April 30, 2020 by Frank M. Culotta
People celebrating the end of COVID-19 | AVIXA

Looking ahead to New Year’s Eve 2020 … what will it look like?

As I think of what to write about, I, like everyone else I know, am consumed by dealing with the effects of COVID-19 on our business, and our lives. The current situation impacting our industry, and our world, has proven extremely challenging. And without precedent elsewhere in most of our lifetimes, virtually everyone I know is struggling with, or for, a plan for the foreseeable future.

On the business-front alone:

  • Will we get back to quasi-normal in 2020?
  • How will business come back?
  • Will our customers want to invest in technology-based solutions … and have money to invest in them?
  • What will business look like … will “huddle” be a four-letter word?

If we have some certainty in our answers to these questions, what do we do with and for our team, our companies, and be in business and ready for the supposed future?

Add to all this industry macro-economic uncertainty, that huge companies (like Cisco) are generously and wisely offering deferred payments until 2021. It creates new business dynamics and challenges on many playing fields, including ours in commercial AV.

The challenges are many and great, and we in the independent rep segment of the commercial AV market share almost all the same pressures and challenges that AVIXA’s other constituents are experiencing. Do we hold stock/inventory and associated costs, no, but our overhead is fixed and our revenue is based on the movement of products and services in our industry, and as 99% of our consultant, integrator, and enterprise customers are reporting significant-to-severe disruption in operations and project advancement, so goes the foundation of the independent reps’ business model.

Similarly, 99% of the Independent Rep firms around the country that I’ve spoken with are feeling a very significant effect from the virus and resulting shutdowns in most regions.

The crux of a turnaround seems to be treatment and a vaccine, and on this I know only as much as everyone else watching the nightly news.

As I struggle to find some positive (or at least valuable) industry-related insights to share, three things come to mind and have been substantiated repeatedly throughout:

  1. By many and most local reports (in the Northeast U.S.), our industry continues to be quite busy “planning” for when things get back to some sort of normal and many projects come back online. This planning (mostly design and quoting) is for all types of projects in all market segments: corporate, education, government, etc., healthcare, having not skipped a beat, seems to be moving faster than ever.
  2. Like the unaffected strength of the healthcare market, the education market (both K-12 and higher ed) is showing signs of having a close-to-normal summer install season with some projects even getting moved up as schools remain closed through the spring semester.
  3. Industry and technology training, education, and certifications in most segments of our industry are at an all-time high. As we do emerge, we likely emerge better and stronger (capability-wise) than ever before.

That’s it. These are the positive signs I can point to for now. If in fact the medical professionals, and our world overall, can succeed in the containing and controlling of the virus and getting our world back to work and back to normal, then I do think our industry is ready and able to start our comeback as well.

All of this to say that our industry’s independent reps are in this with you and are here to help, as we emerge from all of this.

Keep safe, keep positive, and keep on keepin’ on …

Focus on the fact that New Year’s Eve 2020 is less than eight months from now … and we will (hopefully) be looking back at this challenging, scary, and simply crazy year, relieved, and looking forward to a more normal year in 2021. We will survive … and eventually thrive, again.

 

About Frank M. Culotta

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