are aging on your list and how would your business grow if more of them were completed? Regaining otherwise lost productivity through streamlined purchasing may allow for faster project completion, additional bid responses, selling more jobs, and greater efficiencies in general.

There may be circumstances where purchasing directly from a manufacturer may save a few dollars – perhaps with a single-item box sale. When considering some distributors also provide equipment staging, simplified communication with manufacturers, more flexible credit terms, technical expertise, and education; the benefits extend beyond streamlined purchasing. If you have not looked into utilizing the services of a distributor lately, you may be leaving money on the table.

Springing Forward on the 2017 Spring E4 AV Tour

A Behind-the-Scenes Interview with Gary Bailer, Director of Product Management, Sharp

Ahh, spring is definitely in the air! The snow is melting, the birds are singing, we’ve changed the clocks and have more afternoon daylight…oh, and the Almo E4 AV Tour is on the road!

Each year, the tour visits two cities in the spring and two cities in the fall. In March, we stopped to spend the day with a record number – MORE than 500! — of attendees in Chicago.

The tour moves on to San Jose April 19.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO AN ALMO E4?

Post your experience in the comments section of this post and earn a $5 Starbucks Gift Card!

Months and months and MONTHS of planning goes into preparing for an E4! And it’s not just Almo working around the clock to make it happen. Our manufacturing partners take an ENORMOUS amount of time planning which products they will showcase in their booths and what they’d like to discuss with attendees on the exhibit floor. For the spring E4s in particular, our exhibitors oftentimes show products that were previewed at ISE and DSE or “sneak peek” those that are launching at InfoComm in June!

Did you know that SHARP has been on EVERY stop of the E4 AV Tour since it began in 2009! So this will be the 30th time that Sharp has gone through this process with Almo Pro A/V!

Recently, I put on my “investigative reporting” hat and had a chat with Gary Bailer, Director of Product Management for Sharp:

Darren:

Gary:

What do you like best about Almo’s E4 AV Tour?

Hands down, E4 is the BEST networking event for the commercial AV community. It has all the benefits of a full-fledged tradeshow but in an environment that lends itself to more in-depth discussions and relationship-building. Almo puts on a first-class event — each one has been better than the one before!

Darren:

Gary:

Is Sharp showing any new products?

Yes! We are showing the brand NEW PN-C705B AQUOS BOARD interactive display with Direct Bonding technology. This product is currently available and shipping! It is a 70- or 80-inch value-priced display that is made for schools and businesses. E4 attendees absolutely have to come by to take a look at it. We introduced this product in January.

Darren:

Gary:

Any new initiatives from Sharp that we should know about?

Our NEW PN-L401C Capacitive Touch Huddle Display with Mini OPS Expandability (cards that allow the panel to be more versatile) will be shown in San Jose. This product is 100 percent AQUOS BOARD in that it’s an interactive display — it can be used in either landscape, portrait or face-up orientation — and allows for wireless collaboration, annotation, screen sharing (wirelessly) and whiteboarding.

Darren:

Gary:

Will you have any booth contests or prizes?

Yes!  We’ve invited a local artist to use the Sharp PN-C705B AQUOS BOARD® Interactive Display to draw caricatures of visitors to the booth.

POST YOUR CARICATURE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS BLOG AND YOU’LL BE ENTERED TO WIN A GIFT FROM SHARP!

Darren:

Gary:

What’s your advice for those attending an E4 event?

Absolutely make time for this one-day event! The contacts you will make, the technology you will have exposure to, and the courses and workshops you will take are going to be invaluable to your business.

We are taking a lot of photos and videos from the Sharp booth during the spring E4 tour.  My next post will reveal some of these moments. We look forward to seeing you in San Jose!

Almo Kicks-off New Hospitality Division with Full Day Hospitality Conference at E4 in Chicago Co-Located with Almo E4 Expo (March 21 & 22)

Almo Hospitality will unveil the latest technology trends and teach valuable skills to help resellers grow their business in 2017.  Hospitality Conference at E4 (March 21st) includes a full-day of hospitality-dedicated agenda with opening presentation by Samsung’s dynamic Vice President of Hospitality TV, Jonas Tanenbaum with Hospitality Industry Update & Trends Driving Integration.

