Having sat on both sides of the fence as Worship Pastors, Technical and Creative Art’s Directors, Design Engineers, and Integration Specialists, we have seen and experienced the integration processes from every angle. We can relate in every way, and we’ve personally walked these roads before in serving our own churches and organizations. We know how crucial these decisions become. We know what it’s like to have the pressure of leadership’s expectations, as well as trying to maintain a healthy balance, while still achieving crucial deadlines. There can often be drama involved with “courting” multiple integration candidates for an upcoming project, and we know how overwhelming the information, documentation, and fine print can be. There’s no reason it has to be difficult, and we felt it was about time somebody introduced greater levels of accountability into these equations. So we asked ourselves, “How can we help churches and organizations vet integration teams and equipment solutions? How can we truly advocate for them in a fully non-biased way, with no incentive to sell a single piece of equipment, or to promote a particular company or brand? What would it look like if we could introduce them to partners and resources that could help them attain their goals, and form the alliances necessary to execute their vision and allocate their resources to the fullest measures? How can we enable our steadfast relationships with integrators and professionals across the nation (built over years or decades) to instill a confidence in our clients when selecting an AV partner for their project?”
Recognizing the many realities of these processes, seeing the frequent struggles, redundant patterns, and in response to many negative outcomes for churches and organizations, we decided to step out on something that we believe can revolutionize the way we approach projects in this industry. This was the origin of the AV Coalition!
AV Coalition and its model started as just a simple seed in Patrick’s heart while he and James Hurley worked for a prominent integration team. At first, Patrick wasn’t sure how people would react to the idea, and he anticipated they may even try to sink the ship before it sailed, but the response was extremely the opposite! The Lord began to confirm the concept over multiple conversations with churches, leaders, and friends. As Patrick and James dove deeper into the concept, they both felt that God was highlighting a true and major need. This is when the doors started to open, and the AV Co. team began to form.
AV Coalition was created in response to many recurring instances we’ve seen:
- First and foremost – Churches didn’t have a non-biased, 3rd party ally in the AVL space that they could turn to for wisdom and consultation; a team that truly has no incentive to win a sale or promote equipment, and sits fully aligned with the best interests and practices for the church.
- Many times churches don’t understand what they’re committing to and receiving from their integration partners. They often have difficulty attempting to decipher documentation, designs, industry terminology, and proposals.
- They don’t always possess the expertise, or have the previous experience to filter proposals for non-essentials or “up-sells”.
- They struggle to understand the “fine print” and requirements of integrator documents. Therefore, they experience change orders, unexpected fees, and don’t receive the fullest outcomes for their time/resources when designing new buildings, installing new systems, or planning for maintenance and upgrades.
- Churches and their corresponding leadership teams are frequently unsure of how to effectively estimate or determine a proper budget for their project.
- They often over-project their budgets, and under-project their timelines (in our experience, 9 out 10 organizations project at least 150-200% of their final budget in their initial “wish lists”).
- They struggle to allocate and distribute resources efficiently in order to achieve their actual goals or expectations across all areas and requirements
- Churches often lack the relationships, the expertise, and the experience needed to select trusted integration partners and navigate the detailed processes of a project
- They have difficulty communicating with or choosing between integration teams. This is often because there are so many differing, and even opposing perspectives of integration procedures and products
- Many could benefit from having help in pre-packaging the information of their project before shopping integration teams. Not knowing how to prepare can result in wasting a lot of precious and expensive time in the process. Integration teams also try to avoid wasting time or resources on an opportunity that’s not well “qualified” or defined
- Churches with limited resources struggle to find integration teams that can cost-effectively engage their projects
AV Coalition exists to be an advocate for churches when they’re facing AVL projects of all shapes and sizes. We sit in the equation as a fully non-biased, 3rd party that can provide added layers of protection and perspective while organizations vet integration teams and equipment solutions and proposals. We help decipher documentation, verify designs, and clarify the language of contracts, bids, and proposals. We also carry steadfast relationships with partners that we trust across the nation. This aids in the process so that churches don’t have to vet or develop brand new relationships as they engage on these projects. We introduce them to partners and resources that can help them attain their goals, and we form the alliances necessary to execute vision and steward missions and resources to the fullest measures. At AV Coalition, we have a committed standard that we will only introduce churches to teams that we would trust on our own projects.
