Our guest blogger – The Masked installer – returns again. This time he shares his straight talking opinion from inside the Integrator industry on the ever popular Sonos multi-room music system.
Here’s a secret. It’s probably not too secret but we don’t talk about it too much. Custom Installers make next to nothing selling Sonos. Sonos are sold to the trade in the UK by an IT distributor and the margins most of us make are akin to the margins we might make on selling mice and keyboards. Now if you sell your soul to Sonos; shift all your volume into moving their product for them, do additional marketing for them and do ridiculous levels of turnover you might make half the percentage margin you might make on a nice set of ceiling speakers or an AMX processor. If you’ve done that you’ve probaably had to do a few of the following things.
- You’ve sold units that can be used with the most basic DIY home network kit and that kit will certainly break
- You’ve used Sonos in place of a product with a proper Custom Install support infrastructrure
- You’ve almost certainly had to deal with audio and video distribution separately because Sonos is such a resolutely audio only solution
- You’ve probably got some happy customers because Sonos is really nice to use and getting better all the time. I count myself among them as I’ve got a 5 zone system running at home.
There then is the dilemma. The product is great but selling it isn’t. Consider the Sonos S5 – the ultimate anti Custom Install product. Let’s assume you are a middling Sonos dealer who jumps through most of the hoops that have put in front of you. The S5 comes in pretty packaging that emphasises the fact that it can be controlled by a free app running on an iPod touch. It doesn’t need speakers – one of the engines of revenue and margin for AV dealers. Like other Sonos products it’s somewhat of an awkward child in being integrated into wider home control systems (with the honourable exception of Control4) so it’s not a great introduction to the wider world of integration and like all other Sonos products, it’s sold to the general public by Sonos in direct competition with their dealer base. So it’s not our favourite.
If we want to maintain our approved dealer status with Sonos we need to carry both the Black one and the White one as demo items. Apparently this means we can give the full Sonos experience to the prospective punters who come in. Presumably this will help them when they go and place orders on sonos.com when they get home…
The readership on this site is pretty clued up and I’m not expecting any sympathy. However, it might be interesting background for you if you ever go to a Custom Installer to talk about a Sonos job. If they start looking at their watch or over your shoulder or just start looking bored, remind yourself of this; a typical installer will make more cash margin selling ONE Kaleidescape Mini system than he will selling 20 Sonos Bundles and he’ll do so with much less risk.
Now as the editor of this site has pointed out to me, this article leaves a question hanging in the air…”Masked Installer, why do you bother selling Sonos at all?” The answer is simple. I don’t think I can’t. Sonos is too good to ignore. It’s slick, it works, it offers great on-line services and an interface that everyone gets. I’ve done three cinema jobs for someone who first came to us to talk about Sonos, I’ve sold £20K of speakers on the back of one Sonos job, I like the damn thing. I’ve probably just got the hump because I’ve got to buy yet more pointless demo kit to protect the already feeble % margin I make selling it.