ICS Magazine

Three Business Insights Gained While Running Through Hershey

May 26, 2011


This week I attended the last National Association Oil Heating Service Managers Show in Hershey, PA. Actually, it’s not the last show for this fine organization, but it will be the last show by that exact name.

During its annual meeting, the association voted to change its name to National Association of Oil & Energy Service Professionals. The show name will similarly change.

(Good news update: The exhibits were sold out and the show was well attended.)

The morning before the show opened, I threw on my running shoes to gain some perspective. Running allows me moments of clarity, when I can focus on thoughts that I can miss once the hectic work day begins.

My run east on Chocolate Avenue provided three insights that will impact your business.

First, I was reminded that those who do not change are destined to fail. I ran by several shuttered businesses. Old, no-brand motel parking lots were empty, while the Hampton Inn I stayed at was packed. Business in general on Chocolate Avenue appeared slow, although it was 7:30 in the morning so it may have picked up later.

In thinking about these dead and dying businesses, it occurred to me that NAOHSM, now NAOESP, or OESP as they are going by, is absolutely right to change its name. Every organization and business better rebrand if it is going to thrive. It might not require a name change, but it certainly will include changing the way you do business and the way you communicate with your customers.

What’s more, organizations better plan to rebrand frequently. Change is constant and is gaining momentum.

Change, or perish.

Second, opportunity is plentiful. It’s true. It just looks a lot different, and perhaps less lucrative, than before. We have to adjust our definition of opportunity and seize it.

I gave Hershey’s housing stock and businesses the once over. Some have been wonderfully maintained or refurbished. But many need extreme makeovers…new roofs, windows, siding, porches, etc. And that’s just the exterior.

Hershey is no different than your town or mine. Buildings in every city need a lot of work. There is growing pent up demand for your services.

Yes, finding customers flush with money or credit is challenging. But think about it. Every neglected home and building creates opportunity for design, construction, security and maintenance pros. How will your company obtain it? What level of creativity, persistence, or relationship building will it take?

Seize opportunity even though it looks and feels different.

Third, your geeky computer nerd nephew, that tattooed social media friend, or your environmentally passionate neighbor, might help you embrace change a lot faster. Maybe it’s time to not only listen to these new voices, but actually employ them to help you thrive in the new culture and economy.

They might just speak the language your next customer speaks.

Look for people who do not look like you (in term of experience) to help you grow and thrive.