Starting an Installation Job?
if you are new in business, please read on ....
Try to settle a meeting with the people in charge. Don't stay anonymous. Make yourself known.
Get all involved people's correct names from the beginning. Don't hesitate to ask a second time. Asking much later can be embarrassing. Keep a list with all names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
If you don't know who really calls the shots, try to bring all these people together. Arrange a gathering to settle installation issues. This will reveal certain discrepancies. Push all concerning issues to an immediate agreement within these people. Only they know what they really want.
Check out who is in charge of all financial issues. Who will pay your bill?
Always stimulate a straight talk about all concerning issues of the project.
Talk with the people who will work with your design and the equipment you've chosen. Find out what their opinions and wishes are. Value their input as much as possible. Go straight to the point and make sure to not overlook details that later could cause a lot of treble. Clarify all usual unspoken wrong assumptions about the system by the people who will use the system later.
Put every single issue and all your thoughts on paper. Make notes from the very beginning including date and the names of the participants.
Make professional drawings from the beginning and stay with it all the way to the end. Never allow yourself to have your drawings not up to date. Never let time and ‚stress' be an excuse to not maintain your on-site documentation. Getting confused with older versions of your own plans could be a big pain. Don't think you could save money by not buying professional drawing software.
Don't even think about putting notes and drawing sketches on single paper sheets with the intention to organize them later. You will never rescue yourself out of this situation. And it will get tougher with every day. Carry a book for your notes wherever you go concerning the project. Using palmtops or organizers make sure that you save your data every day. A lost or forgotten entry can cost you a fortune.
Don't step into the ‚self-center' trap: you are not installing it for yourself; respect the client's wishes and ideas throughout the project. Make sure all drawings and important details are approved by the client. Avoid surprised and disappointed faces from the beginning.
It's your responsibility to avoid wrong expectations: Provide all necessary information about the standard, the system will be. The ‚best possible quality' has its price. Actually it's even priceless. Make sure the client understands what he/she gets. Make them aware of all budget-based compromises.
Check out what the client / the user really wants to do with the system. Avoid focusing on the wrong details that nobody ever will use. Don't waste your time and your client's money.
Be aware that the installation process will always take longer, cost more and will be more complicated as you thought at the beginning.
Never get involved into the organization's politics, stay straight on your job. Otherwise you will finally always on the loosing side.
From the very beginning work on a ‚Plan B' list. Be prepared on serious budget cuts without jeopardizing your complete design. For every piece of equipment look for a less expensive alternative. But keep these things secret.
Keep track of all the connecting points to the outer world (phone lines, power, etc). Things that are ‚not your business', can pain you harmfully in the final stage of the installation.
Never forget about safety issues:
Is the equipment safe under final operating conditions (wire gauge, fuses, etc) ? Could things get overheated? Could people later dangerously place drinks on the equipment? Avoid design details that invite to hazardous situations. Keep in mind that the client is often not as experienced as you.
Create details that make later thieves a hard time. Plan at least one locked case or drawer for small mobile parts.
Around the installation: Is the equipment well protected? Who is responsible until the client finally takes over the material? Is insurance needed?
Using software driven equipment, check for the included software version with the order. Check the compatibility with other connected equipment.
Finally: the most expensive items are usually the ones that create the least headache. Never forget to keep your attention on the small things like floor boxes and other painful accessories. Being prepared with these things can release you from a lot of pressure in the final installation process.
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