Redefining the Rep Model

June 20, 2023

Historically, The Farm is a manufacturers’ rep firm. Like many companies in our industry, COVID changed the fabric of our organization. However, even pre-pandemic, we knew we had to add value beyond the traditional rep model of sales force outsourcing.

In 2019, we brought on a CFO and VP of Technical Services, former partners at an integration firm based out of the Bay Area, to kick-start the transition of adding technical services to the manufacturers we represented. Since then, we’ve shuffled our line card a bit, added a few people, expanded geographically, and built an entire technical services division called FarmAssist.

We kind of stumbled into this uncharted territory. Over the course of a year or two, we became a service provider. What does that mean? It means we work directly with integrators to supplement their teams with capabilities ranging from sales (traditional rep services) to engineering, programming, commissioning, training, and Day-2 support (not so traditional).

In my experience, the term “rep firm” in the AV industry seems to have a confusing and somewhat negative perception. Is The Farm a rep firm? Are we a services organization? I wrote up a few observations and figured I’d let you decide “what” The Farm is.

We Know Our Territory
We’re not just familiar with the lay of the land, we know the ins and outs of the local industry. We know who’s who and what’s what. We know who’s in charge, who’s moving up and who’s moving on. We are well-versed in the culture and the underwritten rules of the game (probably because we’ve gone to each other’s kids’ graduations).

We Won’t Let You Fail (Or Try Our Darndest)
We’re out in the field day in and day out, working closely with integrators to develop conceptual designs and provide comprehensive advice, procurement, programming, commissioning, and ongoing support for their customers. We have an intimate understanding of where our products and systems are being deployed, how they’re being used, and what features users are looking for. We’re the eyes and ears on the ground, and we’re here to ensure a successful project.

We’re Masters of Our Trade
We are continuously training our team to be masters of their craft. Keeping pace with the latest advancements in AV and IT technology presents its challenges. We persistently invest in their training, allocate time for continuous education, and foster an environment of perpetual learning.

We’re Objective
We are independent, objective and brand-agnostic because we know that our manufacturer contracts may not last forever, but the relationships with our customers will. While our insider status as a manufacturer rep gives us expert product knowledge, integrators know our recommendations are unbiased because we’re 100% focused on meeting our customers’ needs.

We Offer Ongoing Support
We understand the importance of ongoing support, and we’re here to help. We can act as the first point of contact for any issues because we know the products inside and out. We’re already familiar with the projects because we were involved in the initial sale and implementation of them, which means we can provide quick and efficient support for all parties involved.

We Train Your Team
AV technology has become increasingly complex and vital to the day-to-day operations of organizations. To ensure successful project deployment, we offer integrators and their customer’s comprehensive training programs that can be conducted on-site or virtually. Proper training is essential to ensuring that products are installed and used correctly.

We Offer a Diverse Portfolio
We offer a diverse portfolio of products, and we know how they all work (or don’t work) together. We’re strategic in how we determine which manufacturers to represent. We want to provide our customers with the best solutions possible and we can’t do that with products that don’t complement each other.

So, are we a rep firm?
I asked our copywriter friend to come up with a fancy phrase that describes The Farm, and he came up with this:

“The Farm is a manufacturer representative and AV services provider for enterprises and the AV integrators who serve them. Leveraging deep industry experience and broad technical capabilities, we’re both advisers and doers who augment our clients’ teams with services ranging from quoting and procuring, to engineering, programming, commissioning, training, and ongoing support.”

I love it – but it’s waaaaaaay too many words. I simply say, “We’re a rep firm that offers professional services to our integrator partners”.

If you need help with any of the following manufacturers or technology – and I’m talking sales, design, programming, plugin development, commissioning, tech support, or training – please give us a holler. Our team’s always happy to help – and if we can’t we’ll find someone that can.