Is it Time for a Gear Upgrade? Part 2: How to Pitch New Gear.

How to Pitch New Gear

    As a follow up to last week’s article, I wanted to take a second and talk about how to ask for that gear upgrade AKA, how to pitch new gear. While it may seem pretty straight forward, “Hey pastor, we need X-ammount of dollars for this new gear, cool?” Sometimes…thats not cool. There is an art form to proposing upgrades. Learning to submit the requests correctly, with the right information and at the right time could be crucial to whether you actually get the gear or not. Here are a few tips that I have found work very well in my experience.

1. Make sure you are ready

If you’re not sure if you’re ready for new gear go ahead and take a look at last weeks post. But, if you’re ready and know it, clap your hands…just kidding, read on. In Luke 16:10 Jesus introduces the principle that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much”, I guarantee you that this idea is very present in your leader’s minds when considering who to give money too and who has shown to be faithful with it.  Make sure that you have taken good care of the gear you have, and that you have squeezed every bit of value out of it. I am sure the leadership will not hesitate to send money your way if they know this is the way you operate

2. Overestimate the cost

    It never fails, it doesn’t matter if you’re buying new gear, renting a car, checking out at waves.com, or just getting a few things from the store…stuff always costs more than you think it will. It looks really bad if you’re pitching your needs to your leadership, and later on, you have to go back and ask for more because you miscalculated. I see it far too often where the person in charge of the upgrades has to keep going back and getting costs approved because the number just keeps getting bigger. Even if the cost is going up because of completely legitimate reasons beyond your control, from the perspective of those forking out the money, it comes across as poor planning and lack of knowledge. Make sure that you think about the cabling needed to connect the gear to the system. How much is shipping? Are you going to want/need a warranty on it? (Hint: warranties can really be life saver and make you look like the hero when the fix is free!) Make sure you are always leaving a margin for things like this. After all its better to ask for more upfront and end up not needing it all then to be the guy/girl that has to keep going back asking for more and more money. Don't be that guy!

3. Submit it as a solution to a problem

    One mistake that us sound guys often make is thinking that the leaders above us who are not particularly technical, see the same value as we do when it comes to gear. We love to get new gear for fun and we know why one piece of gear is better than another. Afterall, thats why we have the role we do. However, most of the time the pastor isn't going to understand why you should spend $200 on that multi band compressor plug-in that just makes the vocals sound nice and creamy. Now, its not that you’re wrong…muti-band compressors are the best thing since single band compressors….however to the non technical people, as long as they can hear the vocals…it’s probably not on their mind at all, its plenty good enough. Why spend $200 to fix something thats not broken?

    What helps in situations like these is to propose the gear as a solution to a problem that even the non-technical people recognize. Something like, “ You know how we have a really hard time hearing the worship leader when the whole band is playing? This plug-in would completely fix that.” Or “This will make it easier to hear the vocals without having to turn them up so loud.” You are guaranteed to win some votes with that one! As long as you can provide the new gear as a solution to a problem (one that both you and leadership agree is a problem) you will be off to a very good start.

4. Connect it to the vision of the church

    This may seem like common sense to some but I can't talk about requesting new gear without mentioning this. Ultimately what you are doing is asking for an investment in your production team. Leaders want to know that they are going to get a good return on their investment if they choose to use the church’s funds for your team. In order for them to do this, they need to be able to see how it benefits not only your interests as a tech team, but also the overall vision of the church. For example, lets say your church has a huge reach locally in the community and does lots of community outreach and events. However it doesn’t carry a very large online presence. Getting a broadcast console approved for live streaming and a new computer to multitrack everything is going to be a much harder sell than say, a brand new portable PA and console packed into shiny new road cases that you can use for all the community events (With your logo on the cases for extra advertising!). Just an idea. The point here is to make sure to take some time and think through how the upgrade you are requesting fits into the overall vision of the church. Be ready to explain that when you request the money because that will definitely be on their minds.

Side note: This doesn't just apply to new gear purchases, even just for microphone upgrades it could be as simple as pointing out that “at least 40%-50% of the duration of the service is spent in worship. We want to make sure that we give our members the most pleasant listening experience when they choose to spend a Sunday morning with us. Upgrading our drum microphones would put us in a much better place as a production team to make Sunday mornings that much more pleasant for our congregation.” 

Okay…That one’s for free! ;-)

5. Show the research

Lastly, when you do present your proposal, I highly recommend that whether they ask for it or not, you are prepared to show a little bit of research. Give them the reasons that lead you to your specific solution. Maybe come prepared with two solutions to the problem (Hint: always show the more expensive option first, you have a much better chance of actually getting the cheaper option in that scenario!). Do your homework and if you find out that buying those specific microphones off amazon is cheaper then buying them from Guitar Center (true story), then let them know! Tell them that you were originally quoted $500 from Guitar Center but after a little homework you found out that you could get them from Amazon, delivered straight to the church for $450. Even if the savings aren't massive, they will certainly applaud the effort and take comfort in knowing that you did the research and are making an educated suggestion.

Good luck friends! As always If you have any questions (or would like some recommendations on new gear!) don't hesitate to shoot us an email at worshipsoundguy@worshipsoundguy.com 

- WSG