Why You Need a Full-Service AVL Provider
We understand why it might seem appealing to hire multiple companies that each specialize in one aspect of production for your next event. Surely an audio specialist, or a video specialist, would do a better job than someone who does all three, right?
Many companies used to work exclusively in one or maybe two areas. You’d find lighting specialists, or maybe audio-video specialists, but few companies who provided full service.
Today, however, companies are largely moving toward a full-service model to provide clients with a full AVL package, all in one place. And that’s a good thing.
AVL companies don’t lose their specialties by providing more services. They add to them.
They retain each department’s specialists, and the only difference is that now all three departments are under one roof and can work as a team.
Full-service AVL partners offer significant, though sometimes hidden, benefits that prevent inefficiencies and make live events run more smoothly than ever.
Benefit 1: Team Effort
A full-service company has people who specialize in their own areas, but who can also work smoothly together across all departments. By working and spending time together under one roof, they become a cohesive team.
They already know each department’s needs, habits, and preferences, and they can help each other catch anything that might have been overlooked. They simplify planning and coordination by considering each specialty as they design solutions. They’ll never plan a PA for the spot where a projection screen should go.
Team members jump in to help one another, so nothing falls through the cracks. You can see it in things like audio specialists — who are all packed up — offering the video department a hand at the end of the day.
This is widely different when specialists from multiple companies work together. The majority of the time, no one knows each other and everyone is hyper-focused on their own tasks. You likely won’t find this siloed mentality at a full-service firm.
Benefit 2: Avoiding Load-In Confusion
CTS has worked as one of several specialists on projects many times. Recently, for example, a client hired CTS for a conference, but only for audio and lighting. They hired a separate company to act as their video and staging providers.
But with multiple companies and schedules, a conflict emerged in the load-in plan. The stage had been scheduled to go in at the same time that we were scheduled to work over the stage. We needed to use a lift for our work, which would interfere with the other crew’s job. But if they finished their work first, we couldn’t use a lift.
Everyone was just trying to do their job, and we eventually got the scheduling conflict worked out and the equipment and stage set up. But you can see how having two (or more) specialists on a project risks introducing inefficiencies, potentially resulting in the loss of both time and money.
Instead, a full-service AVL partner with audio, video, and lighting specialists usually provides a much smoother experience from load-in to load-out.
Benefit 3: Shared Equipment
Often, there’s a lot of crossover in certain AVL equipment. If three companies work an event, then they each have to bring what they need. But a full-service provider can share equipment across departments.
For example, if we bring a power distro to an event, we may service all three of our departments off that one power distro instead of having three companies provide (and bill for) three distros.
Or we can share long cable runs to reduce the number of cables needed across a space. This cleans up the look and decreases the risk of anything going wrong with multiple connections.
In today’s market, saving truck space is another benefit of sharing equipment. Instead of having three partially full trucks, a full-service provider can reduce costs by using just one truck full of the shared equipment.
Another benefit of sharing comes because hotels charge you by the amperage or the connection points. So when you can share your power across all departments, clients see an immediate cost savings.
Benefit 4: Single Point of Contact
If clients discover an issue or have a change for their event, it can be frustrating for them to have to track down the audio specialist, then the video specialist, etc., to communicate it. With a full-service provider, the client has one point of contact who can communicate all issues to the team, greatly simplifying the process and reducing frustrations.
When Do Single-Service Providers Make Sense?
Sometimes a single-service provider can be a good choice, and there are plenty of high-quality companies available. In fact, CTS used to be one of them. We were known as audio specialists, but when clients began requesting that we handle more visual and lighting aspects as well, we eventually developed three fully functional specialist departments.
Below are several perfectly legitimate reasons a client may want to use a single-service provider:
- They have a great relationship with a preferred vendor they want to keep using.
- They have an internal team that handles one aspect well but can’t handle a whole event. (A church with a fantastic audio team that needs help on video for a huge event is a good example.)
- They want a specific piece of equipment only a single-service company can offer.
Other times, though, a client might think that hiring separate single-service providers is cheaper than hiring a full-service AVL company. And that’s not always the case.
Often, using a full-service provider will actually cost less than hiring multiple companies. But even in cases where they don’t, hiring separate companies still means you miss out on the simplification, efficiency, and collaboration a full-service company brings.
In other cases, a client might think their show is just too big for one team. While we work well with lots of other AVL companies and are happy to when requested, this isn’t typically an obstacle for us. We’ve never taken on an event that was too big. We know our limits and won’t commit to a project we can’t handle.
Full Service Is the Future
A series of single-service providers can’t provide the teamwork and efficiency of a full-service AVL provider. Having fewer cooks in the kitchen streamlines productions and creates clarity instead of confusion. We recommend putting your trust in a full-service company with AVL specialists who will simplify your next production.