Building Value

I had the opportunity last week to speak at the ae3 Conference in Houston. ae3 is an alliance of energy services companies that offer energy, economic and environment solutions for non-residential buildings, central plants and landfills. The theme of the event was “Building Value.” I opened the conference with a keynote on the Purple Goldfish and the idea that the little things can truly make the biggest difference. On Day Two I held breakout sessions in each of the conference tracks. We covered Green Goldfish as part of the Leadership Track, Blue Goldfish as part of the Technology Track, and Golden Goldfish as part of the Sales Track. On the third and final day of the conference I presented a closing keynote that recapped the takeaways from the conference.
One of nice additions by the conference was the hiring of a graphic recorder. Caryn Sterling of Drawing Insight joined me for each breakout.
Here is a slideshare that shares the top 10 takeaways and ideas from the ae3 Conference:

Top 10 Takeaways

Here’s a recap of the top 10 ideas:
1. Purple Goldfish – Type: Convenience. One company changed their reporting schedule to mesh with their client. The client needed certain timing to coincide with their SAP system requirements and reporting guidelines.
2. Purple Goldfish – Type: Added Service. One of the challenges of servicing a chiller unit is that the work is not visual on the outside. Similar to the idea of a hotel folding over the toilet paper in the bathroom to indicate it has been cleaned, one attendee shared how they use armor all on the insulation outside of the chiller unit. It’s an added service that visually communicates that the unit has been serviced.
3. Purple Goldfish – Type: Guarantee. One attendee at the conference shared their practice of writing a letter to clients to share a guarantee. They would state a “no bad jobs” guarantee. This gave the client license to reach out if they were unsatisfied with any of the work. It opened the lines of communication and afforded them the luxury of handling mistakes quickly.
4. Purple Goldfish – Type: First/Last Impressions. When one attendee finishes a large rooftop installation for a client, they’d do a signature extra. They would fly a drone up above to take photos and videos to share with the client. A nice little extra to show off the work and make a strong last impression on the customer.
5. Green Goldfish – Type: Onboarding. Managing the first few months of a new hire is critical. Leaders need to establish a strong connection with new employees. The vast majority of employees will make a decision during onboarding whether or not they plan to be with the company for the long term.
6. Green Goldfish – Type: Recognition. One company at the conference has a program called, “You’ve been noticed.” When an employee is seen to demonstrate the corporate values, they can be nominated for an award. Each quarter the firm receives between 45 to 60 peer nominations.
7. Blue Goldfish – Type: Relationship. Business is now about being an insights to actions function. How can learn about your customers faster than your competition and then how can you put those learnings into actions faster.
8. Blue Goldfish – Type: Responsiveness. An attendee shared how their technicians use tablets in the field. The tablet is connected to the back end at corporate. This eliminates the need for paper and increases efficiency. The technician can document on the spot and get sign-off from the client. It’s connected to billing which speeds up turnaround on receivables.
9. Golden Goldfish – Type: Throw-In’s. Not all customers are created equal. You want to do the little extras for your “vital few” customers. Given the Pareto Principle, we know that the top 20% of customers will drive 80% of profitability. This effect is what Joseph Juran called, “The law of the vital few and the trivial many.”
10. Golden Goldfish – Type: Follow-up. One attendee shared how they combat the curse of knowledge. We assume in business that our customers understand all of the solutions we provide. The truth is that they typically know only 20% of our capabilities. The company has a program called, “I Didn’t Know You Did That.” They are constantly reminded their customers of their full range of services by sharing them on their website, emails, newsletters, and invoices.
Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – We shared an idea about drones in this post. Here is some amazing footage of our planet shot using drones: