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Home Theater Design and Installation - Home Business Idea

What It Takes to Start a Home Theater Design and Installation Business

By Ron Dicker

(LifeWire) - Overview of this Business

Home theaters used to be the domain of Hollywood bigwigs and the wealthy, but falling prices for flat-screen TVs and other consumer electronics have turned people of even modest means into potential customers for those interested in starting a home theater design and installation business. The median hourly wage of installers is $14.42, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Income can be even higher for an entrepreneur who also designs home theater rooms and buys the audio-visual equipment.

The job of home theater installation typically includes basics such as connecting the DVD player and sound system, mounting the TV screen and concealing the wiring, and adding or enhancing gaming capability. Home theater installers are also expected to give clients a crash course in how everything works and consolidate all functions into one remote. Other assignments can focus on the design details: placement of speakers and furniture, optimizing acoustics and building and installing shelves, lighting and the like.

A solid reputation trumps accreditation in home theater design and installation, but it helps to have experience prior to launching your business, particularly an understanding of electrical wiring.

You can earn a certificate from a trade group such as the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. Electronics giants such as Best Buy have their own installer-designers, and many who enter the business independently are electronics store refugees who already have expertise and relationships with vendors, so working as a home theater installer before you start this business can be very helpful.

Pros of a Home Theater Design and Installation Home Business

  • Startup capital can be as little as a few hundred dollars, although more sophisticated home theater design and installation operations will require additional capital.
  • Home theater design and installation can be a satisfying outlet for those who are enthusiastic about audio and video equipment.
  • On-site home theater work appeals to those who don't want to sit behind a desk all day long.
Cons of a Home Theater Design and Installation Home Business
  • You'll pay transportation fees if you don't have a truck or van, unless you have your customers handle delivery of their own equipment.
  • Attracting home theater design and installation clientele may be difficult at first. You should try to forge relationships for referrals from related businesses, such as small home theater shops who don't offer service or installation, or real estate agents who may have buyers who want to have a home theater system installed or upgraded in their new homes.
  • A one-year service guarantee is sometimes offered for home theater installation, meaning that if customers want to alter the setup or fix a problem, it's your responsibility to get it done.
What You Need to Get Started in a Home Theater Design and Installation Home Business
  • Knowledge of audio and video products such as HDTVs, digital video and gaming devices.
  • A business license in most cases. You should understand your local building codes in the event that rewiring needs to be done you'll want to know which tasks require a licensed electrician.
  • A van or truck if you're transporting the goods from a warehouse to the customer.
  • Basic tools for home theater installation.
  • Knowledge of the costs and services of potential home theater design and installation rivals.
  • Business cards, brochures, print and online advertising and a website to promote your business. A blog can also be helpful as it can establish you as an authority for home theater design and installation.
  • Good networking skills to attract new customers and suppliers.

Home Theater Design and Installation Business: Real-Life Example

Brooks Swift began his Home Connections business out of his home in Topeka, Kan., with just $350, using his customers' deposits to buy the merchandise, according to Entrepreneur.com. A mention in a local newspaper increased business so much that Swift was able to move into the construction market, outfitting homes with theater capability before they were finished. His sales for 2004 were $1 million. He sold the business and formed a bigger operation in Kansas City.

LifeWire, a part of The New York Times Company, provides original and syndicated online lifestyle content. Ron Dicker is a New York-based freelance writer who covered sports for the New York Times from 1996 to 2005.
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