Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Friday, January 25, 2008

Home Again, Again

Spent the last three days in Raleigh on business, and now I'm finally home. Nothing terribly interesting to write about from the trip, just another business trip. Wednesday was the rescheduled prebid meeting that was supposed to be held last week and resulted in a wasted trip for me and a wasted night in a hotel. The meeting went well, we got a lot of questions and conflicts in the construction docs resolved, so everybody's bidding on a level playing field, so the process will be fair. We're at a disadvantage going after this job, since there's a certain amount of on-site hand-holding that needs to happen with the electrical contractor, and we're the furthest bidder from the job site by a couple of hours, but we'll take our best shot at it regardless.

I'm not a huge fan of bidding work, as a rule. In a bid job, typically the cheapest price gets the order rather than the people best suited to perform the work, and for something as complex as a theatrical lighting system, I think it's better to make a purchasing decision based on the expertise of the vendor rather than solely on price. Certainly there are things that I sell that can be purchased without my expertise to back it up, and on those items I don't mind competing on price, but when a system has some teeth to it, I typically prefer to get a direct path to the customer and sell the job based on our merits as a company rather than just bidding numbers.

It helps that I work for the largest company of its kind in the world, and I've been doing this for a long time. I probably have an experience and resource advantage over almost all my competitors in the Carolinas, so of course I want to be able to sell the job based on merit rather than just on price. It's just like picking a game because you think you're a better player than most of the rest of the table, I feel like I have an edge when I get to use my design skills, so I'm going to gravitate to that work. That means I chase fewer of the very large projects, or put out a perfunctory price on those jobs, because if I get the order on a big general construction project, that's great, but I tend to focus more on projects where we can work directly with the end user to design the system and make it fit the needs of the job rather than just throwing numbers at someone else's construction docs. This is one of the times that I have to go in without an edge, so we'll see how it all works out.

Thursday and Friday were spent in training classes on two new types of lighting control consoles. We flew in a factory guy to train on these consoles because we've never sold any of them before, so I sat in on the trainings to get a handle on the boards. A lighting console can be as simple as faders that correspond to each light, and are pretty simple to program, or as complex as a heavy-duty computer that can control hundreds of lights and effects. These consoles were of the more complex variety, and it's several months before we'll have a chance to send folks up to the factory for training, so I wanted to attend these training sessions so that I'd be able to train folks on the consoles when we next sell them. So I got a pretty good handle on the console we trained on today, so I feel like I'll be able to train on the next one we sell.

Yeah, I know it's supposed to be a poker blog, but no poker til tomorrow night, when the donkey mixed game descends on the Casa de Falstaff. I'll be back with a report later.

3 comments:

Bloody P said...

Feel ya about bid work. We do design/build AV stuff, and I generally run away when the prospective customer says "bid".

It usually means design/bid/build.

Waste of time.

shamanalix said...

Welcome back; glad you got some heavy important work contributed! If you have a sec and feel like a tad more, oh wise one, drop by my blog and opine in Thursday's post as to why a university has a mandatory figure drawing class for all its theatre majors. I have a side bet, you see; and I certainly wish more institutes of higher learning (and computer/graphic design companies) were that way -- an artiste needs all the work he can get! Shuffle on, sirrah; when's Summer Vegas BlogCon?

$mokkee said...

if your bid comes in under or at budget, you should have a fighting chance unless their finance guy is sitting in on your meetings.