Cleaning & Restoration Industry News

Connections Keynotes Take the Stage

Connections Convention keynote speakers Ed Oakley and Ellen Rohr take the stage and share their wisdom and experience on the first full day of the 2007 Trade Show and Exhibition in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS – Sept. 13 – The couple entering the elevator turned and leaned back against the railing. The man glanced over, smiled and shook his head. “ 7 a.m.’s too early for breakfast anywhere, but especially in Las Vegas.”

Perhaps, but the fact that they were headed down to the ballroom, along with a few hundred more Connections Convention and Trade Show attendees, is a testament to the continued popularity of the event. Bringing together the entire cleaning and restoration industry for three days, Connections offers a unique opportunity for networking, education, and catching a glimpse of the latest tools and technologies available to the industry.

Craig Kersemeier, Connections Events president and master of ceremonies for this year’s event, opened the show with a hearty welcome to all registrants, giving a quick history of the event – now in its fifth year – as well as an overview of what attendees can expect from this year’s show. With the housekeeping out of the way, Kersemeier introduced the first of two keynote speakers.

“There are two parts to every business process: the hard part, the processes, the processes, the procedures, the systems, the things you do, the tools you use, that’s the hard part,” Ed Oakley, president of Enlightened Leadership, said. “The soft part is the people side, it’s the concerns and fears that people have, your ideas, your creativity. It’s the excitement, it’s the resistance to change we automatically get from people. It’s all the people issues that we run into, and all the people strengths as well.”

Long experienced in dealing with large institutions, Oakley recently turned his focus on small business, taking pleasure in “being able to see tangible results quickly, seeing the impact on the bottom line,” while being able to effectively deal with smaller businesses in ways never before possible, due to technology, involving more people, efficiently working with people in ways designed to keep the costs down while helping companies bring their profits up.

“Craig (Kersemeier) mentioned some successes we’ve had with large businesses. But what’s the significance of those successes, basically ‘so what?’ Well, what’ significant about them is that, in every one of them, the only thing that changed was the soft part, the leadership part.” Oakley said. “Now, that does not mean they did not change any processes or any systems. But what they did, by dealing with the people issues first, what that does is bring out the excitement in people, it brings out their motivation, brings out their ‘buy in’ for what needs to be done, and it opens up their creativity in coming up with the solutions…it’s the soft part that is the essence of what our business is about.”

Bare Bones Biz President and founder Ellen Rohr then took the stage. A business consultant and an ICS Cleaning Specialist columnist, Rohr injected just the right amount of spice into an energetic, facts-laid-bare presentation.

“I love this industry because things are better once you’ve been there; you can see what you’ve done, there is a visible effect after the cleaning pro is on the job,” she said.

It’s the goal that’s important, according to Rohr, and it’s the goal on which your sights should be set. What she always finds surprising is how few people have a solid goal in mind.

“I teach business basics. I teach things like you should charge more than it costs, this is your asset, this is your elbow,” she told the chuckling audience. “A lot my clients call me because they’ve been small for a long time and they want to get to the next level. All those variations of what you can be and do and have in this industry are yours, as long as you gain some clarity. So I help people find out what they want, and then figure out a path to get there.”

“The most important thing I learned in growing a company from zero, the number one thing I learned is this: the basics work. From Main Street to Wall Street,” she said. “You don’t have to get fancy; your accounting doesn’t have to get fancy, your systems don’t have to get fancy. They just have to get good.”

“Here’s the thing that’s really cool: nobody’s going to outsource what you do. How many of you go to your customers’ homes or place of business? You show up. In a world that is becoming increasingly detached, somebody is still going to want their carpet, where they live and work, cleaned. So this industry isn’t going anywhere. What a tremendous opportunity for you to love your customers, to show up and talk to your customers, to say thank you for that iced tea, to ask about their kids…It’s all about the relationships your establish with your customers.”

The Connections Convention and Trade Show concludes Friday, Sept. 14.  Check back often for more updates and images from the show.

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