Book Review: ‘Hitting for the Cycle’ Is CI Business ‘Bible’

Calling something a “bible” is not a term that is thrown around loosely, but the new book “Hitting for the Cycle” from industry veterans Paul Starkey and Steve Firszt qualifies as a “bible” for the custom electronics industry. Compiled from deep interactions as consultants via VITAL with more than 400 custom installation companies, Starkey and Firszt have written THE definitive business playbook for the integrators looking to establish or improve their businesses.

The authors, who combined have well over half a century in experience in the industry, have laid out in an organized fashion the steps that dealers need to take to become more efficient and profitable. Firszt was the proprietor of Fast Forward Consulting for many years before joining forces with Starkey, who guided Elan for years to become a force in the industry. The duo jointly guided a group of integrators via their consulting firm VITAL that would later form Bravas, a national custom installation company comprised of more than a dozen successful integration companies.

The book “Hitting for the Cycle” itself is not only a labor of love for Starkey and Firszt, but also has a philanthropic mission with proceeds helping survivors or sex trafficking to rebuild their lives.

The book, which is just 40 pages and a quick read loaded with action-oriented, one-line statements and various exercises for integrators to complete that will enable them to create a solid operational plan for their company.

“One huge takeaway is that most companies could use some level of coaching assistance to achieve their maximum potential and implement more of the sage instructions,” says Starkey, addressing the fact that many integrators are entrepreneurs who built their companies from the ground up without assistance. Often, it is exactly those types of individuals who don’t seek outside help to guide them.

The advice in “Hitting for the Cycle” is not pulled out of thin air… it is based on actual experiences among other integration companies that have established best practices to operate most efficiently.

“The fact that so many companies have implemented the actions with success is very encouraging for all,” adds Starkey.

Among other things, the book covers best practices in:

Finding ClientsCollecting MoneyProduct Procurement/SelectionHiring/StaffingCustomer SatisfactionServiceAccountingPlanning

As an example of how in-depth the book gets, the section on Finding Clients digs into the creation of a standardized Intake Form for noting clients’ needs, how to establish a good/better/best sales technique, calculating the number of proposals necessary to close the proper amount of business to build and maintain a pipeline of both near-term and long-term projects, and more. And this is just one short chapter!

Other industry leaders have chimed in on the book.

“Don’t wait – read this book now. Every page is densely loaded with priceless information, that if followed will change your business,” says Ron Callis, CEO at One Firefly.

“After 30 years as a retailer, integrator, and manufacturer I have never seen a better guide to the business,” notes Jeremy Burkhardt, founder of Origin Acoustics. “It’s simple, straightforward, filled with best practices and a field manual that everyone in the AV business should adopt.”

The book comes at hefty price: $999. But Starkey notes that integrators will get a strong multiple in terms of payback on the investment many times over.

“We are hoping more companies than not have solid four-hit, cycle games,’ he notes, carrying the baseball analogy through. “The book is chock full of people, process and practices that go beyond common sense and capture the essence of the CI business model. It might be the first book to decode a business model that has been interpreted in hundreds of ways in the past.”

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