Winning Bids, Growing the Business with D-Tools
Southtown Audio Video (SAV) president and owner Heather Sidorowicz is adamant about the tangible and intangible benefits of using D-Tools System Integrator (SI) software within her Hamburg, New York-based residential and commercial integration firm. “We more than doubled our gross sales from one year to the next after implementing D-Tools,” she says. “Without it, we never would have been able to do that. The D-Tools platform allows us to get the word out about who we are and to showcase our professionalism.”
SAV works predominantly in the commercial space, specializing in corporate, education, hospitality, government, and retail spaces. However, the company’s extensive experience in residential installations lends a unique perspective to projects. “There’s a weird disconnect between home technology and commercial spaces,” says Sidorowicz. “At home, the client always strives for the best experience. They want the best technology. In the corporate space, we tend to forget that AV is the fun stuff. If we don’t come in and present it that way, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. D-Tools helps us deliver that message.”
Opening Doors to Bigger Projects – Evergreen Health Services Buffalo
D-Tools has also opened doors for Southtown AV, permitting the small integration firm to successfully, design, bid and install larger projects, including a five-story, multi-room upgrade in Evergreen Health Services Buffalo facility. Evergreen is a non-profit, multi-agency service group providing medical, pharmacy and other services to individuals and families throughout Western New York.
When Evergreen Health Services first began the expansion project, the builder already had a larger integrator in mind. But thanks to SAV’s previous work within the facility and the relationship Sidorowicz had developed with the client, SAV earned the opportunity to bid on the project. “They brought us into the meeting and, with the information Evergreen’s representatives provided, I was able to break out the system designs in D-Tools—all the audio, video and control systems across five floors,” Sidorwicz recalls. “D-Tools helped me create a beautiful visual presentation.”
When Sidorowizc came back to do the presentation—the largest presentation she’d ever made—she shared a visual D-Tools proposal that brought the organization’s vision to life. “It looked professional, and it was easy to read and understand. I knew there was no sense in trying to talk over their heads. They had an objective, and I showed them how technology could accomplish it—in the simplest, most visually appealing way possible.”
D-Tools Helps the Client Visualize the End Result
The Evergreen Health Services building was an extension to the organization’s Buffalo location, adding a clinic with multiple examination rooms, a boardroom, conference rooms for departments within the organization to meet, and smaller huddle rooms for group training or video conferences. The lobby features an eye-catching digital signage set up with three Planar SL4351 LEDs in portrait orientation. The images on the screens can be edge-blended to create a single, large image, or each monitor can show an individual image. The display shares information about Evergreen and its services, and also greets visitors to the healthcare facility. “That lobby display gave us a chance to be creative, and give the client something that would capture attention when people enter the building,” says Sidorowicz.
Even with the digital signage boldly greeting visitors in the lobby, the technology in the facility doesn’t detract from the overall aesthetics. This was especially important in the huddle rooms where the client was looking for an audio system that would provide a consistent design and a pleasing aesthetic, along with exceptional audio. It was also important to Sidorowicz that the sound emanated from the area of the screen, rather than through ceiling speakers, which is all-too-common in commercial applications. “If you’re watching something, you want the voice to come from where the screen is. In the residential world, we’d call that the center channel,” she says. Utilizing D-Tools’ comprehensive Data Library of manufacturers’ products, HZ-OTO soundbars from Leon Speakers, custom-built to match Sony FWD75X850D 75-inch commercial LEDs, solved the problem. “You don’t notice the soundbar is there. Whether you use it or not, it doesn’t detract from the room. In fact, it adds to the aesthetics of the space, provides beautiful sound, and is all the things audio should be in this world,” says Sidorowicz.
The D-Tools platforms professional proposal and system designs permitted Sidorowicz to provide enticing visuals of the audio/video displays before installation, showing the client exactly what they were getting and how it would enhance each room.
D-Tools Saves Time on Room Design
The $227,000 project, the largest SAV has tackled, to date, was made easier to design and specify thanks to D-Tools’ ability to clone room designs. Conference rooms and, separately, exam rooms, all used similar equipment, to offer a consistent user experience. “We didn’t want the users fighting over specific rooms,” says Sidorowicz. “We copied as much as we could within each room, so users could go in, know how to use it, and be comfortable there. Each of the five conference rooms was the same as the others, just in a different space.”
These rooms use a Crestron DM system, with Crestron Connect-It devices on tabletops to simplify room control. “They didn’t need all the capabilities of a touchscreen. They just wanted a simple solution. The Crestron Connect-It just puts out the right RS-232 code to connect automatically to the TV with the push of a button. The client’s thrilled with it,” says Sidorowicz.
In addition, the conference rooms all use Crestron Fusion, which interfaces with the calendar in the digital signage system to indicate when a room is in use. It was the first time SAV had ever integrated a Fusion system, which uses a lighted keypad next to the door of a meeting room, which glows red to indicate when the room in use. “D-Tools gave me a comfort level and confidence to tackle this technology,” says Sidorowicz. “We were able to use our D-Tools designs and drawings to show the Crestron team exactly what we needed in each space. The client is very happy with the Fusion system and the way we installed it.”
A New Way to Accurately Quote Labor
As the largest project SAV has ever done, the Evergreen installation gave Sidorowicz a chance to expand her knowledge of the D-Tools platform and try features she hadn’t used before. For instance, by attaching a labor cost to each part, she was able to eliminate itemized labor, making bids more accurate and user-friendly. “We knew each time we installed a Leon soundbar, for instance, how many hours it would take,” explains Sidorowicz. “I can feel more confident that every quote is accurate.”
Five Rooms, Only One Revision
Sidorowicz has also begun to take advantage of D-Tools’ extensive reporting features. “We can generate reports that show the client the purpose of each component. We were able to break the systems down not just into rooms, but into floors, and then add another layer of differentiation by breaking down the audio, video and control systems separately,” she explained. With such detailed drawings and descriptions, the client had only a few questions after Sidorowicz presented the proposal. Best of all, the client signed the contract after only one revision. “I call that a win!” says Sidorowicz.
A year’s worth of experience with D-Tools and taking advantage of live tech support when she had questions has given Sidorowicz greater confidence using the design and estimation software. “I know going into it how to build each project even better,” she says. “I’m saving design time, which also saves money.”
Successfully Upselling Sound
Sidorowicz’s expertise and the trust SAV earned from the client led to the installation of distributed audio throughout the second-story clinic to help meet HIPAA regulations, the standards governing patient privacy and confidentiality of medical information. “Anytime you’re in a doctor’s office you always hear the doctor and patient in the room next door. Even if you don’t want to, there’s nothing else to focus on,” explains Sidorowicz. To solve this challenge, Sidorowicz suggested installing ceiling speakers to play music throughout the clinic, giving the patients a different audio focal point, masking voices from adjacent exam rooms, and, as a side benefit, helping patients relax.
Focusing on What Matters: Client Satisfaction
Even more important, though, than the $15,000 audio upsell that put the project over the $200,000 mark, is the way SAV delivered above and beyond expectations to create a happy client. “I’ve gotten additional clients through referrals based on our work with Evergreen,” she says. “I can take clients to tour the building. And I can proudly say that this client in the heart of the downtown Buffalo area is happy to talk about their experience with us. This tremendous success is all interwoven with our relationship with D-Tools,” she concludes.