How One REP Found Its “Pot of Gold”

Written by: Jerry Shrair | Founder & CEO Inventive Problem Solving

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REPs, as you head into 2017 ask yourself the following: Are we creating an enduring business? Are we listening to our most important customers? Are we offering more than low price? If the answer is “no”, you’re a REP Pirate. But, if you hope to build a profitable & enduring business then you’ll be very interested in the story of how one REP, North American Power (NAP), built a business of 250,000 residential electricity and natural gas customers across 12 states and was recently was acquired by Calpine Energy Services.

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How it happened

North American Power was created in 2009 and within five years the company would rank among the 500 fastest growing companies in the country on the INC 5000 list. Revenues increased more than tenfold between 2011 and 2014 to $263 million.

But in 2014 the polar vortex rocked the industry and consumer complaints soared. So Greg Breitbart, the company’s CMO, led the charge to switch its focus to fixed-price contracts. He also decided that NAP needed to create a set of “brand promises” for customers that would be perceived as believable, relevant and differentiated. He began the process of developing NAP’s Brand Value Proposition.

Breitbart’s transformation of NAP was remarkable. Here’s what he did:

Step#1. Decided who his “most important customers” really were (think United Airlines/Business Traveler).

Step#2. Listened carefully to learn about what was truly important to those customers.

Step#3. Asked for their “hand in marriage” (that is, he make them a simple but powerful “set of promises”).

Step#4. Became a great partner. He activated those “promises” through every single thing that the company did (in what customers saw and even in what they didn’t see).

Step#5. Paid close attention to how the relationship was going over time (he created success metrics for all customer touch points and found tools to measure them).

NAP customer service honored by the industry

Just two months ago the company won the prestigious 2016 Customer Service Award at the 6th Energy Marketing Conference in New York City. NAP soared above 15 other REPs by transforming the customer experience and delivering on its brand promises to help customers learn about both energy plans and their own energy usage.

How One REP Found Its “Pot of Gold”

December 14, 2016
screenshot-27
by: Jerry Shrair
Founder & CEO
Inventive Problem Solving

sigma-v2

REPs, as you head into 2017 ask yourself the following: Are we creating an enduring business? Are we listening to our most important customers? Are we offering more than low price? If the answer is “no”, you’re a REP Pirate. But, if you hope to build a profitable & enduring business then you’ll be very interested in the story of how one REP, North American Power (NAP), built a business of 250,000 residential electricity and natural gas customers across 12 states and was recently was acquired by Calpine Energy Services.

znalytics-november

How it happened

North American Power was created in 2009 and within five years the company would rank among the 500 fastest growing companies in the country on the INC 5000 list. Revenues increased more than tenfold between 2011 and 2014 to $263 million.

But in 2014 the polar vortex rocked the industry and consumer complaints soared. So Greg Breitbart, the company’s CMO, led the charge to switch its focus to fixed-price contracts. He also decided that NAP needed to create a set of “brand promises” for customers that would be perceived as believable, relevant and differentiated. He began the process of developing NAP’s Brand Value Proposition.

Breitbart’s transformation of NAP was remarkable. Here’s what he did:

Step#1. Decided who his “most important customers” really were (think United Airlines/Business Traveler).

Step#2. Listened carefully to learn about what was truly important to those customers.

Step#3. Asked for their “hand in marriage” (that is, he make them a simple but powerful “set of promises”).

Step#4. Became a great partner. He activated those “promises” through every single thing that the company did (in what customers saw and even in what they didn’t see).

Step#5. Paid close attention to how the relationship was going over time (he created success metrics for all customer touch points and found tools to measure them).

NAP customer service honored by the industry

Just two months ago the company won the prestigious 2016 Customer Service Award at the 6th Energy Marketing Conference in New York City. NAP soared above 15 other REPs by transforming the customer experience and delivering on its brand promises to help customers learn about both energy plans and their own energy usage.

Some tough advice for REP CEOs

• If you envision transforming your company from “Pirate” to valued & enduring provider in 2017 you must provide clear, consistent and unequivocal cascading authority. If not, don’t waste your time and money creating a cynical company culture.

• You must employ and personally embrace a disciplined and systematic approach that involves each and every person in the organization as well as your extended team of partners.

• You must resist investing in any initiatives, tactics and cool “bells and whistles” that only feel good for the moment.

• You must keep everyone’s eye on the Brand Value Proposition “compass” that you’ve created. Each and every decision should support your company’s promises to consumers.

• You must create a deeply felt and enthusiastic company-wide culture of “Brand Champions”.

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Jerry Shrair is the Founder & CEO of Inventive Problem Solving, a unique professional services firm that was chosen over a number of traditional branding and advertising agencies to help North American Power develop & activate their new brand.