What Questions Should An AV Installer Ask Before Striking Out On Their Own?




Full disclosure: I've known Chaz MacCarron for almost two years, and I love him. Chaz is the first person to arrive at the office, and one of the last to leave. I would entrust him installing something gorgeous, upright, and sleek in my home any day of the week. He's one of the best technicians I know, full of soul and honesty. Chaz works for Electronic Home, a home electronics company, in Atlanta, Georgia. Before that though, he worked for himself for some time. It got me to thinkingwhy did he decide to be independent? And what made him return to working for a dealer? What are the questions an intelligent AV installer like himself would ask before jumping into unknown waters? 

JS: A couple of years ago you decided you wanted to be an independent contractor. Why did you decide to strike out on your own?

CM: It was about flexibility with time and things like that. I made more money without working as many hours. There were weeks when I would work five to six days a week and other times when I only worked two days.

I know you're now back working for your former employer, Electronic Home, in Atlanta. What made you go back?

Most of the ties that I have are in Florida, so I was doing subcontracting here in Atlanta and in Florida. But in Atlanta I wasn’t able to branch out as far as I was in Florida. Plus Randy [CEO of Electronic Home]  made me a pretty good offer. I’m a very structured type of person. I like to know about problems so I can control them. Randy’s a very good person, and he keeps you informed on what’s going on.

What do you like about installing?

I like to install and I love creating things with my hands. I find pride in being able to put things together and then see a final working product. There’s more joy in that than there is in programming.

Before a technician begins working for themselves, what are the questions they should ask?


  1. Where exactly is the work going to come from?
  2. Do you have dealers lined up who will give you subcontracting work to supplement your income? Because unless you’re stealing customers from your previous employer, you won’t have a lot to start off with.
  3. Word of mouth is your best source for work in the AV industry. But it’s a matter of getting in front of the right client at the right time. I have a friend who ran into a lady in Best Buy once. She was buying this part and he started talking to her. She ended up becoming a client and giving him $200,000 worth of business.
  4. Unless you’re stealing clients from your previous employer, you won’t have a lot in the beginning. I think it’s unethical to do that, but at the same time, if the customer is unhappy with the dealer, they're going to go somewhere else anyways—it’s a catch 22 because you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. 
  5. Do you have any backing to sustain yourself? Have you saved any money? There will be weeks that you have work and weeks that you don’t.
  6. What vendors do you want to use and which ones are you interested in using?
  7. Are you going to work out of your house or will you have a showroom?
  8. Where do you see it going? Will it be a one or two man operation or do you eventually want it to grow to six crews with six different vans? It can go many different ways. 

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