June 2014 - Vol 9, Issue 6
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Happy InfoComm Issue!
There are changes afoot at AV Matters! We have created a new website and are now working on an updated newsletter format.  Here's the lowdown:

Since 2006, AV-Matters has been published monthly and sent to subscribers via email. The concept was originally a marketing effort for The Stimson Group, but eventually it grew into its own AV-Matters brand. The time has come for AV-Matters to break out of its little corner and have its own website and identity. Why a [...]...


InfoComm is a whirlwind of quick conversations, handshakes, and nods while we try to cover as much ground as possible. For many of us the pressure is on to get a lot of business done. Just remember, one meeting can make the entire trip worthwhile. You just never know which meeting that will be.


Stimson Portrait At InfoComm in Las Vegas, Tom Stimson will be hosting a unique session called the Rental and Staging Business Exchange (IS030) on Wed, June 18, from 2:30 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. This is not a lecture. You choose the topics and share your insights and experience. Learn more ...     


What do "Retaining Existing Business", "Managing Costs of Goods Sold", and "Improving Our Overall Differentiation" all have in common? They are top of mind for Managers when evaluating their business needs across Sales, Finance, and Strategy. Download the survey report. You can download the survey report here [...]...


Note to IS030 Attendees: the 2014 Business Needs Survey will be used during this session. Download a copy now to get familiar and help you collect your business needs list.    


Welcome Sponsors!
If there is a theme amongst our sponsors, they are boutique, special, and innovative. We are proud be associated with each these firms and are grateful that they support business education and strategic thinking! Please take a moment to learn more about these companies by clicking on their logos.

We'd especially like to welcome our newest sponsor: Mertz Crew is sponsoring this month's Best Practices blog. If you hire freelance crew for projects, then you need to check out Mertz Crew's unique solution to complex employee classification laws.

Interested in Sponsoring AV Matters? Visit our sponsor page or email Tom Stimson.

Thanks for reading and please share this with your co-workers and encourage them to subscribe as well.  As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

Best Wishes,


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Around the Table with Tom Stimson


Have you worked on your business this week? Have you taken the time to learn something that will help you be a better owner, manager, or strategist? The CEO Video Series, Around the Table with Tom Stimson puts you at the table with thought-leaders from successful companies in the Live Events. Plus each episode includes analysis and insights from Tom Stimson, the management expert for the AV Industry.  


Episode 9: Pricing
Do you believe that pricing transparency is good or bad for your business? Why do some CEO's embrace price wars while others shrink from them? Tom Stimson asks the hard questions starting with, "What is your pricing Strategy?"

"When it gets right down to it, what is the client willing to bear?"
"99% of the invoices going out of my office show a discount on it. That is the new industry normal."
"I don't want to be blindsided by my competitor's strategic initiative."
"If you are building value on equipment rental, then you are going to struggle."


Watch Episode 1: 2014 Predictions
Free for a Limited Time Only

To learn more about the series, see the trailer, and to access the free episode - click on the link below.  



bestpracticesBest Practices Blog


About half of my consulting engagements begin because an employee - not the owner or director - called me asking for help.  It goes something like this, "Please,  would you get the owner to wake up and look at what other companies do? He/She believes they have it all figured out, but we are struggling." 

Many of my clients will tell you that after our first meeting I gave them One Thing to do. I call it Get Outside Your Bubble. We are surrounded by our businesses and often fail to look at or interact with other companies. When we focus exclusively inward, we create our own truths and simultaneously exclude conflicting ideas. Occasionally, companies like this succeed, which reinforces those owners that are naturally inclined towards isolationism. Isolated companies - successful or not - often have scars from mistakes that could easily have been avoided. They solved problems expensively that could have been fixed easily. They create complicated work-arounds instead of abandoning a sacred tenet. Bubble Bosses are not difficult to spot.


Top 5 signs that you might be a Bubble Boss:

AV Matters' Best Practices Sponsor 
  1. You have developed proprietary software and won't consider modern off-the-shelf solutions because of your "investment". ("I don't want to lose all this data.")
  2. You have invented employee policies for things like travel and comp time that reflect your personal values ("I can eat on $20 per day in Las Vegas! So should everyone else").
  3. You are afraid to try new things because your employees will "rebel".
  4. You believe that you have to choose between getting the work done and doing the work right ("We are too busy to fix the AV system in our own conference room").
  5. You have initiated multiple lines of business without separate business plans. ("Why aren't we selling more service agreements? It's just an add-on sale!")

How does getting outside your bubble help? You may be surprised to learn that other owners run up against the same challenges as you. Go figure. They have tried things or might be willing to try if they can bounce the idea off a peer.  It opens the mind and occasionally validates beliefs - both are worthwhile outcomes. You might even learn something that will benefit your business tomorrow. However, there are a variety of things that keep some owners inside their bubble. Here's what some owners have actually said to me:

  • "I don't want to find out that I have been wrong all this time about something important."
  • "I believe that if I help someone else, their success takes away from my company."
  • "If another company finds out what I do well, they will steal my employees/customers/processes."
  • "Applying someone else's ideas is cheating."

We can all understand these concerns, but benefits of looking outward far outweigh the risks of exposing yourself. The only cure is to engage with people in your same position in the same industry.  Interact with your peers, even your competitors. Attend industry events and buy a drink for someone whose business you admire. Visit other companies in other towns. "I am visiting the area and would like to meet you, visit your shop, and chat about the industry," is usually a well-received request. You won't solve all your problems and get every question answered in one sitting (even if you hire a great business consultant, it might take a few more conversations), but you will whittle away at the assumptions and presumptions that are holding you back. To me, it's the most important first step towards realizing your and your company's full potential.

You now have just one thing on your to do list: Get Outside Your Bubble.


Tom Stimson, MBA, CTS, is president of Stimson Group LLC, a Dallas-based management consulting firm specializing in strategy, process improvement, and market research for the Audiovisual Industry. Tom is a Past-President of InfoComm International and a current member of InfoComm's Adjunct Faculty. 



Here's a few scribbles from the margins:

Check your policy handbook. How many "rules" are there to prevent something instead of encourage something else? How many were created because of the onetime actions of a person long ago?Would you be proud to have a customer read your employee handbook? Food for thought.

See you next month, - Tom Stimson  


About Thomas R. Stimson, MBA, CTS

Tom Stimson consults with organizations to improve their performance through strategic planning, process improvement, and team development. The Stimson Group provides coaching and tools to companies in the Audiovisual Industry that enable them to define and reach their strategic goals.

Whether you serve the Rental/Staging market, the Systems' Integration market, or or provide blended services - The Stimson Group provides unparalleled expertise, industry insight, and methodologies that drive operational efficiencies and increase profitability. 

For more information visit the website.