A Show of Their Own
The meeting featured three keynote speakers. The first Mark Hunter, author of Making Work Work, spoke on the importance of building successful partnerships. The second, James Gilmore, co-author of The Experience Economy, spoke twice on the notion of the experience economy, citing examples of businesses that create compelling experiences for their clientele. The closest example he cited that was relevant to the custom installation business was a practice used by Steinway & Sons. When a customer buys a grand piano for the home, Steinway will host a catered party for the owners and their friends at which a concert pianist will play for the evening. The practice gets referrals for the company and gives the owner the chance to show off the new purchase. A custom installation, such as a home theater room, could follow the same example, noted Gilmore.
The third speaker, Giovanni Livera, gave perhaps the most unusual keynote. With a mix of magic tricks and comedy, he gave what is best described as a "pep talk" about how to approach the industry and Elan (it was, after all, their meeting) with enthusiasm and positive energy.
The meatier parts of the conference were broken down into three segments: business, sales and technical. Though many events focus on owners, Elan's aim was to attract three levels of its dealer base including the installers, salespeople and technicians. One dealer, in fact, revealed that if three people attended from a single dealership, they received a discount on the conference fees. To this end the company featured several tracks of classes targeted to each segment, as well as an installer competition, which challenged technicians to see how fast they could set up complex home audio/video and control systems.