Putting Television in Your Lobby or Place of Business: What you Need to Know

business tv

Whether your business is hospitality-driven, office-related, or sports-minded, having a television can boost your sales and lead to happier customers.

In today’s ‘want it now, want it fast’ world, customer expectations are at an all-time high. Customers seem to want to stay connected to what’s happening and have access to the outside world all the time, no matter where they happen to be. And a few magazines scattered on tables in the lobby are not enough anymore — people want to engage through visual technology.

That’s where business TV comes in.

Today, TVs serve as customer service amenities for customers and clients who have to wait, and marketing aids for visitors to your business. Televisions lend themselves as efficient and inexpensive tools for conveying information to employees. In hospitality-related businesses such as bars and restaurants, TVs can be an important part of your offering mix to draw customers, and keep them staying longer and spending more.

Dollar for dollar, business television is an inexpensive marketing and customer satisfaction technique.

Let’s take a deeper look at key points you need to know about business TV and the role it can play in your business:

What Kinds of Businesses Benefit from Business TV?

There are some obvious choices for business television, and some not so obvious ones:

Bars, Restaurants, Coffee Shops – Bars are a natural for TVs. Sports bars, in particular, need televisions with the most up-to-date sports packages just to compete. But think outside the box. Casual restaurants, coffee shops and sandwich shops can also also benefit from television — think morning news or local programming that draws in regulars.

Offices/Lobbies – Business TV gives visitors the impression that your business is vibrant and connected.

And for companies that use television integrally to serve clients – such as PR firms and advertising agencies — television is an important work tool.

Waiting Rooms – Whether a doctor, lawyer, car repair shop or dentist, use TV as an amenity that keeps clients feeling positive even if they must wait. TV can create a welcoming environment, and reduce anxiety.

Exercise/Fitness Centers – People today love to multi-task. Getting caught up on the news, watching sports or simply enjoying their favorite talk shows while they exercise, can make all the difference to those who don’t like to exercise. It’s an added amenity that can set your facility apart from competitors.

Your cable television service provider may offer packages designed specifically for your type of business or needs. That can make your choices easier.

Hardware: What Size and How Many TVs?

The answer to this question depends on the type of business, the number of people watching, the setting and layout. Here are some thoughts to get you thinking:

Sports bars generally need multiple large screen TVs, at least 50 inches or larger. You should have enough TVs where your patrons can watch several events from several locations.

In a small business lobby or waiting room of a professional, TVs can be the same size as what you’d find at home. For instance, in a doctor’s office with two intimate seating areas, two 32” tabletop sets may be best for patients. In the lobby of your company’s offices, a single 42” wall mounted TV may suffice.

When it comes to fitness centers, even small ones might have at least four wall-mounted TVs, 42 inches or bigger. For large fitness centers, the number of TVs needed could be much higher.

Where Do We Place TVs?

In places with high foot traffic or lots of people, flat screen televisions mounted high up on the wall, — perhaps one in each corner — will typically be the better choice, versus set top models or a TV placed in an entertainment center.

Consider traffic patterns and seating arrangements. Try to make it so that people (including wait staff) walking about do not disrupt others’ line of sight. And try to ensure that every seat in the house has an unimpeded view of at least one TV. In larger or unique environments, speakers and acoustics may be another consideration. Tilting helps reduce glare, and tilt mounts are necessary for higher mounting applications.

Every business owner shudders to think about it, but you need to consider theft and vandalism. Wall mountings that are up high make it harder to reach TVs so they can’t be accidentally broken. Some wall mounts come with the ability to lock the television to the stand with a key, making theft harder.

If your place of business is compact, you may be able to install the television hardware in-house. But for larger installations, bring in a professional audio/video company to lay out where to place television sets, and get the right configurations, including mountings. Professionals also have access to a greater range of hardware than you can buy retail.

Affordability and Tax Considerations

Your cable TV provider can provide service packages with the correct number of TV outlets for your facility, along with suitable packages of local, news, sports and/or entertainment programming. Look for packages specifically set up for businesses similar to yours. By bundling with Internet and related services, you may be able to get additional savings.

Finally, keep in mind that costs associated with business television can usually be deducted or depreciated on your business taxes.

You should always consult with your own tax advisor for specific tax advice, but for general background information we reached out to Barbara Weltman, the author of JK Lasser’s Small Business Taxes. She says that the cost of monthly business television cable service and programming “can be viewed as an ordinary and necessary business expense, which makes it deductible” provided the TV service is used for business purposes.

When it comes to hardware, such as television sets, she notes, “Generally, the cost must be depreciated. However, the cost may qualify for the Sec. 179 deduction (up to $500,000 for 2013 as long as the business is profitable for the year) and/or bonus depreciation (50% of cost in 2013 as long as the equipment is new and not pre-owned).”

As you can see, there are good reasons to use TV in your business. And the cost can be affordable, especially when you factor in the potential for tax deductions and depreciation.

Gym Photo via Shutterstock

Craig Sutton Craig Sutton is the owner of Sutton Brand Management. Using his background in tech, including 5 years managing the servers and networking team for a major regional Internet provider and also owner of an IT and Web software development firm, he harnesses the power of digital and traditional marketing to help small to medium sized businesses excel.