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Inside Track: Mike Beatty

Managing director of Pulse Cinemas discusses his AV journey and how he coped during lockdown

Where do you hail from originally and where are you based now?

I was born in Harlow in Essex and 50 years later; I’ve moved across the border, into Old Harlow. Not the longest of journeys, but I really like it here. My large family are all based within 15 miles; brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews are all close by. We always joke that I’m related to most people near here and we can’t go out without bumping into someone from the family. I remember when I was interviewing for an accounts person and realised mid-interview with a candidate that we were related.

How did you get started in the industry?

I started out in the industry at the age of 19. I decided I wanted to become a salesman, after a stint in the building world, paint spraying and a year in print. Audiofile was a high end two channel hifi shop and I was a naive young man hoping to make his name in the industry. I spent 5 great years selling Linn HiFi and Naim Audio, which were my preferred brands at the time.

My favourite thing to sell was a speaker called a Linn Keilidh. Literally everyone that came in the store was met with my enthusiasm for this modestly priced, but great sounding speaker. I loved it and remember being incredibly sad to leave; when I was offered the opportunity to move on and become a rep for a drinks company. Ironic, as I had already given up drinking; due to being really bad at it.

Eventually my love of AV brought me back to the industry as a rep for Kef Audio and then, of course, my 5 years working for Gecko selling M&K speakers, amongst many other brands.

What advice can you give someone starting out in AV?

I love to meet people that are dreaming of a life in our industry. I enjoy developing ideas, sharing our stories and inspiring people with my thoughts for their business. I always encourage anyone considering stepping into the custom world that they need to be passionate about what it is they do. Setting up a business in the AV world certainly doesn’t offer a licence to print money. There are too many installers, manufacturers and brands wanting to take over the world and not enough clients wanting our service and level of solution.

Too many dealers aren’t passionate, they aren’t willing to ask the necessary questions and put in the time to demonstrate the potential. Taking the order before the right questions have been asked is a common mistake and one we are attempting to eradicate; by our investment in our showrooms. A place clients can visit to experience the potential, before being asked ‘how much money do you have to spend’ another common mistake and one a client will never thank you for.

It’s our duty to question professionally and accurately; to ensure the client selects the experience they wish to enjoy, rather than being expected to hand over a wish list of products. The days of clients arriving with a shopping list has disappeared. Today’s clients are arriving knowing little about the actual technology but knowing about how they and their family would like to use the system. This is where the initial questions are so incredibly important.

How did you fill your time during lockdown? Any new hobbies?

Lockdown was a very interesting time for Pulse Cinemas and for me personally. We used the opportunity to completely overhaul our processes and procedures and add systems that would eventually revolutionise the way we interact with our dealers. We completely updated our HQ in Stansted and added a new facility in central London, by partnering with Minotti on Margaret street W1.

Personally, I used the opportunity to get myself incredibly fit, inside and out. Walking miles every day, eating healthier than I had ever done and ensuring I gave myself the best opportunity to get through a challenging time and ready for Covid if it decided to strike. Lou, who works alongside me at Pulse and I, eloped and married, after twice cancelling our wedding due to lockdown. We enjoyed the most incredible day together. I’d recommend eloping to anyone; not once during the day did we need to focus on anything but our love for one another.

What football/rugby/other teams do you support, if any?

My love of Spurs is an area of upset for my new wife; as she is a staunch Hammer… Each to their own of course. My son and I have been season ticket holders for many years and I must say, I absolutely love it. The new stadium is simply incredible and I would encourage anyone that has the chance to visit the ground and enjoy the atmosphere of the ‘greatest team on earth’… Ok, it is a good stadium though.

Tell us something about you that may surprise people

Other than not liking surprises, it may be that Lou and I have just bought a mobile home. We plan to travel and enjoy our wonderful country and all it has to offer. As the Covid madness continues, rather than becoming disillusioned, we decided to grab the opportunities open to us and enjoy what we could.

What’s your outlook on life?

Now there’s a question… In short, to smile more and find joy in the simplest of things. Lou and I have planned, since being together, to design a life that we don’t need to holiday from and I must say that’s working out well so far….which is fortunate because Covid has scuppered any recent plans to travel! We spend our time focused on what we want, rather than what we don’t. A simple switch and one that has had amazing implications and results in recent years.

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

I honestly don’t think I would… Other than to have more time to chill with Lou, my family and our lovely friends. There are never enough hours in the day to help people that need helping right now. This Covid outbreak and the government’s response has resulted in many unreported stories. The subject of mental well-being and ways of helping the many folk struggling during this really challenging time has become a passion project and one that I’m sure will become a bigger part of my life.

Tell us about Pulse Cinemas. How did it all come about, what is it etc?

20 years ago I was working for another distributor and felt the time had come to set up on my own. After much deliberation, I set about the journey that would see many ups and downs; culminating in what we have today. An all encompassing AV distribution company with a difference. We work alongside dealers offering them everything they could wish for. Our team has been hand picked, to support dealer / installers with every element. We offer help with design and demonstration, through to install and support; with much more in between. If you’ve not worked with us before or would like to revisit the new look Pulse, please get in touch.

How has business been during Covid? What plans have you got for the business as we continue to move out of Covid?

Our journey through the Covid outbreak has been a challenging one for sure; but I can honestly say, that because of our pursuit of perfecting our business we have been left with a much improved company and one I’m proud to call my own. Kapes, my long time and trusted business partner and I have a few projects to complete; including finding a southern sales / UK sales manager to help with the increased level of interest we are now experiencing. Once this person is in place, we believe we will then have the company I envisaged all those years ago.

We’ve all learnt that predicting the future is sometimes futile but Pulse Cinemas is stronger than ever and ready for whatever challenges or opportunities await.