Know the gear that you are going to purchase.
Let's look at LED lighting fixtures as an example. There are many many different choices of LEDs to add to inventory. While trade shows like LDI are an excellent opportunity to see a vast variety of gear from many different manufacturers all in one space, there isn't too much of a chance to get some real quality time with what they are exhibiting. Vendors also typically bring their brand new, high end pieces of gear.
If possible, you are going to want to get your hands on whichever piece of gear you are thinking of buying. Have the sales rep bring a demo fixture to your shop. Write down or have in mind some questions for the rep about the fixture, hook it up to a console and put it through your test.
I know that it is possible to fall in love with a piece of gear the instant you have control of it (it has happened to me). Once you get into having control of all of the attributes of a fixture, there will be things you love and things that you 'can live with' - or there will be things you dislike.
Obviously, budget is always a concern here. What you want, and what you can afford may not always line up. The lighting market is flooded with quality gear, and these days seems to be even more saturated with knock-offs of that same gear. It may be tempting to purchase the cheaper option, but keep in mind it is the cheaper option for a reason. Don't make a knee-jerk reaction to keep costs low, chances are in the end you will not be satisfied and will not be making the best decision for your company and clients. Gear that constantly needs maintenance to function may end up costing you more. Whether that means extra time spent from techs, or even worse - a gear failure during an event, resulting in a refund to your client and word of mouth about the quality of your gear.
Other things to consider is what 'accessories' you need with this fixture...grip, control & power cable. I'll talk more about that in our next post. ~Beth, Lead Production Tech @ Solus Lighting LTD
"I'd rather make a show that 100 people need to see, than a show 1000 people want to see" - Josh Whedon