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The gig economy is not a new concept, even as it relates to the slow-to-change AV industry. As technologies associated with the AV industry expand and become more ubiquitous, the demand for fast, affordable, and competent support will continue to increase. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “cheap, fast, good? Pick two, because you can’t get all three.” At best, using typical methods of obtaining AV services will deliver on two of the three; however, in many cases, you’ll be lucky to get one and occasionally none. The good news is, new “gig economy” platforms have emerged, disrupting the market by creating a direct path between those that need support for their AV systems and readily-available experts.

Before we discuss why the gig economy is the best place to look for AV services, we should look at the current methods of obtaining these services. Companies that provide AV services usually do so in two ways. The most common method is to provide on-demand services, where the customer calls the AV company anytime they need help. The other, typically costlier method (as it relates to the customer) is where the customer purchases a pre-paid service contract from an AV company, usually with a guaranteed response time and some sort of insurance on hardware.

Let’s review 3 reasons why the gig economy is the best place to look for AV services by comparing the gig economy with both methods of providing AV support services typically used today.

Gig Economy Services are Cheaper.

On-Demand Comparison

In most markets, you can expect to pay $125 – $225/hour for on-demand AV services (depending on the type of service needed). The largest contributing factor to any labor rate is the overhead related to running a successful AV company. For an AV company to stay in business, they must include all costs associated with the technician providing the service and add some profit. Although many assume the added profit is the reason for high prices, it’s not. The largest portion of any labor rate is the labor burden, which includes both direct and indirect costs required to maintain and employ the labor resource. By leveraging the gig economy, customers should expect to pay labor rates much closer to the market hourly rate for an AV technician. Obviously, the platform will require a fee to operate; however, this fee should be a fraction of what burden and profit would be for the same technician hired through an AV company.

Pre-Paid Service Contract Comparison

Pre-paid service contracts, by their very nature, are meant to serve the bottom line of the company selling them rather than the customer buying them. Companies who offer service contracts spend loads of time training their sales teams on how to pitch their offerings and counter customer objections. In many cases, service contracts have certain clauses and provisions that appear to sweeten the deal; however, the risk to the AV company is minuscule, providing little value to the customer.

Gig Economy Services are Faster.

On-Demand Comparison

Regardless of whether a customer has a service contract in place or not, the expectation is that the AV service provider will be able to respond to any service requests quickly. However, without a service contract, the AV company doesn’t have a funding mechanism to pay someone to sit around and wait for the call. Typically, service technicians are booked weeks in advance and are allocated to the customers who have purchased a service contract. This means that when a call comes in for on-demand service, the AV service provider will scramble to find a body, anybody, to dispatch. In many cases, response times can be measured in days and the technician dispatched will be the one that didn’t have anything to do that day, rather than the most qualified. In contrast, a solid “gig economy” platform will use technology to dispatch the most qualified technician within minutes of the service request.

Pre-Paid Service Contract Comparison

While it might sound like pre-paying for service contracts is a great way to guarantee a fast response time, it doesn’t compare to what a good “gig economy” platform can provide. Typically, a service contract will offer an eight “business hour” response time. This means if you request service at 1pm on Tuesday, the AV service provider is obligated to show up onsite by 12:59pm Wednesday. In reality, this is a 24-hour response time and even more, if the request for service is submitted on a Friday. A good “gig economy” platform provides service within minutes, regardless of the time of day or the day of the week. Additionally, the platform should provide a method to communicate directly with the technician, rather than involving a dispatcher, further expediting the response.

Gig Economy Services are Better.

On-Demand Comparison

One of the most challenging aspects of AV service and support is related to the quality, knowledge, and passion possessed by the technician. As mentioned previously, when a technician is dispatched by an AV company for on-demand services, that technician may not be the most qualified to respond. Online platforms address this issue by providing robust rating and feedback systems that allow the platform’s user-base to weed out the bad apples. Additionally, technicians participating in online platforms are directly responsible for their work and typically maintain a much higher level of ownership. Knowing that their name and reputation is at stake (and future income), they tend to deliver better results.

Pre-Paid Service Contract Comparison

Most pre-paid service contracts include mandatory response times, requiring the AV company to respond to issues and/or return-to-service any impacted systems. In many cases the correct person is not available, causing the AV company to dispatch an available person just to meet the response time. In contrast, a good “gig economy” platform will use technology to sort through the capabilities of each technician and only route service requests to those that meet the criteria required to be successful. Also, the platform should allow the customer to “favorite” technicians they have had a good experience with in the past, further guaranteeing a satisfactory outcome.

Wrapping Things Up.

Those who have struggled with AV service and support in the past will be happy to know there’s an alternative to the old ways of doing things. It’s likely that some, if not all, of the issues and challenges discussed here ring true to the customer that’s tried multiple different AV companies, only to find the results are always the same. So, the next time you need help getting your AV system back up and running, try something new. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.