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SoundVision: Man on a Mission

SoundVision credits its Values, Vision and Mission statements as motivating factors in maintaining a 60/40 equipment-to-labor profitability ratio.


Scott Sullivan, president of Novato, Calif.-based SoundVision, engages every one of his 20 employees under a mission of super efficiency. The company is focused on maintaining a high number of billable hours.
Jason Knott · November 13, 2008

If words had no meaning, people would never have been inspired by the eloquence of the Gettysburg Address or the Declaration of Independence.

Likewise, SoundVision in Novato, Calif., doesn’t just see its company “Values,” “Vision” and “Mission” declarations as words on pieces of paper.

Indeed, every employee is required to memorize the company Mission Statement, understand the meaning behind every word and use it as the guiding force for every decision they make on the job.

In fact, all 20 employees have the 54 words posted in their offices or cubicles and they all have to sign a commitment to abide by its principles—or they cannot earn a bonus.

It’s a bold statement about the passion president Scott Sullivan brings to the company on a daily basis, a passion that seems to permeate the entire company.

Unlike some custom installation firms, SoundVision has set-in-stone parameters for the profitability of every job. If the job cannot meet those parameters, the company rejects it.

Quick Stats
  • Company:  SoundVision
  • Location: Novato, Calif.
  • Web site: www.svsf.com
  • Principal: Scott Sullivan
  • Years in Business: 10
  • Revenues (for 2007): $4,389,658
  • Number of Employees: 21
  • Specialties: Integrated systems in existing homes and new high-end custom homes.
  • Top Brands: Crestron, Lutron, On-Q/Legrand, Denon, SpeakerCraft, Runco
  • FYI: “Always be profitable. Never throw a bunch of money at something and try to make it up on other jobs.”

Meanwhile, the company is a model of efficiency, claiming to bill as much as 80 percent of technicians’ time to clients—a remarkable percentage in this industry.

Finally, in the heart of affluent Marin County near San Francisco, the company is on the cutting edge of green technology, presenting “socially responsible” proposals to every client.

Repeatable Systems Are the Mission

This is SoundVision’s Mission Statement:

Soundvision is a team of well-trained professionals whose purpose is to integrate lifestyle-enhancing technology into discriminating customers’ homes. We focus on aesthetic impact, we design for intuitive operation, and our methods promote trouble-free system performance. Our goal is to provide systems and experiences that exceed expectations and result in strong referrals.

It’s clear that Sullivan is a meticulous planner and inspirational leader. In fact, 10 years ago when he first sat down to form SoundVision, he realized he needed to have a clear purpose that would engage every employee.

His first step was to ask, “What is our vision?”

“I am a believer in setting goals and writing them down and creating a roadmap,” he says. “We created a strategic plan, and every year we create a plan to reach those goals. Our Mission Statement is what we actually do every day. Every single employee here has our Mission Statement memorized.”

In fact, he adds, “You cannot get a bonus here unless you can recite it in front of everyone.”

And it’s not just a matter of knowing it by rote; each sentence is discussed. “Our Mission Statement is about who we serve. It clearly defines who our client is, how we serve them and what we serve them,” Sullivan says.

“It says that we are not a company that does funky, quirky jobs. So, if any employee is ever unsure about what to do in any given situation, the Mission Statement should answer it. It talks about clean design, trouble free, with minimal impact on the aesthetics of the home. The plan is for it to have a daily impact on decision-making in the company.”

When Sullivan describes “funky, quirky jobs” what he really means is that SoundVision, like a lot of other dealers, has recognized the value of repeatable, sustainable installations.

According to Gene Quisisem, principal designer, completely custom systems are, in essence, “prototypes” that can be expensive to design and maintain—and can potentially be unreliable.

“We choose not to design and install prototypes. Our systems are repeatable,” he says. “To do that, we stick with a small corps of manufacturers and products that work really well together. Then, we sell it over and over again.


  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jknott@ehpub.com

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