NEFA held its 11th Annual Fall fest program On November 11 & 12 at the Plymouth Harbor Hotel in Plymouth, MA
“Amazing,” exclaimed Larry Fish, NEFA President. “From the first speaker on Saturday, through the final wrap-up on Sunday morning, everything was terrific. I believe this is one of the best events we have ever held. Speaking with my colleagues from around the region, they were all equally impressed. It is really unfortunate for all the cleaners who desperately needed to hear the messages, but were unable to attend the conference. They really missed out on an incredible opportunity.”
“Of all the events like this I have ever attended over the past 10 years, I really think this was the best,” observed second time attendee Mike Maulucci of Battiston’s of Avon. “NEFA really knocked it out of the park. From the speakers, to the allied trade exhibits, to the social interaction: it was all first-class. I started making changes and investing in my business right when I got back. I will be bringing my whole team back next year and even some of my top-level managers. I won’t miss another one.”
Top Industry Speakers
Thanks to the generous support of our Session Sponsors and Breakfast Sponsors (AristoCraft Supply, Kreussler, Aldrich CleanTech, and Spot Business Systems), we were able to bring in dynamic speakers from all over the country.
First up was Jennifer O’Keefe from GlikStorm, LLC. She explored the world of Social media Marketing and Reputation Management. She drew on her wealth of experience working with small business and demonstrated the power -- both good and bad-- that social media has.
“Like it or not”, commented Peter Blake, NEFA Executive Vice President, “Social media has a great impact on your business. If you are actively engaged with your customer base, reaching out to your potential customer, and closely monitoring and working on your online reputation, it can really enhance your marketing strategy. However, if you aren’t careful, and aren’t active you can have some very bad experiences and a negative online-reputation without even knowing it. Jennifer did a terrific job of highlighting the opportunities available to small business and the potential pitfalls many small businesses can run into.
Keynote Speaker: Krista Clive-Smith
As promised, Krista Clive-Smith was the highlight of the conference. As a special gift, each full-conference attendee received a copy of her book, “Get Noticed. Be Remembered”. She explored the needs and benefits of strategic branding. She was able to share her experiences and knowledge to discuss specific strategies that have worked in the past -- as well as ways to relate these ideas to your own marketing strategy.
“She was terrific”, observed Don Fawcett of Dependable Cleaners. She brought energy and excitement to the program, and really got people to think. Sometimes what is being said isn’t as important as what you think about when you hear it. She really engaged the audience and made us think.”
One of the highlights of the conference worked out to be NEFA’s Industry Expert Roundtable hosted by Larry Fish. NEFA arranged for industry experts: Wash Respess of Drycleaning Advisors, Jennifer O’Keefe of GlikStorm, Krista Clive-Smith, Norman Way of Puritan Cleaners, Jim Groshans of FabriCoach, and James Christman of Starch-Up to move from table to table during the lunch presentation and brainstorm industry best practices-- and ways to meet the challenges of today. Each expert spent 10 minutes at each table helping to foster conversation, and to assist in ways to capitalize on opportunities and help solve some of the challenges attendees were facing.
“This was innovative and unique,” observed Eric Pooler, Gold Star Cleaners, “and you really wished you had more time with each of the experts. The discussion was great, and it carried through to all the rest of the conference. It really helped build on all the topics and ideas we had been discussing, and laid a great foundation for the next presentations.”
Industry Spotlight: Norman Way
A new feature of Fall Fest is the Industry Spotlight presentation. Each year NEFA will highlight one of the best operators in the country and invite them to NEFA to discuss their “Best Practices” and some of the ways they are unique. NEFA couldn’t have asked for a better honoree for the first year than Norman Way of Puritan Cleaners. Norman discussed the Puritan brand, and some of the ideals and practices they have instituted. They are extremely community oriented, depend a great deal on social media for marketing their brand, and believe in investing in their employees through continual training.
“I like to hear from other cleaners,” commented Alan Kushinsky, Champion Cleaners, “I like to learn how other people handle problems.. When I can learn a new technique or new trick of the trade -- it pays for my whole conference.”
The last program on Saturday was a discussion of ways you can implement technology to help improve the bottom line. James Christman of Starch-Up showed ways you can embrace apps and other technology to showcase your business and streamline your process. James Moretti of RGS Energy showed how Solar Energy can save come cleaners thousands of dollars each year. Larry Fish also highlighted some of the recent changes he has made -- and the profound effect it has had on his business -- including a move to solar energy.
Achieving Customer Service Excellence
Sunday’s theme was improving your customer relations, and enhancing the customer experience. First up was Jim Groshans, Head Coach of FabriCoach. With a lifetime of experience both behind the counter and in front of it, he was able to demonstrate the need for teamwork in order to achieve customer service excellence. It starts and ends with the counter -- but the entire staff has a role and bears responsibility for the customer experience. His unique observations helped attendees understand the need for proper front-end training including an understanding of the back-end of the processes.
Krista Clive-Smith had the attendees dancing in the aisles as she wrapped up the program. Her second Fall Fest presentation was geared to Managers, Customer Service Managers, and even Customer Service Personnel. She showed the importance of understanding the company’s brand, policies, and corporate culture. She used examples of ways your counter personnel can affect your entire business and how it is perceived.
Planning Ahead: Fall Fest ‘18
NEFA will be moving Fall Fest to October next year, and planning is already underway. The Board is looking for new speakers and topics, so any suggestions should be directed to the NEFA Office.
“I want to thank NEFA for creating something like Fall Fest for people like me”, observed Joel Bien-Amie of New Process Cleaners in New York. It really is an incredible opportunity and I can’t wait till next year.