THE FOLLOWING SESSIONS ROUND OUT THE AGENDA:

  • · Driving Revenues & Customer Loyalty with Hospitality Installations (Steven’s Digital)
  • · Catering to Hotel Guests & Drive Revenues with Samsung REACH
  • · ALMO Connect: The Ultimate Shopping Service for Free-to-Guest TV, Bandwidth & Voice (Comcast Business Solutions)
  • · RoomCast: How Today’s Guests Watch TV (TeleAdapt)
  • · The Significance of Brand Standards in the Hotel Industry (Peerless-AV)
  • · Charged Up! Drive Revenues & Guest Satisfaction Ratings with the Latest in Hospitality Charging Trends (Kube Systems)
  • · BrightSign Digital Signage Experience LIVE Workshop
  • · Navigating the World of FF&E with Hospitality Furniture & Furnishings (Ramler International)

The Hospitality Conference at E4 wraps with an energetic and interactive discussion led by the authentic Kiwi, Almo’s own Stephen McKay, Senior Vice President- Special Markets.

This action-packed day concludes with a fun yet relaxed customer appreciation and networking dinner at a local Oak Brook area gem hosted by Almo Hospitality along with Samsung and other manufacturer partners where customers will have the opportunity to mix and mingle with our hospitality team and get to know our family of customers and vendors over a memorable dining experience!

Hospitality Conference at E4 attendees will automatically be registered for a full-access pass to the Almo E4 Tour & Expo the following day (March 22nd) where they will see the very latest technology and tech-trends from 35+ leading vendors in the Pro AV space including: Pro AV, Digital Signage, Audio, Electronics & Charging Solutions, Appliances & Furniture and Furnishings- PLUS a special Almo Hospitality Exhibit featuring some of our most in-demand product offerings for hotel properties, including solutions from: Samsung, Peerless-AV, Harman/AMX, Kube Systems, TeleAdapt, Danby, Hanover & Ramler International; even our hospitality-dedicated installation partner, Steven’s Digital and free-to-guest provider, Comcast will be there to talk shop!

Space for the Hospitality Conference at E4 is limited so register today to confirm your spot! 

Resellers are welcome to invite their customers to join them for the E4 Expo (March 22) as a resource to help end users see the latest technology and talk with on-site experts so resellers can help them with full implementation; E4 Expo Registration.  Both events are free to attendees and resellers; free breakfast and lunch is also provided (as well as dinner for registered conference attendees).  We look forward to learning your “lightbulb moment!”.

Please contact Apryl G. Lamberti, Director Business Development Hospitality with Almo Professional A/V with any questions or for more information.

 

BRING YOUR DIGITAL SIGNAGE OUT OF LA LA LAND

I recently spent a “date night” with my husband watching the beautifully shot widescreen CinemaScope, LA LA LAND.

The vivid colors, dancing, and music brought my thoughts to a time when movies were “silent”.   Imagine how less invigorating the movie would have been without sound.  It would definitely have fallen short of expectations.

The same can be said for specific Pro AV solutions.  Think of how much more engaging they would be, with sound.  Audio enhances the way the audience will perceive certain scenes.  Picture a silent video clip with trees blowing in the wind.   Do you have a visual?  Now, add sound.  Suddenly the image provides boosts of emotion.  It can create an implication; even stimulate a feeling.

Too often, audio gets bumped down the priority list.  Not adding enhanced options could result in an experience that falls short of expectations.

The good news is it’s relatively easy to ensure a positive audio experience during video communications or digital signage solutions.  Many of the audio business opportunities are “hidden”.   Your customers are not asking for audio, yet the vast majority of their solutions need audio.

So how do you spot these opportunities?

You look for clues.  When you inquire about the location of the installation, you find the key to open the door to new opportunities.  Audio solutions enhance environments like showrooms, restaurants, casinos, theme parks, waiting rooms, convention centers, trade shows and museums.  Consumers are inspired by what they see and hear.  Adding audio capabilities to digital signage should be a natural partnership.  Adding audio gives you the ability to be appealing, as opposed to repetitive.

Are there best practices to using sound?

According to a past article in the Digital Signage Insider, there are guidelines for not only when, but how to use sound.

1. Don’t rely on sound alone to make your message.
2. Use audio to punctuate on an already strong and compelling visual message
3. Make sure your audio supports the same points as your video (it’s a partnership)
4. Audio enhances Visual

Adding audio capabilities to digital signage can definitely help your business grow.  As we dive into 2017, remember to put the “A” back into “AV” when mapping out your digital signage.

Please join ALMO PRO AV on February 23rd, for our company webinar entitled “AV Starts with Audio”

Develop solutions to help leverage the human experience of sight and sound.  By leaving the audio out of the solution, you are missing opportunities to build your business, leaving revenue opportunities in LA LA LAND.

Register Today

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