I’ve always enjoyed the ACI National Conference. It always has great sessions, side conversations, and of course the people who attend, participate, and share.
2016 might just mark a turning point, however. Several people indicated they thought it was the best and most productive ACI ever. Yeah, I had time to squeeze some fun in. But the days were jam-packed, starting on Sunday even before the conference officially began. Great side meetings with real work getting done. Quadruple-booked blocks with extra events. And yes, some good content, too. I’m sure others will share their highlights. I’ll give just a couple of mine.
Contractor Peer Groups. On Sunday and Monday, two different contractors groups met for day long meetings. Sorry, I can’t share the content of these confidential meetings. That said, the Austin BBQ joints have nothing on the secret sauce being shared in these discussions. As one participant said, “This is by far the most productive day I’ve had at a conference, meeting, or training in my professional career.” And they’re just getting started. (Read more about the peer group concept.)
Focus on Successful Contractor Business Practices. Contractors and experts shared some very useful marketing and sales strategies in several sessions. I was delighted to hear feedback from contractors in a few sessions. “We started presenting options like you talked about with us last year, and our sales went up 20%!” “We don’t think anyone was even reading our audit report before, and now we’re getting compliments on it.” “After your session last year, we worked on asking more questions, and our close rates have increased 10 points.” It’s great see people taking the business side of this as seriously as the blower door testing. That is how we’ll scale. (Interestingly, in a program design session, one of the conclusions of analysis of DOE programs was that sales and business training where correlated with more program success. That doesn’t surprise me at all.)
Interesting Smart Home Conversations. I missed most of the evening session on smart home technology (have a parallel meeting about business training!). And I still believe the smartest home is the one that is built (or retrofitted) right to begin with so gadgets become less important. Nonetheless, I had interesting conversations about Nest, Ecobee, and ways tech can make a difference. Hopefully the manufacturers heard a few things about how their products could be even more useful.
Zymurgy. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the world-class beer that people brought from around the country to share as we discussed the finer points of building performance.
Were you there? What were the highlights for you?