ACI Austin just might have been the best ever!

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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.

Renew - Closing2016 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.

FullSizeRender 73Zymurgy. 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?


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About the Author:

Mike Rogers is the President of OmStout Consulting. A nationally recognized expert in residential energy-efficiency, he works with contractors and programs to scale sustainable market approaches to improving homes. More on Google+


  1. John Sutter  April 16, 2016

    As I walked the suddenly empty halls of the Austin Hilton the Thursday afternoon after the last Conference sessions had ended, and most attendees were headed to the airport, I felt a real sadness. Halls and meeting rooms that had be buzzing with hundreds of interactions of our peers were now silent as the grave. There had bustle of knowledge and understanding shared by those of us hoping to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our clients, our communities, and our planet. I could have spent a month in that environment. Now it was back to the work a day, but with more arrows in my quiver.

    I took twenty pages of session notes that I have already mined twice, and will mine more in the future. But the single high point that stands for me right now was finding a vendor that had every tool and material we could possibly need for the underfloor vapor barrier installations we do, at about half the cost of what we had previously purchased from five separate vendors.

    One more take away, from Mike Rogers of all persons, “Role play, role play, role play” to improve your sales presentations.

    I want to give a shout out to the organizers of the conference. 1200 attendees, something like 200 presentations over four days, fifty vendors and their booths, breakfasts and lunches for attendees, and enough coffee to float a 737. Well done BPC.

    Somehow this leads me to what a Danish sexologist said as part of her TED presentation on how do you keep a spark in your sex life after many years of partnership. “Foreplay begins at the end of your last orgasm.” So I’m saving my shekels for next year’s bash in Tennessee, and our regional conference in California.


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