War stories. Some experiences as an installer.

I am finishing up the soundcheck book. Hope to release it in a few weeks. Wanted to throw a few things out there, from the book. Calling these war stories. Probably going to have a lot more of these posted over time.


Do your homework on every piece of gear you buy. If you want to blow your cash on stuff you don’t really need, go to my website first.
It’s different when you are buying gear for your business or church. If you are in the position to spend church members money on equipment, do your research. Take that responsibility serious. Don’t guess that the thousand dollar purchase you want to make will solve anything. Don’t waste their money.
If it’s for a club, school or business, you are still just wasting their money. Do your job. Take care of the business.

Yeah. I have stories.

A pastor called me in desperation a few years back. He had a small building and a dead system. He had gotten a quote for $10,000 to fix his system. They told him it was beyond repair. He had to replace almost everything.
When I got there, I almost believed it. The system looked bad, the wiring was trashed, nothing worked right. He was almost in tears as I looked over the system. I told him to give me some time to figure out want worked and what didn’t.
Two hours later, he came back to check on me. Everything was working. Again, he got emotional.
The system was fine. It was wired wrong. It was setup wrong. The only thing I found that needed to be replaced was a crossover. One channel was fried. I set the system up in mono, through the good side and rewired the rest of it. Maybe 4-5 cable repairs and everything worked.
Instead of $10,000 to fix it, he ended up paying about $400. I was his hero.

I found another pastor wandering through the store once, with a $200 compressor. When I asked about helping him, he said he was ok. We ended up talking for a few minutes. I got him to tell me about the compressor and why he needed it. His sound guy said he needed it to solve a problem in the system. After hearing his description, I told him the compressor was not going to fix it.
At the time, he could have hired us for a two hour service call for less than that. We would have diagnosed the real problems and made a lot of repairs in two hours. Money well spent, in my mind.
He wouldn’t consider it. Even after I explained that he was about to waste $200 on something that was not going to solve his problem. Either he was just that stubborn, trusted his ignorant tech or had been burned too many times by music store salesmen. No idea. But, he wouldn’t even consider allowing us to fix his system. Oh well.

I was called out to quote a system for a new church building. Big room, small budget. Normal.
Without charging them, I spent a day or so working up a package. We worked out a fair price, they said it was perfect. They just needed to get the deposit check to me. Told me I would have it by the end of the week.
Never heard back. Again, normal.
Maybe a year later, they called me for a service call. Their system had problems. What I saw really irritated me. They had taken my package and ordered it all online. They did not get better prices. They only avoided the installation labor. Figured they could do it.
Speakers were hung wrong. Amps were wired wrong. The mixer was setup wrong. They got the cheapest wireless mics available. They wired it with the cheapest cables available. They didn’t get the racks and set everything up on a plastic table. It was a nightmare.

Now. I understand budget. I was the king of getting everyone the most bang for their buck. I had hundreds of opportunities to take advantage of churches, but I didn’t. I did all i could do to make every deal fair for everyone.
Normally, I would have worked out an agreement to fix all their crap. Even though the labor cost to fix it would be twice what it would have been, I didn’t do it. They had proven to be unethical and I didn’t want any part of it. I told them that.
I am not bashing churches. I have spent about 7 years of my life on church staff. I know how many people get involved in every decision. I know how decisions are made in most churches. That’s not the issue. The issue is that this pastor and staff told me one thing and did another. Without calling me to ask for a better price or advice. Without even apologizing for taking my design. Without giving me the opportunity to be repaid for the day of my life I spent creating that system.
They blew it. There were only a few guys in that area who worked on sound systems at the time. One was a really nice guy who was a salesman, not a tech. The other was a great guy who designed and built speakers, but wasn’t a tech. I was their best option and they intentionally shot me down. Yes. I took that one personally.
So, I told them I wasn’t interested. I just walked out. I might have been wrong, but those guys were people I didn’t want to work for.

Why did I add that story? Because you might be the one making decisions for your church. That guy who obviously wants to make sure you get exactly what you need and give the extra effort is still a person. Churches exist for people, right?
You don’t know where they are in life. They might end up being your next superstar member. They might be the one who takes your church to the next level. Or. They might be the one who goes out of their way to tell everyone how unethical you are.
Do the right thing. Don’t promise anything you aren’t willing to do.

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