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There are two ways you can procure AV systems. The first option is hiring a design-build company. These companies have the ability to provide design services, as well as provide full installation, programming and support of AV systems. In this scenario, the design-build company will offer design services at an aggressive rate with the hope that they will be selected to be the integrator. The pros of this method include an accelerated timeline and nothing gets ‘lost in translation’ from the design to installation as it’s the same company performing both activities. A challenge with this approach is that it can sometimes be difficult to gain interest in the project by other AV integrators. Historically, when an AV design-build company performs the design, there is an added incentive of staying with that company due to cost and the intimate knowledge they’ve gained during the discovery and design process.
The second option is hiring a third-party designer who only provides design services. When an AV design firm provides a quote for design services, they do not have the benefit of potentially selling equipment to offset their design fee, thus their fees reflect the full time spent, and in turn, tend to be higher than a design-build company. The benefits of this option, however, reside in the fact that this company can provide independent design services without any biases to any specific products. In addition, as design-only firms are not quoting on the installation, it creates a more competitive bidding atmosphere knowing that all bidders are working from the same information.