Technology serves an important role in just about every church, especially when it comes to audio, video, and lighting (AVL) systems. The increasing complexity of these systems requires special expertise in installation, programming, and service that is best provided by a quality church AV contractor.
Some churches might consider “contractor” to be a bad word, but that shouldn’t be the case. The right technology provider can be a valuable ministry partner.
Planning board members are rightfully focused on getting the best deal on church technology, but it is equally important to select the right people to provide and service that technology.
Ask any potential church AV contractor these questions to make an informed decision:
#1 – How will your solution help us improve our audio/video/lighting?
This question might seem obvious or even redundant. After all, you’ve requested assistance with installing, fixing, or improving something. The important thing with this question is to have the contractor provide a direct response that shows they correctly interpreted what you are asking for.
The contractor should acknowledge your specific goals and needs. They should take the time to get to know your church and how the technology will be used to fulfill your mission. Their answer to this question should tell you if they really understand the specifics of your request, or are simply proposing a generic solution.
#2 – What type of training do you offer and how many sessions can we expect?
Every church technology installation should include adequate training for the staff or volunteers who will be operating the equipment. Some contractors may offer a combination of on-site and classroom training, depending on the system. Or they may offer advanced training from a manufacturer’s representative.
The important thing is that the complexity of the system is considered and reflected in the total training time provided. Complex systems may even require multiple training sessions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for additional training sessions to be included in the contract. And clarify how the contractor expects to handle follow-up training or service requests after the installation is complete.
#3 – How long should we expect the new equipment or system to serve us?
Some technology upgrades are long-term and will last for years or even decades. Other options may be temporary fixes until a more permanent solution or larger budget is available.
It is important to ask a contractor about the longevity and viability of system components. You want a solution that can serve you now and in the future. The contractor’s response to this question should help you set expectations for future planning and upgrades that may be required.
#4 – Are there any ongoing software subscriptions or service maintenance costs we need to prepare for?
The more advanced a system is, the more likely it is to rely on special software or service agreements to keep it updated and running smoothly. Some of these monthly or annual contracts can be expensive and should be factored into the operating budget after the components have been installed.
Make sure the contractor details all system components that will require ongoing software, service, or programming support. The expected costs for these services should also be included. It is common for a contractor or manufacturer to provide one year of free service with the installation. Ask about any discounts that might be available for purchasing a service agreement package upfront.
#5 – What sets you apart from other church AV contractors?
An experienced church AV contractor should be able to tell you exactly why they are best suited for your needs. It should be clear what sets them apart from other contractors you may have access to.
Maybe the contractor offers more training or has access to more brands. Or maybe they specialize in providing service to churches that are similar in size. And maybe they have a national presence, but work closely with local technicians and experts to service your project. Whatever the answer, it should give you peace of mind that the contractor has your best interests in mind. They should not simply be filling the books with another project.
#6 – Can you provide a few references for churches you’ve worked with that are similar to our church?
Never be afraid to ask a contractor for referrals to previous clients and projects. A reputable contractor will be happy to introduce you to other clients that have had great experiences with their company and work.
Just pay close attention to the type of referral contacts you receive. They should be similar in size and scope to your church and system needs. A good contractor will understand the value of offering you the opportunity to compare your expectations with similar solutions they’ve provided for other clients like you.
Use these tips to help your church identify and engage with the right technical ministry partners. Whether it’s a new church sound system, upgraded projection, or enhanced lighting, the right expertise can save you time and money in the long run.