About Chris Birks, Managing Director
After working in the CAD CAM and IT Industries post-graduation our MD Chris Birks set up Proactive AV in 2004 as he’d stumbled upon an opportunity to do something a little bit different in the AV Industry.
It was apparent back then, as it is now, that the vast amount of AV resellers offer solutions but actually just sell hardware in boxes shipped to the schools by a courier and then hire in subcontractors to install these goods. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re supplying a dishwasher or a piece of gym equipment to a school, it invariably led to teachers using complex interactive devices just as display boards for whatever happened to be on their PC’s or laptops. Little time or thought went into specific installation requirements and most training on such devices came from online self-help files or videos.
Chris decided that Proactive AV would be entirely responsible for both goods and service when school leaders made the decision to partner with them.
The products would be supplied from the Proactive warehouse on Proactive vans by Proactive engineers on the day of the installation. All the engineers (most still with Proactive to this day) would then install as per the site survey previously undertaken. Everything would be tested prior to sign off and there was only ever to be a Proactive number to call if anything wasn’t as expected.
Post installation Proactive trainers (a free service to education clients) would be scheduled in by the Proactive support department. They would be the only point of contact for the duration of the warranty (and often beyond) should help be needed or further training required.
This focused approach on attention to detail and the desire to have the user base getting real value from what Proactive has provided is and will always be Chris’s number one priority. Of course, this level of service came at a cost initially, in terms of profitability or having to charge slightly more than other resellers. However, as time has moved on manufacturers of classroom technology have offered huge support to the Proactive philosophy enabling them to provide unparalleled service at the most competitive price when supplying their products and thus ultimately improving their brand image.
Chris is most proud of the huge repeat business from Proactive customers. Over 93% have returned to use Proactive for additional AV works since becoming partners. That coupled with literally hundreds of references and testimonials means the promise to deliver ‘Audio Visual Excellence’ can be demonstrated and most importantly proven.
Inevitably after running an education business for 15 years Chris has spent many hours talking to Teachers, Business Managers and Head Teachers and understands the huge pressures of time, finance and performance put upon them as individuals. What Chris insists Proactive do as a business and a trusted partner is qualify by listening, share by experience and set realistic and achievable goals and objectives when discussing technology for schools. Agreeing achievable outcomes for Teachers, students and the school is what needs to happen before the partnership is formed and those spending their hard to find budget should never be left disappointed or unsupported.
Nobody is going to send Chris a glowing reference about the ‘end to end’ service they’ve received from Proactive if collectively agreed objectives and outcomes aren’t met; and just like Chris, we love a glowing reference here at Proactive!