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Power of Four Tour to Offer Keys to the Changing Market

Despite sounding like the name of a televangelist’s U.S. stadium tour or a series of book signings by the latest self-help guru, the Power of Four Summer Tour just may be the most important business management event that a custom integrator could attend. It’s definitely the place to be if you’re wondering how to cope w

Despite sounding like the name of a televangelist’s U.S. stadium tour or a series of book signings by the latest self-help guru, the Power of Four Summer Tour just may be the most important business management event that a custom integrator could attend. It’s definitely the place to be if you’re wondering how to cope with the constantly changing market or how to find your customer of the future.

The tour, which kicks off July 19 in Dallas and is sponsored by D-Tools, Lutron, Monster, and SpeakerCraft, was inspired by an eye-opening, though somewhat discouraging, Tim Costello keynote at the 2011 CEDIA Management Conference last March. The presentation outlined the changing consumer demographics, housing trends, etc. affecting business owners in “the new normal” economy. On the way out of that session, Lutron’s Jeff Zemanek turned to SpeakerCraft’s Jeremy Burkhardt and said, “It really would have been nice if we had begun the conference with Tim Costello, so we could spend the next two and half days working on his action items.”

“Why don’t we do it?” Burkhardt responded enthusiastically. And that’s just what Zemanek and Burkhardt are planning to do with the Power of Four Summer Tour next month.

A short time later the two men drafted Noel Lee from Monster and Seth Rubenstein and Tim Bigoness from D-Tools, asking their companies serve as fellow sponsors, hired Tim Costello as a keynote speaker, chose four cities to host the tour (Dallas on July 19; Irvine, CA on July 21; Teaneck, NJ on July 26; and Miami on July 28), and put their collective marketing resources into action promoting the event.

If you’re a D-Tools dealer in one of the tour’s four markets, for instance, then you likely received an email from Bigoness inviting you to attend “a day of interactive sessions and networking” where you could “discover the next wave of game-changing business opportunities” and how to position your business to take full advantage of trends like “Booming Toward Retirement, The Green Home Movement, Selling to Gen Y,” etc.

While the Irvine event is already sold out, the other three sessions have seating still available, and the Power of Four sponsors reached out to me to help get the word out about this availability.

“It’s basically an all-day event with a general session in the morning with Tim Costello communicating to the dealers what their opportunities are to thrive in our new normal,” Bigoness explained to me during a call with the sponsors this week. “We really want to make sure that message comes through to the attendees, then we’ll discuss some of the things that jumped out at us during the morning session, so we can drill down into more detail during the second half of the day.”

After an interactive lunch, the 100 or so attendees will split into two groups hosted by two sponsors each. There, the groups will tackle of few of the most interesting topics, with the goal being a list of action items that each attendee can implement when they go back to work. The groups will switch moderators and do the same thing again, covering a new set of topics, before the end of the day.

“At the end of the day we’ll have a 45-minute get-back-together session to go over what we’ve learned, followed by cocktails and schmoozing,” Bigoness said.

The combination of four such notable manufacturers for the greater good of the industry is rare, but perhaps more necessary today than ever before.

“Combining all of our efforts and all of our dealer contacts for a big event like this is a great accomplishment,” Lee said.

“This is all for the improvement of the industry,” Zemanek added. “It’s all pretty agnostic with altruistic intents. We feel for the industry right now and are trying to make a difference. We know people are hurting, and they want change. But this industry is changing so quickly that they start to do something, and then they worry because the next day they are hearing something else that they should be doing differently. We’re hoping to help them find maybe not an entirely new business model, but a tangent to what they’re doing that can help them make more money and stay in business.”

Burkhardt believes that the involvement of each manufacturer sponsoring the tour was the key to generating dealer interest in what he thinks is an essential conversation. “You’ve got four big companies that have a great presence in our industry and we’re going to cover a lot of ground, from aging in place to green building, to Gen Y,” he said. “We will be speaking with dealers on how to differentiate themselves and how to compete against online businesses.”

As an example of how the breakout sessions will guide attendees in drilling down into a subject, Bigoness mentioned the industry’s quest to attract Gen X and Gen Y customers. “Part of it’s the product mix, but a lot is learning how they buy, how they communicate, and where they get their information,” he noted. “Gen X has gotten older and more affluent and they’re looking for permanence, whereas Gen Y has more time than money, and everything they do is transitory. So how do you differentiate your offerings to hit each of those targets and look at each of those segments as a potentially lifetime customer? [Burkhardt’s] biggest thing when he was pitching this event to us was, ‘You’ve got to adapt. You’ve got to change. That’s the only way you’re going to survive.’”

Not to be lost in the mix is a session during the Power of Four tour dedicated to operational excellence. This part of the Power of Four tour was inspired by the very successful and popular CEDIA Management Conference presentation by Millson Technologies’ Richard Millson. The frequent Residential Systems columnist described how his Vancouver-based integration firm has standardized its installation processes and back-office operations with great success. Millson gave his blessing to the Power of Four sponsors to use a distilled-down version of his two-hour discussion to help attendees gain better insight into running an effective firm.

“We’re hoping attendees can capitalize on this operational excellence discussion,” Zemanek explained. “Richard even said [after the Management Conference], ‘You know it would have been nice if I would have done my presentation after Tim Costello’s.’ So that’s what we’re going to do.”

For more information about the Power of Four Summer Tour and to register, visit