By Leslie T. Snadowsky
Sandy Benson, the owner/operator of Custom Audio Video in Bluffton, leads the region in innovative solutions to residential and commercial audio, video, and integration needs by providing premier custom designs and smart home technologies. But recent networking opportunities have proved quite illuminating.
“We’re currently working with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation in its growth program, and we’re stepping into the lighting design arena,” Benson said. “Our business started with speakers and TVs and little knobs on the walls, but we have evolved into an integration company. Everything is streamed and network-based, and now you can literally run your house from your phone. There are no more clunky remotes. We help make technology simpler and more accessible, attractive, and aesthetically pleasing for our clients, and lighting design is essential to home decor. We design lighting systems that can be controlled by these same systems that operate your audio, your video, your pool and your HVAC. It’s an incredible industry.”
Networking has ignited Benson’s 27-year-old business in Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort and Savannah. She said meeting with clients in their homes or for lunch, sponsoring community charity events for nonprofit organizations that she supports, producing newsletters and using social media all help potential clients see the light. And like a moth to a flame, a recent beacon is shining a spotlight on her services,
Benson said her 6,000-square-foot showroom in Sheridan Park, Bluffton, is being remodeled to showcase Custom Audio Video’s innovative solutions. It’s where her team of experienced audio-video designers, networking wizards and programming gurus invite architects, builders and interior designers for education sessions and in-house training to learn about which products and systems they could suggest to their clients.
“Bringing in leaders from those sectors, networking with the people who are touching the clients way before we touch them, is important to our business,” Benson said. “The goal is to get the clients to know about us in the design phase of their projects, whether it be a remodel or new construction. Our showrooms also are places where clients can see our top-of-the-line products and how things operate and how they look. We give them a tour of the latest and greatest of what’s out there and invite them into our space so they can learn what they can do in theirs.”
Benson’s spaces feature indoor and outdoor sound systems and lighting designs, home theaters with seating, projector screens and acoustic panels, music-listening rooms with hidden speakers and the latest in networking solutions, shading and security systems.
“At our showroom we’re creating a kind of idea factory where we become more strategic with the client,” Benson said. “It’s where they can learn about our audio-video integration and lighting design company, and we can learn what they want to create and how we can meet or exceed their goals and expectations.”
1. Give back to the community. “Being active in the community, giving back to the community, understanding and being committed to the community is so important in growing your business,” Benson said. “Becoming a sponsor for nonprofits and charity events is our way to give back to those who support us and those who are in need.”
2. Stay engaged with partners. “Our partners are the architects, the builders, the interior designers and the subcontractors in the construction industry,” Benson said. “Staying engaged with them is really important. And staying engaged with our clients through unrivaled customer service is the most important thing that we do. And not only our clients, but clients from other vendors that aren’t able to get the help they need. We have marketed ourselves very well in that area to be able to help people who just can’t seem to get somebody from another company to call them back.”
3. Set up an idea factory. “We provide education that allows people to understand what we can do as their audio-video integration and lighting design company,” Benson said. “It’s how we network and become relevant in our market.”