Our goal and passion is to surround churches with wisdom, perspective, and clarity helping them navigate through crucial processes and decisions. We recognize the responsibility placed on stewarding resources and relationships. We work to find the fullest and most effective solutions and outcomes. It’s our joy and honor to partner with teams across the nation as they step into upgrades, building projects, or maintenance operations.
Many leadership teams require a minimum of 3 bids on any major project or purchase. This can be a HUGE task, and those leaders that are less familiar with AVL may not actually realize what they’re asking of the project coordinator. A few scenarios we witness all of the time are that the leaders tasked with executing these projects are often:
- Young, with some experience, but have never executed a project of any major scale
- A new hire who’s still attempting to learn about the church’s culture, pin-point true needs and align with or create a vision, or is still attempting to understand the current system(s) they inherited before deciding what’s next
- Well versed in some areas and technologies, but lacking knowledge in other major areas the project requires
- Adding this huge responsibility on top of their existing/residual pastoral or other responsibilities leading to imbalance and overdraws on family, health, and other first priorities.
These scenarios often result in deficits, burnouts, and frustrations along the way…
Another of the most prominent discrepancies we witness in the course of these projects is that it would create a conflict of interest for a church to take Candidate A’s proposal to Candidate B to vet each other’s documents. Therefore, much of the process has to be navigated in confidence without consulting each candidate about one another’s offerings. It’s like an episode of “The Bachelor” where the church or organization is secretly (or even openly) “dating” multiple integration partners at the same time. It can be dramatic, emotional, and uncomfortable for all parties, and eventually someone’s heart has to be broken! During that process the hope is that these partners are all giving their best advice and prices. However, the proposals could be worlds apart. We’ve seen gaps as large as 1 candidate’s proposal being $85,000 while another’s is nearly $300,000 for the same project! And what does this come down to? Believe it or not, it’s most often NOT any lack of integrity. Rather, we would propose it’s most often based on one simple word… “PERSPECTIVE.” It’s apples vs oranges, or in extreme cases, apples vs onions. This often leaves churches feeling confused, hesitating in trust, lacking in truly realizing their options, and/or compromised in their relationships with vendors. Most often, a church’s only real option or ally would be to attempt to consult with another church in hopes that their leaders may have some additional experience to offer.
These AVL projects and their processes can be extremely daunting and really beg the expertise of a team that has sat on both sides of the fence. A team that understands vision, stewardship, and church culture, but also the ins and outs of integration, design, documentation, and leading technologies and equipment. These scenarios started to echo the need for a team like AV Coalition to exist as an advocate for the church, and as a resource to form vetted, trusted alliances with integration partners.
Time and time again we’ve witnessed as churches feel taken advantage of after completing an integration project. Often, accusing the integration partners of things like:
- They didn’t work hard enough at understanding our mission, goals, culture, and preferences
- They didn’t do their due diligence when recommending equipment
- We could have saved a bunch of money if they would have told us “Fill in the blank”
- They didn’t tell us we could have afforded a better solution at the time
- They “up-sold” equipment just to make more money, or placed unnecessary pieces in the proposals to lift the budget for their own benefits.
However, let’s pause. Just for a moment…
Are there companies out there that are guilty of any of these things? Absolutely! BUT… rather than assume any lack of integrity from the integration teams, it’s a bold realization to recognize that, often, the fault also lies with the church. It’s just as frequently a lack of knowledge, wisdom, or experience from the church’s leadership on these projects that causes mis-understandings, gaps in communication, and deficits in the final products.
A non-biased, 3rd party like AV coalition can help a church understand which pieces of equipment are required or “standard” as a backbone to the infrastructure, and which others aren’t truly necessary. We can present opportunities and perspectives that an integrator with certain preferences might not otherwise advise or suggest (like when a certain piece of equipment or brand could be swapped for another piece of equipment to save some money or expand functionality). A partner like AV Coalition can bring understanding to the documentation and language of designs and proposals for your new system or building. We can help churches save a lot of time, stress, resource, and heartache in attempting to research and filter through all of the recommendations, equipment pieces, and integration teams candidating for the project. We also serve the integration partner in a positive way by helping their clients gain a high level understanding of their expectations, fee structures, and management procedures. Ultimately however, our primary goal is to surround your church with added layers of wisdom, advice, and perspective to help you make the RIGHT choices for your project.